Life Skills Development/Unit One/Self Esteem and Self Improvement/Lesson

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True Self Esteem

What is Self Esteem?

Self-esteem is the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and being worthy of happiness. In psychology, self-esteem or self-worth includes a person's subjective appraisal of himself or herself as intrinsically positive or negative to some degree.

The key to healthy self esteem is becoming aware of our personal strengths and accepting ourselves as worthy persons despite any real weaknesses we have. The worthiness component of self-esteem is often misunderstood as simply feeling good about oneself, when it actually is tied to whether or not a person lives up to certain fundamental human values. Self-esteem stems from the experience of living consciously and might be viewed as a person’s overall judgment of himself or herself pertaining to self-competence and self-worth based on reality.

The Johari Window

Understanding self - through the Johari Window

The Johari Window, named after the first names of its inventors, Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, is one of the most useful models describing the process of human interaction. A four panned “window”, as illustrated, divides personal awareness into four different types, as represented by its four quadrants; open, hidden, blind and unknown. The lines dividing the four panes are like window shades, which can move as an interaction progresses.

In this model, each person is represented by his or her own window.

  1. The “open” quadrant represents things that both I know about myself, and that you know about me. For example, I know my name, so do you. The knowledge that the window represents, can include not only factual information, but my feelings, motives, behaviours, wants, needs and desires… indeed, any information describing who I am. When I first meet a new person, the size of the opening of this first quadrant is not very large, since there has been little time to exchange information. As the process of getting to know one another continues, the window shades move down or to the right, placing more information into the open window, as described below.
  2. The “blind” quadrant represents things that you know about me, but that I am unaware of. So, for example, we could be eating at a restaurant, and I may have unknowingly gotten some food on my face. This information is in my blind quadrant because you can see it, but I cannot. If you now tell me that I have something on my face, then the window shade moves to the right, enlarging the open quadrant’s area. Now, I may also have ‘blindspots’ with respect to many other much more complex things. For example, perhaps in our ongoing conversation, you may notice that eye contact seems to be lacking. You may not say anything, since you may not want to embarrass me, or you may draw your own inferences that perhaps I am being insincere. Then the problem is how can I get this information out in the open, since it may be affecting the level of trust that is developing between us? How can I learn more about myself? Unfortunately, there is no readily available answer. I may notice a slight hesitation on your part, and perhaps this may lead to a question. But who knows if I pick this up, or if your answer will be on the mark.
  3. The “hidden” quadrant represents things that I know about myself that you do not know. So for example, I have not told you, what one of my favourite ice cream flavours is. This information is in my “hidden” quadrant. As soon as I tell you that I love “Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia” flavoured ice cream, I am effectively pulling the window shade down, moving the information in my hidden quadrant and enlarging the open quadrant’s area. Again, there are vast amounts of information, virtually my whole life’s story that has yet to be revealed to you. As we get to know and trust each other, I will then feel more comfortable disclosing more intimate details about myself. This process is called: “Self-disclosure.”
  4. The “unknown” quadrant represents things that neither I know about myself, nor you know about me. For example, I may disclose a dream that I had, and as we both attempt to understand its significance, a new awareness may emerge, known to neither of us before the conversation took place. Being placed in new situations often reveals new information not previously known to self or others. Thus, a novel situation can trigger new awareness and personal growth. The process of moving previously unknown information into the open quadrant, thus enlarging its area, has been likened to Maslow’s concept of self-actualisation. The process can also be viewed as a game, where the open quadrant is synonymous with the win-win situation.

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