Do you sometimes wonder what others think about you? Or why won’t they just get what you mean? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. I’ve got an exercise that can help you make sense of it!
At times, we are so caught up in our own perspective that it is really hard to step out of it. We might be falling into the trap of the confirmation bias, where we would pay special attention to the bits of reality that confirm our opinions, previous experiences or beliefs. This might in turn lead to us becoming lonely given that our opinions and beliefs are so strong and non-negotiable. Do we want this? Not really, no. But somehow it happens to so many of us…
This article is dedicated for you to start a self-reflection, to think about what is it that you and other people know about you, and to reflect on how this knowledge might help you accept yourself, grow and live a happier life.
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Time for the exercise!
The purpose of this exercise is to reflect and do some thinking. So firstly find a quiet place to sit down, get a cup of your favourite beverage (ideally non-alcoholic, not to impact your clear thinking 😉 ).
I’ll wait until you’re ready.
Have you found a comfortable space to spend some time just with yourself for the next 20 minutes?
Perfect! Let’s get started then!
To do this exercise, think about each category as a window. We will have four windows through which we will be looking out, each showing us different things.
What does everyone know about me?
The first window we are going to look through is a public window. This window will show us what is it that you know about yourself and others know about you to – in other words, what information are public about you. It can be as simple as your name, surname, the job you do, but it can also be some of your other characteristics that are widely recognizable (eg. clumsy, likes parties, always wears flowery accents on clothes etc.).
Give it a minute and think about what you know about yourself that others know as well.
What are my little secrets?
Now let’s move on to the second window. What are the things that you know about yourself, but others don’t? What are your little secrets? What does the hidden area look like? What are the things that either only you know or only you and your close friends know? What are the things you don’t share publicly? It could be some of your interests, maybe some fun facts from your childhood, something more private that you’d rather not share ever with anyone, or the beliefs that you have which don’t match your new environment.
Now take some time to think about the things that are not public about you, things that not everyone knows about you. What are they? Try to include both the ones that people don’t know but you would potentially be willing to share them and the ones that are more private to you.
What am I missing out on?
The third window will show you the things that you don’t know about yourself, but others do know about you, things that might be missing in your perspective, blind spots. So for example, you might be wondering what do others think about you, what do others say about your job, what do others think about your clothes or house or whatever it might be. They might also know how you look from behind, which you would never know. Or how they feel about you leaving to live abroad.
Now write down all the things that other people know, but you don’t. We will use this list later to prepare for a follow up exercise! 🙂
What is still a mystery?
And here we are looking through the last window. It could be called the ‘What if’ window I think. Looking through it we will try to think of the things that neither us nor others know, things that you’d like to know, questions that bother you and you’d love to have the answer. It can be things like: What would have happened if I hadn’t gone abroad? What would the other person do if I’d written to them earlier? What will the future be like? How do I figure what’s the best for me?
Take the time to write down all the things that come to your mind within this category. Don’t spend too long on it though. Set a 3-minute limit to answer this question. At some point we just need to accept that we can’t have all the answers and there will always be some unknown areas!
Some final questions for you!
Look at your four windows now. What do they look like? Which one is the biggest? Which one is the smallest? What are your first reactions?
Are there a lot of things that you think others know, but you don’t? If so, how about trying to get this information from them? Think about talking to a couple of people and asking them these questions. In a work situation, ask your colleagues for feedback. Thanks to this, you might easily get the answers you are looking for!
Are there a lot of things that you know and feel, but don’t share with others? What impact do you think it has on your relationships? Do you think you could share some of these feelings or facts with other to improve these relationships?
Is the biggest area the public one? Does it seem like you have nothing to hide? How do you think it impacts (if at all) your relationships? Would this openness be well received in all cultures?
Hope this article triggered some reflections in you and you found it helpful! I am thinking of doing a follow up on it to focus even more on the intercultural aspects of the analysis and how this tool might be helpful in a work environment – let me know if that’s something that you would like to read!