Self-improvement

Johari Window: A strong realization towards Self-knowledge

Johari Window: A strong realization towards Self-knowledge 2560 1957 Manolis Stratakis

The Johari Window is a great self-awareness tool. It is named after the first names of the two psychologists who have invented it (Joseph Lufft and Ηarry Ingam).

This tool can help us discover important aspects of ourselves with emphasis in critical skills such as behavior, empathy, team cooperation and personal development.

This tool divides our Self in four areas:

  • Open (known to us, known to others)
  • Hidden (known to us, unknown to others)
  • Blind (unknown to us, known to others)
  • Unknown (unknown to us, unknown to others)

Let’s now see each of them in more detail:

Open Self

This is the public part of our self, the part which is visible both to us and the others. It comprises everything that we freely disclose and share, like some of our experiences, knowledge, opinion, emotions, character traits, wishes and problems. People with a large open self possess a high degree of self-awareness, clarity, self-confidence and authenticity. They feel comfortable with themselves, they know their strong character traits but also their drawbacks, they set their own path to life, they possess a high level of confidence about their decisions and they rarely feel any need of approval from others.

Hidden Self

This is the part of our self which is visible to us, but invisible to the others. In this area we keep our very personal information, all those things we are not willing to share with others, since they might be our weak points, dysfunctions, fears, emotions, motives, desires, mistakes, secrets or guilt. Nevertheless, this area may also contain some of our positive traits which we still do not disclose out of modesty or shyness. The amount of trust we have in other persons, guides us to decide about the amount of information we share with them. People with an over-sized hidden self tend to be more introvert and secretive and may often seem distant or lost.

Blind Self

It is that part of our personality that is invisible to us but visible to the others. It contains information such as non-verbal communication, our peculiarities and all those characteristics which others see in us, or possibly translate different than us. Through well-intentioned criticism we will become aware of certain things, therefore moving them from the blind to the open (or hidden) area. People with a large blind area can be extremely naive and this creates trouble in their professional or social relations.

Unknown Self

It this part of our self that neither we nor the others around us can see. It contains all those things which are out of our awareness window, such as depressed feelings and experiences which have been stored deeply in our subconscious. They can reside there forever and stay unknown, or we may discover them at some moment. Then they will move to another area (hidden, blind or even open). Those with disproportionately large unknown self are persons for whom self-knowledge is an unknown word. They have never invest in their self-improvement. They usually have troubled relationships with others but also with themselves and they generally have a vague picture of the world they leave in.

The rest of the iceberg

While the three first areas are only the tip of the iceberg, the unknown self is the rest of the iceberg. It is the part which contains the biggest chunk of information about who we are. Most of the people never dare to dive in the cold blurry waters of their mind, even when they have been convinced that there is a treasure hidden in there. Those who take the chance, after the first shock, they realize that self-awareness is an art: the more you practice, the better you become, and the better you are at it, the greater the benefits.

Techniques like self-observation, introspection and meditation can help us get acquainted with an important part of our unknown self, with amazing long-term results. Psychoanalysis and Coaching will also open the door for us and guide us hand by hand in the path of self-knowledge.

 

How emotionally intelligent are you?

How emotionally intelligent are you? 1587 1116 Manolis Stratakis

Emotional Intelligence

According to the latest studies (mainly through the work of Daniel Goleman), the – until recently underrated – Emotional Intelligence (EQ) contributes an 80% to success in life, while IQ supplies the rest 20%. On top of that, although none of them is considered fixed and permanent, Emotional Intelligence is the one with greater margins for development and growth. Let’s check the degree of our own EQ and see how we can improve it!

Below you will find a checklist with the most important characteristics of High Emotional Intelligence. Check which of those you possess and mark them from 1-10, with as much accuracy as possible.

  1. [    ] ​Self-control and self-discipline
  2. [    ] Impulse control
  3. [    ] Openness, adaptation and embracing change
  4. [    ] Ability to perform under conditions of pressure
  5. [    ] Good understanding of our own emotions
  6. [    ] Good understanding of the emotions of others
  7. [    ] Awareness of our strengths and weaknesses
  8. [    ] Optimism
  9. [    ] Self-confidence
  10. [    ] Good communication skills
  11. [    ] Acceptance of criticism by other people
  12. [    ] Ability to disagree without causing tension
  13. [    ] Ability to offer constructive criticism
  14. [    ] Initiative taking
  15. [    ] Cultivating trust in relationships
  16. [    ] Ability to self-motivate in order to reach our goals
  17. [    ] Ability to lead and influence
  18. [    ] Resistance to prejudice
  19. [    ] Decisiveness
  20. [    ] Persuasion
  21. [    ] Patience
  22. [    ] Persistence
  23. [    ] Curiosity
  24. [    ] Ability to inspire others
  25. [    ] Cooperate without competing
  26. [    ] Ability to teamwork
  27. [    ] Maintaining control in crisis situations
  28. [    ] Control impatience
  29. [    ] Ability to focus
  30. [    ] Acceptance of defeat and failure
  31. [    ] Ability to listen before talking
  32. [    ] Acceptance of our weaknesses
  33. [    ] Personal and work ethics
  34. [    ] Ability to neutralize toxic people
  35. [    ] Giving without expecting
  36. [    ] Knowing when and feeling comfortable saying no
  37. [    ] Ability to slow down, disconnect and relax
  38. [    ] Ability of quick recovery after a mistake or failure
  39. [    ] Robust emotional vocabulary
  40. [    ] Resistance to perfectionism

 

Now check at which of them you score high and which you score low and write them on the table:

 

I score high

I want to improve

 

Finally, just make a note of those which seem especially important to you and you would like to improve. Let this new realization linger in your mind for the days to come.

 

 

The road to self-esteem

The road to self-esteem 3033 2147 Manolis Stratakis

The image of our self and our capabilities are going through a daily trial: by others and by ourselves. It is this image which will determine where the road to our self-esteem will take us.

All the people who know us, have formed an opinion about us. Depending on how long or how well they know us, this opinion can be rough and trivial or polished and solid. Of course, an opinion is always subjective and it can be more positive or negative depending on the person’s predisposition to us. It is also dynamic, which means it is subject to change.

It’s interesting however, that not only the others have an opinion about us, but we also have an opinion about ourselves. Everyone has an opinion about themselves. Therefore, for the overall image of our self, both our own opinion and the opinion of others matters.

Let’s take the simplified case shown in the diagram, where we have 4 variations: on the vertical axis the opinion of others, which can be positive or negative and respectively on the horizontal our own opinion, which can also be positive or negative:

  • When both parties (we and the others) see us positively, then we have confidence and our self-esteem is heading north.
  • When the others have a positive opinion about us but our view is different, we feel insecure. As the others believe in us, they accordingly have high expectations. On the contrary, we do not believe in our self and so we are afraid we will let them down. Hence, we lose steam and start to have emotions of sadness, stress and remorse.
  • In the case when the others see us negatively while we see our self positively, we can become aggressive. We try to prove what we worth (often in vain) and this causes us annoyance and anxiety.
  • Finally, when both we and the others have a negative opinion about us, we become cynical. We may feel disappointment or even hopelessness. We usually adopt a style of contempt and arrogance.

When we experience low confidence, we do not believe in our capabilities and – for exactly this reason – we do not take advantage of them. Then we produce poor results. But there is always this part of our mind which knows that we can do better and judges us for these poor results. Our poor performance is taken as proof that we do not have capabilities or we do not try enough, which lowers further our self-confidence.

A paradox which comes with low self-esteem is that the more other people praise our capabilities the more our self-esteem lowers (we go from cynical to insecure). This happens because of the increased differentiation between our opinion and the opinion of others.

However, as we travel into the road of our personal development, the opinion we have about our self obtains a positive sign. Eventually, we will enter the area of confidence and our self-esteem will keep increasing slowly but steadily.

 

See also our article on: An introduction to our emotions

 

Gratitude Jar: Empower your gratitude muscles!

Gratitude Jar: Empower your gratitude muscles! 640 426 Manolis Stratakis

Things you will need

– A large jar

– Small-size papers or post-it notes

Exercise

Perform one of the drills below on a daily basis:

  1. Think of a person to whom you would like to express your gratitude for something good he did for you, or for any other reason. He might have helped you at some point of your life or gave you inspiration through their paradigm. Perhaps they contributed indirectly by helping a person close to you or even contributed to a common cause you cared about.

Write a few words expressing your gratitude to this person!

  1. Think of something for which you are grateful. It can be anything, small or large. Something you may have considered given, but with a closer look you realize it isn’t. Something which you possess and you don’t want to lose. Or something bad which you managed to avoid, or it happened without affecting you. Or even something bad which just never happened!

Write just a few words expressing your gratitude about this!

Drop all your notes into your gratitude jar. In some time you will have a jar full with plenty of reasons to be grateful for what life has given you so far.

Gratitude’s effect on your brain

According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, regularly expressing gratitude literally changes the structure of the brain. Recently, fMRI has been used to study gratitude. The brain activity of participants was measured when experiencing different emotions, and found that gratitude causes synchronized activation in multiple brain regions, and activates the brain’s reward pathways. In short, just like anti-depressant drugs, gratitude provides your brain with precious neurotransmitters like Serotonin (the happiness and satisfaction hormone) and Dopamine (the pleasure and motivation hormone).

 

Cantril Ladder: improve the Quality of your Life!

Cantril Ladder: improve the Quality of your Life! 1614 1125 Manolis Stratakis

Cantril Ladder: A first step towards improving drastically your Quality of Life…

The quality of our life and therefore our happiness level, can actually be measured! One simple and easy way for this is using the Cantril Ladder.

Imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder do you feel you stand right now? Check the respective colored disk on the left column on the diagram (Present).

It is important to understand that our life is dynamic, it is always changing. It may change faster or slower, but it is changing. The question is: which direction will it take next? Will it change to better or to worse? Here, our active commitment comes into play!

Believing in change is the first prerequisite to trigger actual change. The second is setting up a goal. A right goal should be specific, meaningful and feasible.

So, let’s try to place a realistic life-changing goal for the near future.

On which step do you want to stand in five years from now? (Please take into account how feasible is your choice). Check the respective colored disk on the right column on the diagram (In 5 years).

Congratulations! You have just made a good step towards realizing you present situation and set up a realistic goal for improving it. Just by placing your goal in the radar, you increase the odds for achieving it. Hold on to your seat while you are getting there!

______________________________________________________

The characteristics for each group (as set by the Gallup Organization, with some modifications by us) are described below:

Thriving (9-6) — wellbeing that is strong, consistent, and progressing. Respondents have positive views of their present life situation and have positive views of the next five years. They report significantly fewer health problems, fewer sick days, less worry, stress, sadness, anger, and more happiness, enjoyment, interest, and respect.

Struggling (5-3) — wellbeing that is moderate or inconsistent. These respondents have moderate views of their present life situation OR moderate OR negative views of their future. They are either struggling in the present, or expect to struggle in the future. They report more daily stress and worry about money than the “thriving” respondents, and more than double the amount of sick days. They are more likely to smoke, and are less likely to eat healthy.

Suffering (2-0) — wellbeing that is at high risk. These respondents have poor ratings of their current life situation AND negative views of the next five years. They are more likely to report lacking the basics of food and shelter, more likely to have physical pain, a lot of stress, worry, sadness, and anger. They have less access to health insurance and care, and more than double the disease burden, in comparison to “thriving” respondents.

These characteristics are only useful to give you an idea and help you see if you have made a good guess. Sharpening our awareness is critical in understanding where we stand and where we want to go!

Wheel of Life: The big picture of your life

Wheel of Life: The big picture of your life 3408 2381 Manolis Stratakis

Wheel of Life: The big picture of your life

The “Wheel of Life” is a powerful coaching tool that offers an effective way to see the big picture of our life and visualize how our energy and time are spread among some of its most important areas. We often focus disproportionally in one area while overlooking some of the others. But in order to be happy, it is important to have a satisfactory overall performance.

Below is the Life Wheel, a pizza-shaped graph, with each of its eight segments representing one major area of life:

  • Career
  • Finance
  • Health
  • Family/friends
  • Romance
  • Personal development
  • Free time and interests
  • Social contribution

All you have to do is take some time to think and evaluate how well you do in each different area. Mark them from 1 to 10. Don’t try to give an accurate answer, just provide the answer that first comes to your mind.

When you are done with your evaluation and marking, take another moment to think how important each of these areas are to you at present. Mark their importance from 1-10.

That’s it! You finished. Now, prepare a drink, sit in a relaxed posture and do some introspection which will give you important awareness about what these results actually mean to you.

See also our article: Cantril Ladder: improve the Quality of your Life!

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