Why don’t we find out more about ourselves from other people? We don’t find out either because we don’t want to know (Q2-I) (internal locus of control) or because we don’t know that we don’t know (Q2-E) (external locus of control). I will explore each of these panes (Q2-I and Q2-E) in greater depth.
Q2-I: The Blocked Self
Why don’t we find out more about ourselves from other people? We don’t find out either because we don’t want to know (Q2-I) (internal locus of control) or because we don’t know that we don’t know (Q2-E) (external locus of control). I will explore each of these panes (Q2-I and Q2-E) in greater depth in this essay and the following one.
In Chapter Two I described the postmodern self. We are saturated and overwhelmed by the complexity, unpredictability and turbulence of the world that surrounds us. Under such conditions, it is understandable not only that we try to reduce the size of our sense of self (the minimal self), but also that we become highly selective in what we take in from the external world—especially from other people, who are facing just as many postmodern challenges. As a result, we are inclined to intentionally block out some feedback about ourselves that other people hold (Quad Two: Internal). The reason for blocking feedback from other people is actually much more complicated than this. This is especially true when we decide who we will listen to regarding feedback about our behavior and what we are likely to retain from what they tell us about ourselves. I propose that there are seven major factors that underlie and determine the nature of the Quad Two blocking (Q2-I).
The first two factors relate directly to the postmodern condition just described. The first of these postmodern factors seems a bit obvious and mundane; yet, it is quite important in our postmodern world and can often lead to alienating relationships. I don’t want, don’t ask for, and rarely listen to feedback because I am distracted by other matters. I can’t be bothered with the feedback or have no time to do anything about it anyway. Why learn something new about myself, when I am likely to be pulled away from this new information five minutes later with some other crisis in my life or exposure to additional information about myself. We give off many signals to other people indicating that we are not really interested in their feedback: “Yeh, yeh, thanks. Now who else has something to tell me about myself!” This, in turn, leads other people to withhold their feedback. As a result, we are no longer bothered with even the desire of other people to tell us something about ourselves that we don’t already know—or that they think we don’t already know.