The New Johari Window #6: Awareness of Self and the Postmodern Condition
Other authors—most notably Daniel Goleman—write about the equally-as-demanding task of gaining access to and making use in the world of our emotions. We need an emotional intelligence that is just as demanding as the cognitive intelligence described by Kegan. In identifying the challenging elements of being emotionally intelligent in our complex, postmodern world, Goleman suggests that one must be able: “. . . to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations, to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one’s moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think; to empathize and to hope.”
All of this suggests that we are vulnerable to a sense of being overwhelmed. Our self must be always engaged if we are to be cognitively and emotionally successful in our life. We don’t have the givens of stable traditions; we must process a deluge of information; we must interact with and work alongside people with very different backgrounds, perspectives and values. How do we address this sense of being overwhelmed? Do we shrink or at least suspect the authenticity of our Quad One, as Lasch seems to suggest, or do we somehow hold together a self that is large, complex, saturated and challenged from every side as Gergen suggests? Alternatively, can we be selective and find ways in which to focus on specific aspects of ourselves, leaving other aspects temporarily undeveloped (Quad Four) or at least out of public view (Quad Three)?
The Selective Self
Developmental studies of men and women, suggest that we move toward fewer relationships as we mature; however, the relationships we keep tend to be deeper than those we had earlier in our life. Similarly, we tend to care about fewer things in our life as we grow older and care more intently about fewer things. Erik Erikson identifies this process of selectivity as generativity. We embrace a more selective self and choose to do fewer things in a more intense and caring manner as we become generative.