The New Johari Window #3: Interpersonal Relationships and the Locus of Control
We don’t want to believe that there are powerful external forces operating in our lives – that we might even have a destiny. We run away from that which we are “called” to do by events in the world and by settings in which we find ourselves (or in which we have placed ourselves). Abraham Maslow’s (1968) Jonah Complex vividly and metaphorically describes this condition. Johan is running away from his destiny (external locus), but ends up vomited out on a beach, gasping for air, having resided in the belly of a whale. The whale has brought him back home to face his destiny. This was a “teachable” and “coachable” moment—a “moment of truth—for Jonah. These moments can be teachable and coachable for each of us.
The resistance to linkage between internal and external panes is not limited to a fear of external destiny and the movement from internal to external. We also avoid moving from external to internal locus of control. We want to stay away from an internal locus because it implies accountability (regarding things we don’t want to do). We retain an external locus so that we might run away from our personal responsibilities. We prepare carefully for a major event in our life; yet we back off in fulfilling the promise of this event. I find, for instance, that many men and women who have completed all requirements for a doctoral degree other than their dissertation stop short and never complete this work. In fact, the second highest point of drop out in most doctoral programs (after the first six months) is at the final stage of the program when the dissertation is being written. We run away from the responsibilities and expectations that are embedded in the completion of this academic degree.
Similarly, we run away from commitment in relationships with other people, after working for many months on these relationships, because we are fearful—afraid that the relationship won’t be what we hoped it would be, afraid that it will be successful and therefore will consume much of our time, attention and energy, afraid that we have distorted our own perceptions of (or feelings about) the other person so that we might create this committed relationship, and so forth. We run just as quickly away from our personal potentials as we do from our destiny. To offer a revision of Maslow’s Jonah Complex—we swim close to the beaches of Mecca (rather than being taken there by a whale), and then vacillate about swimming the final mile to actually arrive on the beach and claim our success as a long-distance swimmer.
Leave a Reply