The New Johari Window VI: The Postmodern Self
The Overwhelmed Self
The third sense of self relates closely to the first (saturated self), but certainly can be a reason to retreat to a minimal self (second self). In his book, In Over Our Heads, Robert Kegan describes the exceptional challenges associated with living every day in our contemporary world. He identifies the demands for very high-level cognitive processing among our leaders, our managers, and our parents:
. . . the expectations upon us . . . demand something more than mere behavior, the acquisition of specific skills, or the mastery of particular knowledge. They make demands on our minds, on how we know, on the complexity of our consciousness. The “information highway” . . . may geometrically increase the amount of information, the ways it can be sent, and the number of its recipients. But our experience on this highway may be one of exhaustion (a new kind of “rat race” or “gridlock”) rather than admiration for the ease and speed of a new kind of transport if we are unable to assert our authority [internal locus of control] over the information. No additional amount of information coming into our minds will enable us to assume this authority; only a qualitative change in the complexity of our minds will.
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.”