Home » Blogs » The Therapist Within » Opening the Window to Your Heart – and What You Might See Through It (Part 2)

Opening the Window to Your Heart – and What You Might See Through It (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this post, we explored Rumi’s quote about opening the window of your heart, and, once open, what you might see through such a window.

Maybe, in part, that depends on the kind of window you’re dealing with.

Many years ago, I lived in Germany for a while, where the windows are all double-glazed. In the older buildings there are actually two whole windows in each window frame: one opening to the inside and one to the outside world. Technically, this is to enhance the insulating effect, but metaphorically it seems to be saying something, too.

So could you open the window towards your interior spaces, too? Is this heart window business about looking in as well as looking out? And, if so, what might you see there?

Two psychologists in the 1950s had a theory about that. Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham devised ‘The Johari Window’ as a model of this space. Their psychological window has four panes, each representing a different intersection of what you might expect to see about yourself if you looked through them.

These four spaces of the self are shaped by what you know (and don’t know) about yourself, and what others know (and don’t know) about you.

So if you look through the first pane, it’s completely transparent. You’ll see what both you and others already know about you. Your ‘public self’.

The second pane reveals a ‘blind spot;’ it shows things about you which others see and recognize as you, but which you yourself aren’t conscious of. They’re the things we might ‘deny’ about ourselves. The habits we overlook. The qualities we might project onto others (when in truth they belong to us…).

The third pane reflects your secret self: the things you might hide or avoid. The stuff you know about yourself but prefer to keep hidden from the world. The things others would be surprised to learn about you, if only they had the chance.

And the fourth pane is opaque: behind it lies the unknown area that neither you nor others are aware that you have. Your unconscious self.

So what’s the point of all of this?

Luft and Ingham felt it might be possible to expand some parts of the window and thereby get to know yourself more deeply. The idea is that by gradually building trust with others and gently revealing more of yourself to them, the secrets you carry about yourself diminish, and more of you is able to connect with the world.

Equally, by really listening to the feedback you get from the people in your life (as hard as that can sometimes be), maybe you can spy some of your blind spots.

So, for instance, if your partner or a close friend tells you they sometimes find you controlling, or lazy, or shy, it may not just be about them – there may actually be a grain of truth about you in there somewhere that’s worth listening to.

Perhaps a window onto part of you that you haven’t wanted (or perhaps haven’t been able) to meet yet.

Maybe even a window onto the very heart of you…

Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also co-facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She is the editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.

Opening the Window to Your Heart – and What You Might See Through It (Part 2)

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

2 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2010). Opening the Window to Your Heart – and What You Might See Through It (Part 2). Psych Central. Retrieved on June 18, 2019, from


Last updated: 22 Sep 2010
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.