• Andrew Matthews

How do you become aware of what is in your unconscious?

I have been thinking about the four stages of competence, which is often explained with a flow of moving from unconsciously incompetent to unconsciously competent. Additionally, I have been thinking about the Unknown area of the Johari Window (not known to self & others).

From these I have been tickled by the question of how do I, and others, find out what is hiding in the shadows of unconsciously incompetent and/or the Unknown? What is it that makes something that is hiding in the deep dark corners of these quadrants move into the light and be discovered?


This triggered me to reflect on my own journey of drawing things out of the shadows and what were the most significant events that made this possible?


Some of the most significant events that led to shedding light on the shadowed area of my Unknown and unconscious are:


  • Training as a coach,

  • Working with a coach and/or therapist,

  • Training as coach supervisor,

  • Receiving ongoing coach supervision,

  • Consuming resources (books, podcasts, webinars), and

  • Connecting/learning with trusted people (family, friends, colleagues, and peers).


Reflecting on my work with clients over the years, it strikes me that the vast majority of insights, turning points, and transformations stem from shedding light on something hiding in these shaded areas. Here is what is often found lurking:

  1. Gremlins,

  2. Problems solving modes that no longer serve you,

  3. Interpersonal games (failed attempts/strategies/tactics to connect or be close)

  4. Communication styles that miss the mark,

  5. Blocks to seeing yourself.


It’s not all gloomy stuff in these shadows. The most powerful gems found here are wisdom, strengths, and resilience. Spending the time and energy engaging in activities that illuminate your Unconscious and Unknown are opportunities to further reveal who you are when you are living your best personal flavour of life. It is up to you to keep that alive and live into it.


5 Top tips that shed light on your Unconscious and Unknown areas:

  1. Resources: books, papers, blogs, TED talks, these offer lenses to reflect and invite a meta perspective

  2. Get external input by talking with peers, friends, family, colleagues,

  3. Work with a professional (coach, psychologist, mentor, supervisor, spiritual guide/leader)

  4. Take time to reflect/meditate

  5. Journal


I understand that I am taking a bit of a light touch on these models and their original purposes. However, holding them lightly and having a commonality of creating awareness in ourselves creates curiosity that could bring light to the things that trip you up and the key to living more of your best personal flavour of life.


If you are interested in exploring your growing awareness of what is begging to be found, feel free to contact me, or book a free chemistry session with me now.

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