We are half way through another year… Does it feel like it has flown by? Are you wondering where the time has gone?
Time itself, doesn’t slow down.
However, we must allow ourselves to:
- reduce the rush
- slow down in life
- and, get to know ourselves better
or, we can become emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally frazzled.
To most, it feels like our society is fixated on a “go, go, go” mentality; a fast-paced environment that leaves little time for rest and introspection / self-reflection.
What is Self-Reflection?
- a practical way to use a few minutes a day to work on yourself – even when busy
- asking yourself thought-provoking questions to help develop a deeper level of understanding yourself
- allows you to absorb, process and organize the information you take in all the time
- emphasizes balance and mindfulness (active, open attention on the present), allowing you to have a clearer picture of your true desires; who you really are
- remove inner roadblocks and release emotional tension and stress
- promotes positive change, self-awareness
- it allows you to become more proactive, than reactive
You often do not have a clue why you are doing a certain thing and why you feel the way you feel. The subconscious mind, which makes up 90% of your brain function, is on autopilot and can trigger certain behaviors in certain situations. These triggered behaviors don’t necessarily lead to the desired outcome.
Self-Reflection helps with that!
Through self-reflection, you can:
- change how you see yourself
- how you feel about certain situations
- how you act
“Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
The Benefits of Self-Reflection include:
- Keeping you focused on the bigger picture!
- It is important to have a clear vision of where you see yourself in the future – write it down if you have to or create a vision board, to continuously remind yourself of what you intend to accomplish!
- By keeping an overall goal in mind, your daily tasks become more meaningful and less frustrating
- Allowing you to define your own happiness!
- Recognize the positive events and activities in your life, and apply these to future endeavors and goals
- Ask yourself: When am I most happy? What am I most proud of and why? Who do I most enjoy spending time with?
- Preventing you from worrying about things out of your control!
- Self-reflection allows you to direct your energy toward self-improvement, rather than trying to improve others, and change things you have no control over
- Why worry about traffic jams, or those with odd opinions, when you can be improving yourself?
- Noticing negative patterns in your life!
- Self-reflection enables you recognize negative patterns; understand how and why they have a damaging effect on your emotions; allow you to consider alternative approaches and alleviate the stressors.
- ie: toxic relationship or work environment
- Increasing self-awareness for improved results!
- With increased self-awareness, you are more likely to trust your gut when making decisions, and you will feel more confident in your choices!
- You will have the courage to face fears and challenges, because you are confident in who you are!
- You will be more aware of who YOU are, and what YOU truly want in life!
Other benefits include: developing better critical thinking skills, communication skills, social awareness, empathy, tolerance, creativity, emotional awareness, …
What is an immediate, short-term goal that you have right now?
Do you have a goal to spend more time with family, exercise more, start a new hobby (painting, ping pong, golf, paddle boarding, …)?
- these goals could be unrealized (not met) because of lack of self-awareness
- you need to know how to direct your behavior, in order to know how to pursue your goal
- self-reflection helps you make progress on the goals that will improve the quality of your life
Self-Reflection Tools, Activities and Methods:
- Self-Reflective Journaling:
Self-reflective journaling is not about jotting down your days’ activities, but rather:
- your thoughts, your perspective, your feelings, your actions, the feedback from your environment throughout the day
- It is about becoming aware of your actions and behaviors, and the results of those actions and behaviors.
- You will think about everything that happened throughout your day, and WRITE down (journal): why it happened, how you felt, why did you feel that way, how is that affiliated to your beliefs and values, …
The purpose of self-reflective journaling is:
- to get things out of your head and clear your mind, allowing you to relax
- allow you gain insights you may otherwise miss
- useful problem-solving tool
Three ways to keep your self-reflective journal:
- Notebook – the best! (Your hand is connected directly to your brain and handwriting with no blinking lights, popups, distractions … is the best way to go!)
- App – on tablet, phone, laptop, etc (notepad or journaling software, even something as simple as Evernote)
- Private Blog – not the safest option
Some journal prompts to get you started.
2) Empathy Map
An Empathy Map helps you:
- identify your needs
- identify the disconnections between:
- what you say
- what you do
- practice identification of your feelings/thoughts/attitudes
- analyse yourself from a 3rd person perspective
3) Six Thinking Hats
Edward de Bono’s, The Six Thinking Hats, is a simple, effective method that helps to increase productivity, focus and mindfulness. The main idea is that by “mentally” wearing and switching “hats”, you can easily focus and redirect thoughts, a meeting or a conversation.
This process allows you to look at situations and yourself from a different perspective. It can also help you when practicing self-reflection by providing new insight. It is also quite fun!
Are you going to wear a blue, white, yellow, black, red or green hat?
4) Why? Why? Why?
Did you know that asking yourself “why” repeatedly, helps you get to the root of a problem by encouraging analytical flow?
- think of a situation: (I didn’t get the promotion, I rocked that presentation today, that hatrick I scored was unexpected, I failed the exam,…); OR a certain feeling: (I was distracted all day, I am in a bad mood, I am unusually upbeat today,…)
- once you have a situation or feeling in mind, start asking yourself WHY
- do it 5 or 10 times
- you will gain new insight into yourself
- ie: I was distracted all day
- Why was I distracted all day?
- maybe I was thinking about the kids activities tonight and the upcoming vacation and having to get immunizations and what to do if the dog gets sick again while we are gone
- Why was I thinking about the kids activities tonight?
- I may need to get someone to carpool Sally so I can pick up Joe…
- Why? because there isn’t enough time between the two
- (take steps to arrange this… why be distracted all day?)
- Why was I thinking about the upcoming vacation?
- I should be making packing lists and determing what we will be doing each day
- Why? to ensure we have appropriate clothing for weather and in case we need to buy passes in advance
- (set aside some time in your schedule to do this… avoid future distraction)
- Why was I thinking about immunizations?
- these need to be scheduled
- (schedule them! avoid worrying about it any longer)
- Why was I thinking about if the dog gets sick again?
- I need a plan in place, or decide I can’t control this
- Why? because it is causing me stress and really is out of my control
- (decide to have a back up plan for the dog or let it go)
One of the best ways to connect with yourself, and observe your thoughts is the method of self-reflection, meditation.
Some great apps when first trying to discipline your mind with meditation are:
Headspace with Andy Puddicombe
6) Life Fulfilment Chart
This chart is a visual representation of 10 key areas of your life. It allows you to self-reflect and determine how fulfilled or satisfied you are currently in each of the areas. You will assess each area on a scale of 1-10. Then highlight certain areas in red and others in green, and ask yourself “why” for all 10 areas of life.
Self-reflection can change the course of your life simply by better understanding who you are, and what you are. It is all about YOU: your whys, your desires and what you want in life.
Self-reflection is about understanding, tolerance of self, increasing your capacity of love for yourself and others, becoming more aware, and noticing things about yourself and your past that may be contributing to current life patterns and emotional states – positive or negative.
Take time to self-reflect. Dare to be the ideal you!