Self-reflection is the key to self-awareness: it allows us to look neutrally at our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions. When we self-reflect, we dig deeper through all the layers of our personality, we are able to look at ourselves with newfound interest and curiosity and maybe start to question ourselves and our behaviour. If you’ve never done this before, it might seen scary or overwhelming – but worry not! In this article we’ll help you get started with self-reflecting!
SELF REFLECTION – WHAT’S THAT ALL ABOUT?
Self-reflection is defined as a mental process you can use to grow your understanding of who you are, your values, why you think, feel and act the way you do.
Most of our habits and behaviors are pre-programmed and buried deep in our subconscious mind. Therefore it can often feel as if we were out of control when it comes to the way we react to our surroundings.Through the act of self-reflection we reprogram old patterns, learn to take over control again and therefore improve our life.
Research has shown that self-reflection plays an important role in self-concept development. When we self-reflect and get to know ourselves better, we strengthen the relationship to ourselves and improve the way we navigate through life. (1)
When self-reflecting, we become more aware and conscious of what drives us, we make changes on ourselves much easier and further improve our life. The key is to look deep into all the things that make you “you”, discover patterns in habits and behaviors while still observing and analyzing yourself with a neutral mindset. How does one do that? (2)
LEARNINGS AND OUTCOME OF SELF-REFLECTION
The work doesn’t end with self-reflection. It’s more or less a three step progress:
1. Identify that you want to work on yourself
2. Do the work of self-reflecting
3. Learn from the outcome
Let’s continue with an example we’re all familiar with:
We made a mistake.
We often tend to be too hard on ourselves and criticize ourselves for the smallest things that did not go as expected. Things like these happen all the time and to everyone, yet still even these minor inconveniences can be enough for us to be mad at ourselves for the rest of the day and maybe even the day after. However, mistakes act more as teachers that tell us what we should NOT do in the future. Mistakes allow us to learn through negative examples – that is if we allow ourselves to learn from them, since we can’t learn from our mistakes if we don’t take the time and space to reflect on them. Thoughts you could ask yourself in this situation might be:
How do I feel after making this mistake?
Was anybody hurt?
Can I apologize for what had happened?
How did this mistake occur?
What led up to this mistake?
“A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again.”
– Roy H. Williams (1958-), U.S. author and marketing expert.
Reflecting on our mistakes is a huge and important task. What matters even more is what happens after that. Are we willing to learn from them or not?
When we don’t learn from our mistakes, we inflict unnecessary stress on ourselves and on others, and we risk losing people’s confidence and trust in us. (3)
So, if we want to avoid the same or similar mistakes in the future, we need to take action, do the brain work and then do our best to better ourselves so we can make peace with what happened and move on.
GET STARTED WITH SELF-REFLECTING:
Reflecting on oneself is not an easy task. And if you’re new to the topic it might feel overwhelming on what to do, where and how to start. So we’ve put together 6 tips to help you get started with self-reflecting:
1. Plan in time for yourself
Reflecting needs some time. So, before your calendar gets too full, schedule in an hour solely to and for yourself, at least once a week.And once you do it’s important that you stick to it as you would with a work meeting.
And just as you would in a work meeting, you can prepare yourself for it by setting a narrative and setting (realistic) expectations on the outcome of the session. Especially in the beginning, these check in’s with yourself will be a lot of work. And they won’t be easy. Sometimes you might even head towards a direction that will be brutally honest and an emotionally painful experience. In these cases it’s important to know when you’ve reached the point where you need to stop. If sitting down with your emotions and everything going on in your head feel like they are to difficult for you to do on your own, maybe our second tip is a better option for you:
2. Try guided meditation
Meditation courses are built to help you silence your mind and feel grounded. There are countless courses, videos and apps on practicing mindfulness out there that can be done at any given moment.One of the many benefits of guided meditation is – you’ve probably guessed it – that it is guided. So while you are alone with your thoughts, you’re less likely to drift off or head in a negative headspace during the narration. To get even more out of the meditation, we love to combine meditation with a Red Light Session. Another plus point: Our panels are known for being very silent. So they won’t distract you!
3. Write it down
Gratitude journals are in all hype at the moment – with good reason. It only takes about 5 minutes a day and all you need to do is answer a question. Journaling your thoughts and feelings in general are powerful tools, so whenever you feel a certain unsteady feeling, step back, pause, and note the emotion and thoughts you are experiencing as detailed as possible. Note also what you feel apart from the emotional imbalance. It is quite common that uneasy feelings and situations have bodily reactions such as stomachaches, headaches, racing thoughts or anxiety, to name a few. (4)
And once you’ve noted them all, try to figure out the “why” behind these reactions, the situations and potential triggers that may have led to them. (5)
4. Limit your distractions
Remove anything that might distract you while reflecting on yourself. You don’t want anything coming in the way of you working on yourself. So, set your phone on mute, close your laptop, find a nice space where you can think and get started.
5. Take a break
Self-reflection is work. Our brain is a powerful tool: while it only takes up about 2% of a person’s total body weight, it needs about 20% of the body’s energy usage to function. So take a break when you need it. It’s not supposed to be easy, but it shouldn’t drain you of your energy. (6)
6. Speak to someone about it
It feels great to get things off your chest. Talk to someone you trust, someone close to you. Or seek professional help from a therapist, who is trained in asking the right questions.
Self-reflection is a method to help us better understand ourselves, our behaviors, motivations and intentions. The key to this being increased self-awareness that leads to mental resilience – and therefore bettering our approach to life and our overall well being. Since most of our behaviors are “pre-programmed” in our subconscious mind, we need to dig deep and reflect well on ourselves in order for us to make changes in “the wiring”.
There are many ways to practice self-reflection, one of the most common ones being meditation. But there are many more things we can do to become more mindful, such as journaling and an overall healthy lifestyle. And as always, the key is consistency. Working on oneself is a life-long process, but if you keep at it, the results will be worth the work.
Self-reflection and practicing mindfulness are becoming more and more popular. And, to be honest, while working on yourself is a lot of work, it can actually be a very fun and adventurous process! So don’t wait, get started with self-reflecting!
If you’re interested in more topics around the topic of becoming the best “you”, these articles are a must read:
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