As the New Year turns the page.
As the New Year turns a page, we have all experienced the thoughts of reflection, resolution, and personal evaluation. It is not just a New Year’s concept and tradition.
Occasions that can create a place-marker for us as growing human beings are part of our DNA.
We think of where we have missed an opportunity in our lives or we may think of a goal we have long carried to hopefully now see enter fruition in the year ahead, for example.
Taking time to think, meditate, and evaluate helps guide us towards personal growth even without realizing it. Self-reflection or “personal reflection” paves the way for our minds to access new thoughts, attitudes, or motivation.
This process of deep thought can also allow us to analyze our life and what is needed or no longer needed so we may move forward towards our healthiest and truest selves.
There are key factors to examine when personal reflection is applied into your life. These would involve gaining a better understanding of both where you are headed and where you have been.
This leads to questions such as “Am I happy with the direction I am headed?” or “Have I made the proper adjustments to give myself the best life I can?” Such questions can become lengthy and this is a good thing.
To be able to question your past decisions allows space for new responses to those questions to form which leads to being able to better evaluate your life and needs in the future.
Self-Reflection As a Deeper Form of Learning
Geil Browning, PHD, co founder and author of Emergenetics, makes mention of personal reflection where:
“Reflection is a deeper form of learning that allows us to retain every aspect of any experience, be it personal or professional — why something took place, what the impact was, whether it should happen again — as opposed to just remembering that it happened. It’s about tapping into every aspect of the experience, clarifying our thinking, and honing in on what really matters to us.”
Self-reflection has been part of our diverse cultures as human beings for eons. From the time of becoming meta self aware (self conscious) to the more profound thoughts we develop into adulthood of our place and purpose in life, we our ever changing and innately wired to self analysis.
This is where the practice of self-reflection becomes a key part of our development and healing infrastructure. Self-reflection takes discipline and intentional effort.
What is required further is being able to pause on the sometimes hectic movement of life, to take time to think and examine the purpose and needs of our lives.
For those who may wonder how to truly develop the ability to practice self- reflection, let’s discuss a few points of reference to help build your practice and implement it into your daily routine, namely:
The Benefits of Self-Reflection
Having the ability to understand that self- reflection offers a place to pause and reassess is very important. Benefits include being able to not just take a step back but to see what truly matters. To be able to ask;
What am I needing most in my life?
What can I offer others that I may have neglected?
These are simple but important beneficial questions to how self-reflection can be an ally and a tool. Gaining new perspective can allow for unclouding your judgment and exploring the other side of things. To be able to process things as they truly are and not just perceived from one view can become a valuable source of understanding your life and those around you.
Clearer and gentler
Think of how much clearer and gentler life could feel if we take into account the perspectives of others as well as ourselves. New understanding promotes learning. To be able to pause and consider all sides of an issue or to consider the feelings of others enables us to process the experiences we have more completely.
So, you may ask yourself:
How exactly am I supposed to practice self-reflection?
How do we reflect upon our life in the most effective ways?
Again, there are so many ways self- reflection has been a part of human culture through the ages that the resources are endless. One way in which I suggest is journaling daily.
Take a few moments each day to reflect on tasks at hand and needs or goals wished to be fulfilled. Now list all the ways in which you may handle or approach any given subject.
Are you not sleeping enough, for example?
Then perhaps journal of all the ways sleep is important to you and ways in which you could achieve more of it. Ask yourself where in your life is sleep being affected most? Is it an inconsistent bedtime or stress that needs tending to? Self-assessment in thought, play, and experimentation is the most basic way to tap into self-reflection.
Another example may be taking time to go for a walk or practice meditation as another tool to access self reflective moments. Where will your thought processes take you?
What questions do you have for yourself that require help in answering them? Through journaling, meditative practice, sharing with others, or through being creative; these are but a few ways to tap into that self-reflective place.
Experiment with the Practice
Here is self-reflection practice I have utilized for my daily journaling that has helped keep fresh in my mind what is most important and most helpful. The first part is taken from the Japanese practice of Naikan.
An excercise of self-reflection developed by Japanese businessman Yoshimoto Ishin (1916 -1988) a devout Jodo Shinshu Buddhist. This method was developed to help people understand themselves and their relationships. We will explore more on the interpersonal relationship benefits of Naikan in a future blog.
Naikan reflection is based on three questions:
1. What have I received from? (myself and/or a partner)
2. What have I given to? (myself and/or partner)
3. What trouble and difficulties have I caused? (myself and/or partner)
The intent is to sit quietly with each question and list the things in your mind or in a journal that speak out to you. This means listening and processing each question and asking yourself what your head, heart, and gut says in response to the self-reflective question.
This has become a simple but effective daily practice for me in continually understanding that I am always in progress, always growing, and most importantly always preparing myself for acceptance and change.
Are You Still Unsure About Self-Reflection for Yourself?
Here are a few more tips bullet pointed to help you on your way to discovering the true benefits of self-reflection each and every day and not just because certain occasions or circumstances arise.
Take a moment and write these prompts down somewhere where they can be accessible every day. Make sure to take time time to pause, ponder, and embrace even the uncomfortable things that may surface. Think deeply about what truly matters to you in your life right now.
- What period of time are you reflecting upon?
- What has happened during this period of time that you are grateful for?
- What has happened during this period of time that you are unsatisfied with and would like to change?
- List your highlights of this moment in your life.
- List the lowlights of this moment in your life.
- What experiences can you take steps to change first?
- What experience have you not had that would require steps to accomplish first?
- What is your most grateful moment of today?
- In what ways could you contribute to experience more grateful moments like this?
- What is the biggest change/challenge in your work, relationships, or passion projects?
- Are these good or bad changes for you?
- Either way, what do appreciate from these changes/challenges?
- What do you appreciate most about yourself right now?
- What can you do to offer gratitude and comfort to your life and those that you care about?
Patterns in the Practice
These are but a few and the questions can be generated spontaneousley or given deep lengthy thought depending where you are in your self-reflective practice. For myself, they change often but I have noticed patterns of certain reflections surfacing again and again.
Does this happen for you?
Ask yourself what patterns do you see in your self-reflection practice and what do these patterns say to you?
More Supportive Resources
If you would like to take a moment for further research and exploration on self-reflection, here are a few resources to help you in doing so.