In today’s society, we are always on the go – we barely get time to do our hobbies let alone set aside time for self-reflection. However, it is an essential skill for personal growth. Without it, we walk around unconscious to our subconscious, reacting to situations in a way you always do, without much thought.
Self-reflection is the key to self-awareness - it allows us to recognise our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions. Have you ever had an emotional response to something or blurted out words that you later regretted? Of course, we’re all human, but self-reflection might aid you in choosing a more considered response, leading to you changing behaviors that aren’t working well.
When we engage in self-reflection, we’re developing what is known as an inner witness. This is the ability to look within yourself – evaluating your thoughts and emotions, from a slight distance, rather than in the heat of a moment. It’s almost like peering at your image in the mirror, except that for self-reflection, it goes much deeper than your outer appearance.
Reflecting helps you to develop your emotional skills and review your management of reactions. It is about questioning, in a positive way, what you do and why you do it and then deciding whether there is a better, or more efficient way of doing it in the future. Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning from it all. This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform future mindsets and actions.
What you must be mindful of in this process, is firstly noticing exactly what you are feeling in your body, experiencing in your emotions, and thinking in your mind. They are the essentials. But then, self-reflection calls us to go deeper with inquiry:
How did that thought arise?
What is really happening when I tell myself I’m feeling this emotion?
What might be a deeper cause to this feeling or emotion?
When I experience these sensations in my body, what are they expressing about how I feel about the situation?
Although self-reflection can seem unnatural, confronting or difficult at first, you will find it becomes easier with practice and the end result could be a happier and more emotionally aware version of yourself, in the longer term.