For the past several weeks, I've been spending some quiet time reflecting on what I've done and the words I've said that could have hurt others. I was disorganized and didn't feel good about it. I wasn't doing the things that I was supposed to be doing. Sometimes, I would feel stuck, frozen, and not taking action.
There are still a lot of instances where my emotions and past experiences cloud my judgment. I know how important it is to stay in the present moment. However, unforeseeable factors could trigger feelings or thoughts I don't want to feel or think about anymore.
Now, I'm taking the time and space to understand my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to gain insight into what affects my actions and relationships with others. I'm doing it because I want to be better and give myself the luxury of enjoying life. I don't want to live a life where bad memories from the past would keep haunting me and affect my decisions in the present. I also don't want to keep worrying or fearing what might happen.
So far, self-reflection has helped me better understand my intentions, what triggers me to become emotional, where I want to improve, and how I want to make a positive change in my life.
Benefits of Self-Reflection
1. Improved self-awareness
When we take the time to reflect on our thoughts, feelings, and actions, we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves. We understand our intentions and motivations. We get to see our thought patterns and why we react to a particular situation and know when our thoughts or feelings are driving us.
2. Clarity of values and goals
Sometimes, we forget why we want to succeed in something because it gets blurry when so much is happening in our lives. With self-reflection, we see our vision and dreams and align our values and goals. This leads us to focus on what's important to us.
3. Enhanced problem-solving skills
We all have different life experiences that shaped us into who we are now. By reflecting on our past experiences and decisions, we can see that we learned from our mistakes. Through this realization, we develop strategies for handling similar situations in the future. It's important to note that whatever decision we make in the present, we will learn something from it, and we should be grateful for whatever lesson it will bring us.
4. Reduced stress and anxiety
Self-reflection helps us identify the sources of our stress to find ways to manage them. This leads to increased feelings of calm and control. It's essential for emotional regulation because we can see what triggers us to feel a certain way. It can also help us train to be more patient, understanding, kind, and caring.
5. Improved relationships
When we reflect on our behaviors and perspectives, we understand how they affect our relations with others. We realize our belief systems are rooted in how we react or approach things. Once we know where we're coming from, we stop blaming others and do not put others in a challenging situation. Instead, we learn to apologize and see that we are not our thoughts or feelings.
How to Practice Self-Reflection
Here are some steps to practice self-reflection:
1. Set aside dedicated time for reflection
Allocate a specific time when you can dedicate yourself to genuinely reflecting. Choose a day when you don't have any plans. I usually do this on weekends or at night.
2. Choose a quiet and peaceful environment
Find a place or space where you can be alone and free from distractions. You can also go to another place, rent a B&B, or be in nature, like a forest or park.
3. Use prompts or questions to guide reflection
You can start reflecting by asking yourself questions about what you're going through. If you're unclear about what you want to do, ask yourself, "What are my life's intentions? vision? dreams? and goals?", "What are the positive qualities I possess that can be helpful in this situation?", "What are my strengths?", "What did I do well?", "Where am I making this harder than it needs to be?", "What conversations am I hearing in my head?", "What past experience might be causing me to feel this way?"
4. Write in a journal
Writing down our thoughts and feelings is very helpful in decluttering our minds. It gives us clarity about what's happening in our lives. It's helpful if you can journal every day. You can use a notebook or an app like Daybook for journaling.
Meditation helps in quieting the mind. When you can't seem to focus, are feeling overwhelmed, are overthinking, or if there's so much going on in your mind, give yourself time to sit down, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. It can take just five minutes to meditate. I like following guided meditations from the YouTube channel Great Meditation. Or I play the Peaceful Meditation playlist on Spotify at night.
5. Ask for support from a coach or mentor
Self-reflection doesn't mean that you have to do it alone. Seeking help or support from someone can be helpful so you can observe your thoughts clearly. A coach, mentor, or therapist can guide you to see some areas you may feel uncomfortable looking at. It's also nice to know that someone listens to you and understands you without any agenda.
6. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is a potent tool that you can use in your daily life. It's straightforward and simple, and it helps you focus more on the positive side of things and see the blessings in your life. Being grateful doesn't have to be big. It can be about the small things that happen in your life. You can write it down. I use the Presently app and write what I'm grateful for the day.
7. Read self-help books
Sometimes, there are things that we need to fully understand by exploring them more. That's why reading books is an effective tool for gaining knowledge and understanding. There are thousands of books, but you can start with one.
8. Listen to podcasts or relaxing music
Listening to podcasts or audiobooks is an alternative way of learning and hearing other people's perspectives on similar situations. It's very convenient when we think we're too busy. I like listening to podcasts while doing household chores, like washing the dishes, cleaning my room, or cooking. You can also listen to relaxing music, like classical or jazz music.
9. Go on a walk
Walking is another way to reflect, especially when you're busy at work or school. It helps when you're walking close to nature. I like to do this during lunch breaks, so I can recharge my energy and keep my focus on the tasks I'm working on. You can also try grounding or earthing! It simply means reconnecting to the earth by walking barefoot in the grass, sand, or sea.
10. Take action.
Self-reflection shouldn't be staying in our minds or notebooks. We need to take action. Use the insights you gained from self-reflection to set goals, create plans, and take the next small step that could help you move forward toward positive change. Act excellently on what you're doing now while having your vision in mind.
I developed more trust and confidence when I better understood myself and what I was going through. I feel more at ease. I don't worry so much anymore. I learned not to overthink the unknown future and not to dwell in the past. I'm still on this journey, and giving myself time to observe my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors shows me that I'm willing to change for the better.
Even though I may not completely control how I react to certain things, I'm more aware now that I need to be compassionate with myself. I can see my thought patterns. If I notice that I am not my usual self, I remind myself that I need time to calm down, relax, and breathe.
You don't have to do things alone. It's essential to surround ourselves with people we trust. It's empowering to have the courage to ask for support from people who can see our authentic selves. It's also nice to spend quality time with people we care about and enjoy doing activities that we like.