Our daily busyness often creates mental turmoil and chaos, so having a way to recalibrate and refocus on what’s important is extremely valuable.
Being able to give ourselves quiet time on a regular basis and doing some self-reflection is a powerful technique that can help us be more successful.
What is Self-Reflection
Self-reflection can be likened to a mindfulness technique, where we deliberately put ourselves in a quiet state to recall events or experiences from the past, observe or acknowledge our current reality, and contemplate the future we want to create.
If we consider professional sports teams and athletes, there is a high probability that after every match, game or competition, they will review how they performed in terms of what worked, what did not go to plan, and what they can do to improve next time they’re competing.
Imagine how a team or an athlete would perform if they did not track how they were performing or they did not establish strategies or tactics to improve. There’s a high probability they won’t improve as fast as they would like, if at all, and they’ll keep doing the same things over and over and keep getting the same results.
The sad reality is that’s what most people do with their lives. They don’t allow themselves to pause and reflect on where they are and where they want to be.
What Happens When You Don’t Self-Reflect
Failing to take time out to self-reflect is like driving a vehicle continuously without taking it for a service, giving it a tune-up and doing some preventative maintenance on it. There will eventually be a price to pay.
Some of the consequences of not self-reflecting includes:
- Failing to look for opportunities to improve.
- Feeling run down or burnt out.
- Higher levels of stress and emotional turmoil.
- Doing the same things over and over and getting the same type of results.
- Having lower levels of excitement or optimism for a better future.
We don’t feel our best when we don’t take care of our physical health and likewise, we won’t be at our best self if we’re not taking care of our mental health.
How Self-Reflection Can Make You More Successful
There are numerous benefits for having a self-reflection practice.
- Helps you be less reactive. Any time we allow ourselves to be quiet, we tend to be calmer and more present. This will allow us to improve our ability to respond to situations we find ourselves in.
- Heightens your self-awareness. Self-reflection leads to more self-awareness because we’re more likely to be honest with ourselves. That will allow us to acknowledge what’s going on for us and recommit to what’s important.
- Improves your self-esteem and self-confidence. Self-reflection is not just about reliving what we did wrong or poorly. It’s also about recognising things we did well, which will make us feel better. That will give us the confidence to repeat those things.
- Makes you question your assumptions. Our assumptions are often beliefs that we’ve adopted based on things we’ve learned or experienced. Not all our assumptions are true. When something doesn’t go as we intended it to, self-reflecting will allow us to challenge what we expected to happen and what we thought to be true.
- Allows you to see things from different angles. How we see and experience the world is based on our perspective or point of view. There are many different points of view, so self-reflecting will enable us to consider new ways to achieve a particular outcome.
Self-reflection is really a process of quietening our minds in order to allow useful insights to surface to support us in some way. The more we do it, the better and clearer insights we’ll receive.
How to Start a Process of Self-Reflection
The good news is there is no right or wrong way to self-reflect. It’s the intention of being quiet for a certain period of time that is the real objective.
Some things to consider when getting started with a self-reflection process includes:
- Choose a time to pause and be quiet. Also decide on how much time you will give yourself for the process.
- Decide when or how you will do it. It could be while sitting in a quiet spot, while going for a walk or while commuting.
- Set an intention for the reflection process. What is your outcome?
- Prepare some questions you’d like to ask yourself based on your intention.
- Have a means to capture any insights you may receive. It can be by writing in a notebook or journal, or recording yourself speaking.
The more we self-reflect, the easier it’ll become and the more comfortable we’ll feel.
Questions to Ask During a Self-Reflection Process
Depending on our intention and how much time we have, there are many questions we can ask ourselves, which can include:
- What is currently working well for me? What can I appreciate and be grateful for?
- What is a recent success I’ve had and what contributed to it?
- What have I recently learned that I can apply into my life?
- What is something that did not go as well as I would have liked?
- What could I have done differently and what will I do better next time I’m in a similar situation?
- Where am I currently not in alignment, either with my values or who I want to be?
- What is the most important thing for me to focus on right now? Why is it important?
- What things should I let go of now, whether that’s thoughts, past events, or beliefs so I can give more energy to what’s important now?
- What can I do to continue being my best self?
- What do I want at this stage in my life?
In order for self-reflection to be a regular part of our lives, we have to find what works best for us. One suggested process may not work for everyone therefore we may have to refine it so that it will be beneficial to us.
No matter how we do a self-reflection process, there is more gain from doing it than not doing it. The key is to get started and make it a regular process.
Action Step: Choose at least 15 minutes on a particular day within the next week to do a self-reflection process. Decide how you want to capture any insights you receive and prepare some questions beforehand. Complete the self-reflection process and integrate any new insights into your everyday life.
Question: What is another benefit of having a self-reflection practice?