There are countless books, articles, and practices designed to help you take charge of your life and be your best self.
There is one thing that almost all of them have in common: the need for self-reflection. In order to overcome our weaknesses, play to our strengths, and achieve our goals, we have to know ourselves.
Without regular self reflection activities, we may stay in a job we hate or a relationship that isn’t right for us.
Self reflection gives us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and identify our desires.
Self reflection has been my greatest asset as an entrepreneur. Personal reflection helped me realize the kind of differences I wanted to make in the world.
I knew I wanted to help young artists with Guin Music, to restore civil discourse in the world with Nota.
Self reflection was the key that helped me find the mission behind my businesses and put them into action.
To help you learn how to self-reflect, I’ll define self-reflection and how it can benefit your life.
What Is Self Reflection?
What is self reflection? Self reflection definition is the ability to dive in yourself to better understand your thoughts, behavior, and emotions.
Most of us struggle with self-awareness, but personal reflection gives us time to look back at our patterns of behavior and interpret the underlying causes.
We can analyze how we cope with difficult emotions, what brings us joy, and what it is we truly desire.
Self reflection gives us the ability to course correct when we find our actions straying from our value system and value conflicts.
Self reflection can be a powerful tool for enhancing relationships, achieving goals, and finding personal satisfaction and standing up for our beliefs.
However, too much time spent in self-reflection can lead to unhappiness and self-obsession.
We reflect on situations where we wished we had behaved differently so that we can learn from our mistakes, not beat ourselves up about it.
Self-judgement is not the point of personal reflection–rather, we simply wish to learn more about ourselves so we can improve our lives.
The Elements Of Self Reflection
If you want to learn how to self-reflect, you need to work on three essential skills. The first skill is the ability to maintain an open mind about ourselves and the world.
Everyone has their own biases, but you must become aware of them if you wish to keep them from clouding your judgement. The second skill is the ability to be a neutral observer.
You have to learn how to observe yourself and the way you act with the same distance and lack of judgement you would offer a friend. Lastly, you must learn to be objective.
You must learn how to separate negative thoughts and feelings from who you are as a person.
Your identity is not defined by how you act or feel in any given moment, but by the culmination of all of your experiences.
Benefits Of Self Reflection
If you want to know why reflection is important, simply look at the myriad ways it can benefit your life.
The benefits of self reflection range from the internal (personal fulfilment and satisfaction) to the external (achieving goals and improving relationships).
Here are the benefits of self reflection you need to know:
- Make better decisions
One of the greatest benefits of self reflection is the opportunity to learn from your mistakes.
By examining the way we act and feel in certain situations, we can learn what works for us and what doesn’t.
Let’s say you realize you do your best work first thing in the morning, but you’re hopeless in the late afternoon.
Self reflection can allow you to cater your schedule to prioritize the most important tasks early on.
This way you can maximize your efficiency and avoid falling into the same trap again and again.
- Gain greater self-awareness
Self-awareness is an important tool for living our best lives.
When you know what inspires and motivates you, you can accomplish more at work.
When you know what makes you frustrated or anxious, you can avoid or overcome these negative emotions.
If you feel great anxiety around meeting work deadlines, then self-reflection can help you realize the benefit of finishing projects a day or two ahead of time.
This can lessen the stress in your life and help you get ahead of your anxieties.
- Learn to regulate your emotions
One of the biggest benefits of self-reflection is the ability to regulate our emotions.
How many times have you reacted out of emotion and then immediately regretted it?
When you engage in frequent self-reflection, you learn to anticipate your emotional reactions to things. This gives you time to equip yourself with tools to deal with the emotions instead of letting them get the better of you.
- Improve your relationships
Self reflection is not only good for us, but the people around us as well.
Regular self-reflection makes us more self-aware, empathetic, and kinder people.
We choose healthier responses to things and change our behaviors when they don’t suit us.
This allows us to be better friends and coworkers as we show up for our responsibilities and our friends.
- Achieve your goals
The personal growth you achieve as a result of self-reflection will help you achieve incredible goals.
Whether you want to switch to a new career, gain a promotion, or learn a new skill, self reflection can help you get there.
It can help you become more efficient, overcome obstacles, and silence your inner critic.
Civil Discourse And Self-Reflection
When you practice self-reflection, you get a better understanding of yourself. You become aware of your biases, triggers, and blind spots.
This makes you better equipped to handle difficult conversations without losing your temper or shutting down.
Because the goal of civil discourse and civil dialogue is to talk and share ideas and opinions without arguing, self-reflection is invaluable in the process.
By engaging in regular self-reflection, you strengthen your ability to have meaningful conversations with people who have different viewpoints than your own.
To help you get started on self-reflection, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- Think about what you did today. What behaviors did you do throughout the day?
- What emotions did you feel?
- What triggers anger in you?
- What triggers fear in you?
- What triggers shame in you?
- What emotional patterns do you experience regularly? What causes them?
- What are you passionate about?
- What prevents you from pursuing your passions?
- Do you shy away from difficult conversations or tackle them head on?
- Can you keep an open mind and listen to opposing points of view?
Hopefully you’ve been able to find what self-reflection means in your life.
Keep an eye out for self-reflection examples in your life as you start your journey to greater self-awareness.