Self-reflection: Looking within and why it’s so important

There are many layers to our development as human beings. We develop our own personality traits and characteristics, idiosyncrasies and mannerisms, and we try to be the best versions of ourselves. But how do we know what that best version is? Where does it come from? How is it developed? How do we know when we have achieved it?


Self-reflection or introspection is a step in the right direction, but much easier said than done. As we live in such a fast-paced world constantly surrounded by technology, we may not spend time evaluating our behavior, our interactions with others, and our responses to different situations and environments in our lives. We may not…but others do it for us. As we are emersed in communication outlets such as social media and texting, it is easy for others to evaluate and analyze us. Others can make judgements about us and our behaviors at the touch of a button. They can look at a recent post, Tweet, picture etc. and wonder why we acted in such a way. But it isn’t up to others to determine our self-worth. It isn’t up to others to decide if we made the right decision or behaved appropriately. That is for us to decide, about ourselves and self-reflection is how we do it.


What is self-reflection? Simply put, it’s looking within. It is pondering, evaluating, judging your behaviors, thoughts, attitudes, emotions, motivations, and wants. It is finding the “Why?” behind what drives you to act as you do. Also known as personal reflection, self-reflection allows you to analyze your life from different levels. At the macro level you are able to see the “big picture.” You can see the overall trajectory of your life and where you want to go. You can evaluate how you are going to get there and if you want to make changes, you can decide how best to do that. At the micro level, you can analyze your behaviors, responses, and reactions to life events and situations.


Self-reflection isn’t easy. It takes practice and it’s intentional. It requires you to take a break and step back from the challenges of everyday life. Rather than just moving through life one decision at a time and never really evaluating the outcome of those decisions, self-reflection allows you to gauge whether or not what you are doing is working. Self-reflection also helps us to avoid getting “stuck.” By evaluating our lives and our decisions, we can increase our efficiency. Without self-reflection we may feel out of control. We may feel like we are barely keeping our heads above water. A lack of self-reflection can lead us to doing the same things over and over again even if we don’t achieve our desired outcome.


What are some other benefits to self-reflection? Self-reflection allows us to gain perspective that we might not otherwise have. Our judgement can be blurred by emotions and we can miss what is truly important and what matters the most. Some things might appear larger or more catastrophic than they actually are. By engaging in self-reflection, you can take a step back and better evaluate what you should focus on and what can be ignored. It allows you to take a different/new perspective on a situation that you might not have had in the actual moment. Self-reflection provides you with the opportunity to process events and gain a clearer picture. It allows you to respond more effectively. Often times we quickly respond to whatever is thrown our way, even if we haven’t fully thought about the outcomes of our responses. We may say or

do things we may later regret when we do not fully consider the weight of our actions, words, and choices. Self-reflection enables us to deliberate. It allows us to contemplate the most effective, beneficial, and helpful way to respond to a given situation. Finally, self-reflection promotes learning and understanding about ourselves, others, and the world. A lack of self-reflection may lead us to miss out on gaining a deeper understanding of life. Having the time to pause, think, and reflect enables us to learn valuable lessons. Through these valuable lessons we can minimize the recurrence of past mistakes we have made. Overall, it allows us to live healthy, purposeful and integrated lives.


In the famous words of Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Put in the time and effort to examine your life. Look within and never stop evaluating yourself. You have control over who you want to be and how you get there. Self-reflection will help you on that journey.





References

Team, A. (2020, May 08). Self-reflection 101: What is self-reflection? Why is reflection

important? And how to reflect. Retrieved February 15, 2021, from https://www.holstee.com/blogs/mindful-matter/self-reflection-101-what-is-self-reflection-why-is-reflection-important-and-how-to-reflect

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