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It’s important, both in our professional and personal lives, to take time to self-reflect. Whether you’re embarking on a new project, pursuing a new career or simply want to take some time out to set yourself some new goals, self-reflection is a great way to kick start things.
If you aren’t sure what self-reflection is, or how it could benefit you, we’re here to help. Below are some tips on getting started.
What is self-reflection?
In it’s simplest terms, self-reflection is the act of looking back over previous events with an open mind to learn and improve on actions taken.
This could be thinking back over goals and achievements, reviewing how you got there and the outcome. Or looking back over a situation, how it was handled by yourself and others and reflecting on your attitude and feelings at that time.
When practicing self-reflection, be mindful to look back over both the positive aspects as well as the challenges. Whatever memories you are reflecting on, it’s beneficial for your mental wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence to take stock of both, as this can help you to adapt, learnt from your experiences and move forward.
Benefits of self-reflection
There are many benefits of self-reflection. The practice is commonly used to help narrow focus, highlight areas of improvement, and ultimately, help individuals to reach their goals. However, there are other benefits too:
1. Reduces stress levels
Taking time to understand what has gone well and what has been a challenge will help you in future situations. Whether in your work or personal life, being open to adopting a mindful and productive approach can ease feelings of stress and uncertainty.
2. Sparks creativity
Reflecting allows you to dedicate time to not only improve your circumstances and nurture your wellbeing but also consider new opportunities – paths you hadn’t realized were open to you or opportunities that you are yet to take advantage of.
3. Improves relationships
Self-reflection gives you time to assess relationships as well as situations. Whether it’s a colleague, friend, family member or loved one, practising self-reflection is beneficial for evaluating how you feel about the relationship, rather than simply being reactive.
4. Allows for better decision making
Time is invaluable when making decisions, and practising self-reflection gives you the opportunity to allow time to review, before making more informed decisions.
5. Creates room for growth
Practising self-reflection is an effective way to encourage growth, both personally and professionally. While it may feel uncomfortable to look back on some experiences, particularly challenging ones, acknowledging your previous actions, what you’ve overcome and what you’ve learnt as a result enables you to move forward with an empowered and fresh outlook on life.
4 tips for self-reflection
There isn’t a right or wrong way to practise self-reflection - everyone is different. Depending on how much time you put aside and the environment you’re in, you can use different methods to complete your practice.
1. Use questions to structure your practice
Identify the important questions you want to ask yourself about habits, achievements and feelings, from the period of time you are reflecting on.
E.g. How did I reach that goal? How am I feeling today? What could I improve on, based on what I’ve learnt this year?
2. Journal your reflections
Write out each question and answer in a reflection journal. Putting pen to paper helps you to release your thoughts out in the open, can provide clarity, and can often be rather revealing. The journal provides a place for you to look back on your journey as you move forward.
If you fancy trying out another form of reflecting, why not try audio journaling? Simply record yourself voicing your stream of thoughts, either via the voice recorder on your phone, or on another recording device. Asking yourself those important questions and hearing your response can help you to recognize different thoughts and feelings and enable you to find clarity, express yourself and take notice of how far you’ve come.
3. Try breathing exercises
Steadying the mind by connecting with your breath before reflecting, can help you to think more clearly, openly and honestly. Breathing exercises are a great way to slow down, clear the mind and focus.
4. Welcome meditation into your practice
Meditation comes in so many forms, so explore which ones work for you.
You could try reading, getting out in the fresh air for a walk, or completing some low-impact exercise like yoga. All of these activities can help begin a self-reflection practice.
The importance of self-reflection
Feel too busy to self-reflect? This is very common.
Perhaps you can try reframing your thoughts around taking time out for yourself as a selfless act - when you take the time for support your mental health and wellbeing, replenish your energy levels and reflect on how far you’ve come and what you’ve learned, not only enables you to be at your best for yourself but also you’re in a better position to be at your best for others around you. So, as well as allowing yourself the time for reflection, this act can create a positive ripple effect.
Whether you are working on developing your career or improving you own personal wellness, spending time practising self-reflection can create space for more time later down the line, by allowing you to re-align your focus and feel more productive.
Original source: How to practice self-reflection