Most of us have heard of the term ‘self-reflection’ before I’m sure. But I’m willing to bet that not many of us practice this regularly, and it’s a shame if you don’t. Let me tell you why.
To reflect on oneself is an incredibly powerful act to carry out if it's done properly. When you self-reflect, you take yourself out of your body and look at your habits, behaviours, past mistakes and overall being in the eye. You remove all the bullsh*t and really get down to the core of the person you are today and the steps you have taken to reach this position.
Really and truly, there is no proper way to undertake a self-reflective session. All I know is, you have to incorporate the following elements in order for you to reach any kind of benefit. These steps are what I know from my experience and its power has completely transformed my life.
"Self-reflection only works if you are completely transparent and honest with yourself."
Self-reflection only works if you are completely transparent and honest with yourself. That means admitting your mistakes (even if you really don’t want to), no matter how hard they may be to realise or uncomfortable they are to declare. With total and complete honesty, try asking yourself these 10 self-reflection questions to begin with and guide your session as you or your coach see fit:
- What are some of my biggest regrets?
- Are all of my grudges justified?
- Can I be a better person around my family and friends?
- Do I put enough effort into my relationships?
- Am I disappointed in myself? Why?
- Am I a pleasant person to be around?
- Who/what am I jealous of?
- What do I want most in my life?
- What/who do I miss having around me? Why are they/is it missing from my life?
- What am I in denial about?
These particular questions can be incredibly uncomfortable and potentially painful to answer. And that’s where the element of honesty is key because it is easy for us to lie in order to move on to the next question or push the topic to the side altogether. Now, these set of questions are more likely to tap into your negative emotions, so it may be worth throwing a few light-hearted ones into the mix like:
- What am I most proud of?
- What do I love about myself?
- What can I teach others?
- Would I like me if I met me? Why?
- What do others say are my best qualities?
Our Quotes & Questions card deck is a great tool to access some deep and challenging questions to ask.
Talk it out.
Even though it is possible to successfully self-reflect on your own, many of us might find this an extremely difficult thing to do - especially if we are prone to being in denial for example. In these cases, it may be worth speaking to a trusted friend or coach to verbally and mentally bounce your inner thoughts and feelings off. It is important to note that whoever you speak to must be completely unbiased and an encouraging figure in your life in order for this to really work.
You can even try the above reflective questions in these sessions and encourage a two-way conversation to expand your thoughts. Remember though, ultimately you must be aware of your individual thoughts and truth against the opinions of others that may enter this process. Nevertheless, it is always helpful to talk it out with another person if you have that opportunity. For those that don’t, talk it out with yourself out loud or in your journal.
Sit with your findings & own it.
"...there is no human being that can get through this life without any blemishes on their record."
Depending on what you discover and any epiphanies that you’re likely to come across, it is important to be with your new realisations without any action, even if it is just for a short moment. Be present and acknowledge your new understandings of your inner self and don’t do anything else other than simply being present.
Realise that you are on a journey and the acts of the past are simply a part of this journey. Understand that there is no human being that can get through this life without any blemishes on their record. Those blemishes may present themselves in the form of regrets, mistakes, unwanted behaviour, spiteful words, impulsive decisions, amongst many other things. You are not alone in this respect.
It is at this point we must come to a place of ownership. We must own our decisions that have created our current destiny and make a promise to ourselves, FOR ourselves, to move on. It is not that we need to forget our past, because we can’t. It is something that has moulded our destiny and will continue to do so, as with our current decisions and future decisions. It is instead that we accept our wrongdoings, as well as our good behaviour, and embrace those moments with love, empathy and positivity and try our best to welcome the lesson. Take this as an opportunity to grow and improve, which is something only self-reflection can achieve, and that is the power!
Take action and move on.
Once you release any burden and guilt you may have been holding from your moment of self-reflection, you need to be able to put it in a place that propels you forward in order to move into the next phases of your life with an empowering mindset. To do this successfully, it is important to ensure you do the previous step of sitting with your findings to reach a point of total acceptance. Now, we can begin to take action.
Depending on what you have found, our actions can, of course, look very different from one person to the next. Here are some examples of realisations and the appropriate actions you may undertake:
Realisation: You have realised that you betrayed your friend and were in denial about the events that took place since it happened. You miss your friend and want them back in your life.
Action: Contact your friend and make the necessary apology. Make sure your friend understands your motive for contacting them and be honest in your message. Despite your ideal outcome, be prepared for the worst case scenario before undertaking this action since the way your message is interpreted/the action of others can’t be predicted.
Realisation: You understand that your rivalry with your sibling is because you happen to be jealous of their achievements which has manifested into dislike and disrespectful behaviour.
Action: Only once you understand that jealousy is a normal emotion to experience butwill only serve you if you treat it as a source of inspiration rather than intimidation, you can contact your sibling. If there are any moments that have caused a rift between the two of you because of this, let your sibling know. Apologise where you see fit. Going forward, any jealousy that enters your psyche, take a moment and CONSCIOUSLY make the effort to approach the feeling with love as opposed to hate. This habit will eventually turn into automatic behaviour.
Realisation: You realise that a friendship is toxic and your friend is mentally draining you through no fault of your own. You stay in this relationship because you have known each other for years but you now understand that it is no longer serving you in a way you would like a relationship to.
Action: If you feel like this area is becoming a large source of discomfort in your life, contact your friend. Try and talk this out in a communication style you think your friend would respond well to but remember to be honest. See if your friend can see your point of view but be understanding if they show a defensive attitude. Nonetheless, if this is causing you harm, you need to put your needs first and advise that you’d potentially need to keep some distance or completely lose the friendship if things don’t change.
It is important to note that the ideal outcomes we imagine in various relationships may not actually come into fruition, so do not be too discouraged if you don’t see the results you had intended from other people. You need to accept that you can’t change another person, especially their behaviour. They must do it themselves using their own source of motivation. This is where we would hope this individual will find a way to embrace self-reflection as a tool that could transform their own lives, as you have done with yours.
I continue to use self-reflection as a tool in my life. This truly works if you’re open-minded enough to take on the challenge and give your most vulnerable self to this exercise - you will see huge benefits. Use self-reflection as a tool to grow, improve and lighten the burden you have been carrying for years.
Let me know your favourite techniques to self-reflect in the comments!
By Tinisha Savage on behalf of Let's Talk Coaching.
Opinions expressed by Let's Talk Coaching contributors are their own.
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