Earlier, we covered the importance of self-reflection as a tool for self-growth. When we take the time to investigate the “whys” underlying our behaviours, attitudes, motivations, and desires, we can get a good idea of our trajectory thus far and fine-tune certain aspects to move forward. Self-reflection also helps us to strengthen our sense of self and build better relationships.
If you are stuck, here are five ways you can use to kickstart the practice.
5 techniques to practice self-reflection
One easy way to look back to see any patterns in your thoughts, feelings and behaviours is to journal.
First, take stock of what happened in the past (be it last week, last month or last year), including the highlights and lowlights of that time. Look at the list of highlights and lowlights and try to see if there are any patterns.
- Do your highlights and lowlights involve certain people and certain activities?
- For each lowlight, how would you do it differently if it was within your control? If it wasn’t, how did you find peace with it?
Alternatively, when looking back on the past month or year, rate the following six areas of your life on a scale of 0 to 5. After rating these six areas, write the reasons why you feel that way.
- Mind: Do you feel clear-headed, engaged, and intellectually challenged?
- Body: Does your body feel healthy, nourished, and strong?
- Soul: Do you feel at peace and connected to the world around you?
- Work: Do you feel interested in and fulfilled by your work?
- Play: Do you feel joyful? Are you engaging in activities that bring you joy?
- Love: Do you feel positive about the relationships in your life?
- Writing exercise
Whenever your mind feels jumbled with endless thoughts and pressing decisions to make, write them all down. This process helps you to organise your thoughts better.
Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and write whatever comes to mind. Are there patterns to discern? Which thoughts keep recurring, and which thoughts are fleeting?
Self-reflection is best in a calm environment where you can unplug and focus on yourself. Meditation is a great way to boost your self-awareness, and there are plenty of meditation styles to try, such as guided meditation and mantra meditation.
As you sit in silence and focus on your breaths in the present moment, observe where the mind naturally wanders to – is it about your relationship with someone or upcoming work deadlines?
Take note of what you are thinking about, then bring back your focus to your breaths.
Through books, ranging from self-improvement to fiction to non-fiction, you can come away with plenty of self-actualisations of what you enjoy and don’t.
Specifically, you will realise which struggles you resonate with, or the characters you empathise with the most and which ones you don’t.
- Practice gratitude
Take the time to think about what you are thankful for at the end of the day. Practising gratitude regularly can help you see which values are most important to you. It also helps to boost your feelings of contentment and calm.
- Don’t rush the self-reflection exercise. Take the time to pause and deeply think about what truly matters to you.
- Be gentle with yourself. It can be hard and uncomfortable to sit alone yourself and ask hard questions, but it is essential for growth.
- Be honest with yourself. Self-reflection is a personal process to get to know yourself better.
- Regularly practise self-reflection. Looking inwards and asking yourself questions is a skill - like any other skill, it takes time and practice to develop.
How will you begin your self-reflection practice today?