- Self reflection refers to your in-depth awareness of the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects that govern your life.
- This is a process of mirroring and assessing yourself consciously.
- Self reflective people are thoughtful, introspective, and purposeful.
- They know their wishes and desires, dreams and goals, strengths and weaknesses.
- When you know the deeper aspects of yourself, self reflection takes place.
Are you aware of your inner psychic processes? Have you ever tried to reflect upon your deepest feelings? Do you know the values that guide your life and living?
Have you been in a process of self-awareness? If yes, then you are already conscious of the process known as Self reflection.
It is also commonly known as reflective awareness. In this process, you delve deep within yourself and try to understand your thoughts, feelings, desires, attitudes, motivation, and much more.
People who are self-reflective are aware of themselves. They actually know themselves much better than anyone else.
Maybe all the deeper parts of oneself get revealed through this contemplative process.
Let’s understand this reflection process in detail…
Self reflection – definition and meaning
Self reflection is the process to understand, evaluate, and give thought to one’s inner mental workings. It’s about reviewing and mulling over the cognitive and emotional aspects that make you who you are.
When you are contemplating and giving serious thought to your inner psychic processes, it means you’re into a process of self reflection.
You’re analyzing your character, motives, wishes, and desires. Maybe you are trying to get an idea about all those psychic processes that regulate your actions and behavior.
Sometimes, self reflection also means an introspective process.
You’re trying to communicate with your inner world and reflect upon the weaknesses that are restricting you to achieve your life goals.
This type of personal reflection helps you to take time out of your everyday life. You are meditating on your thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
It is a deep dive analysis of you that unleashes your deepest secrets and wildest choices.
When you know yourself in the best possible ways, you’ll be able to carve a life of your choice.
People who self reflect are aware of their attitudes and motives. They know what matters to them in life.
What does self reflection look like?
Self reflection is the ability that helps in self-awareness. It leads to personal growth and is en route to happiness and success.
The process gives you a clear idea of what your values and goals are. It makes you aware of the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
It’s a highly useful process because it helps to untangle conflicts, heal wounds, and remove the deepest scars of your life.
Self reflection takes out buried memories that might not be pleasant. You’re already on the path of self-validating and accepting your feelings as they are, without evaluations.
This reflective awareness acts as a control mechanism. It allows you to look beyond consciousness.
You are made to dig deeper into the unconscious and reflect upon those thoughts that actually mirror your true self.
When you know yourself well, you become an aware being. You know what drives you to take action and improve your life and living.
Signs of self reflection
You must be eager to know the typical signs of self reflection. So let’s get started:
- Acceptance of your helpful and unhelpful thoughts.
- Self reflection shows a non-judgmental acceptance of your feelings.
- It leads to admitting mistakes.
- When you reflect and mirror your thoughts, you become a self-aware person.
- You will never avoid taking hard decisions in life
- There will be fewer worries about past and future happenings.
- Clarity of feelings comes from self reflection.
- Free expression of feelings occurs.
- The person has less nitpicky tendencies.
- You will not become defensive when others try to evaluate you.
- You will prefer to live in the moments of life.
- Asking questions to ‘self’ will occur too often.
- Many unanswered questions will come to your mind.
- There is so much that you are unaware of. Maybe seeking solutions to your problems also.
- No pretensions but only acceptance.
- You will have varied perspectives and it will make you more tolerant and accepting of others’ mistakes.
- You will focus on reaching your full potential.
- Honesty is the key that keeps you aware of what you love, what you hate, and what you can’t let go of in life.
- You will choose your words wisely so that it appears firm, yet respectful for others to follow.
Why is self reflection important?
Self reflection is a conscious practice of self-awareness. You are trying to understand and perceive things, and trying to evaluate the psychic processes deeply.
Thus, this process is not just experiencing, but it refers to a non-judgmental mastery of your thinking and feeling processes.
Do you remember the last moment when you closely watched your inner processes? Are you aware that you need to reflect on these processes to improve your life?
The reality is we live in a fast-paced world. We all are busy realizing big goals in life. In this hustle-bustle, we tend to forget that we really need a break.
We ignore our deepest desires and wishes and have forgotten to slow down and push the pause button in our life.
Self reflection teaches us just that. It reminds us to take some time out and look within ourselves.
Let’s see how self reflection can give you a definite purpose in life.
The points of importance of self reflection
The power of self reflection and its subtle influences on your daily life are as follows:
- Self reflection helps to improve our perceptions. It reduces cognitive bias and helps to decide with clarity.
- It improves self-connection.
- Self reflection is important to know your deepest pains and sufferings so that you can move towards emotional healing.
- This process helps to identify faulty thoughts and beliefs so that they cannot consume and overpower you.
- Self reflection improves your understanding of the world around you.
- It helps you to fine-tune your needs, wishes, and aspirations according to the demands of social living.
- Self reflection is a mindfulness practice that makes you aware of all things happening in your life.
- It helps you to respond more and react less in stressful situations because now you’re quite good at emotional self-regulation.
- It reveals the mysteries that lie in you.
- Self reflection can put to rest all your anxious thoughts.
- It stops the mind chatter and makes you feel relaxed and poised.
- You are aware of your life’s challenges and can take up necessary actions to overcome them.
- Self-love and self-awareness come from reflecting on your thoughts and feelings.
- It embarks you on a journey of realizing your fullest potential.
- You will be able to make life choices with awareness and clarity.
- Self reflection is an art in itself. It enables you to know the strengths and weaknesses of your personality.
- Your inner dialogue asks you several questions that are in-depth and provides clues to why you think, feel, and behave in the way that you do.
The key elements of self reflection
Do you know that real-time self reflection is not as common as we may think? Most people just self reflect just for the sake of doing it.
In the real sense of the word, Self-reflection is a mirror of our inner world.
It’s a retrospection of our mistakes and drawbacks; you are noticing, assessing, and probably evaluating every small detail of your inner world.
If you are into the process of self reflection, you must know that it involves three key elements. They are as follows:
If you want to self-reflect, you will have to be an open-minded person. An open-minded attitude refers to your ability to see things as they are. It means flexibility in outlook and attitudes.
Being an open-minded person, you will appreciate your deepest feelings as it is. You will never try to judge your feelings as right or wrong.
Openness is the key to self reflection. It allows self-acceptance. Maybe you will be able to understand your weaknesses in a new way and try to overcome them.
You will have fewer stereotypes about yourself and the people around you. Openness helps you to cultivate your qualities. You become an informed being who is ready to take the world.
Openness can be developed in the following ways:
- Attend to your thoughts and feelings
- Resolve your conflicts in a healthy way
- Accept other people as they are
- Be flexible and never judge people by their outward behavior. Look for the hidden intentions behind their actions.
- Accept your mistakes openly and feel responsible for your actions.
This element of self-reflection symbolizes watchfulness and monitoring of your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior.
If you have good observation power, you’ll quickly understand your maladaptive and disturbing thoughts.
It’s likely that you’ll get to know your negative emotions and maladaptive behavior patterns also.
Observation improves attention and you will have a better idea of what’s going on inside you.
Observation can lead to self reflection by making you aware of the following things.
- Awareness of your unhelpful thoughts
- Unhealed wounds and trauma
- Broken relationships, if any
- Anxieties and fear responses
- Irrational thoughts
- Faulty beliefs
- The clarity in points of view or varied opinions
Observation can be improved by attending to the moments of life. If you cultivate mindfulness, you’ll be able to calm down your wandering mind.
Sometimes the self reflection is possible only if you can put a stop to the continuous flow of unhelpful thoughts and negative feelings.
Mindfulness meditation connects you to the inner world of absolute bliss. Thus, this is a wonderful way to self reflect.
It can actually turn you into a fully functioning being who is self-aware, conscious, and alert.
Self reflection relies on objective thinking and rational judgments about yourself. It refers to your ability to separate your feelings and behavior from biased attitudes and evaluations.
Being objective means you’re free from stereotypes. Your evaluations are based on logic and reasoning.
Most often we have irrational and intrusive thoughts that cloud our perception of reality. We cannot see and judge things in an objective way.
Thus, we fall prey to wrong beliefs about ourselves. These act as obstacles to self reflection.
You need to be a fair-minded person to live a righteous life. Self reflection is not possible if your ideas are biased and prejudiced.
You need to detach yourself fully from biased ideas to become an aware and informed being.
You can cultivate objectivity in the following ways:
- Do not assign meaning to your thoughts because meanings are highly subjective in nature. No two individuals will assign the same meaning to a particular situation.
- Accept all your feelings in a non-judgmental way.
- Stop cultivating your biased ideas.
- Try to remain open-minded and flexible as much as possible.
- Use a thought diary and write your thoughts and the immediate triggers. Also, refer to the feelings that come with these thoughts.
- Try to reframe your negative thoughts with positive self-talk.
- Remind yourself that your thoughts (good and bad) are a part of you. Thus, accept them as authentic and true. Avoid judging these thoughts because in most cases they are irrational, unhelpful, and biased. This will lead to developing good objectivity skills.
Self reflection exercises
Self reflection is a time when you look back on yourself. Just as when you see yourself in a mirror and it shows the real ‘you,’ self reflection mirrors your inside processes.
It makes you see, feel, realize, and understand the secrets of your unconscious mind.
Sometimes it is necessary to check in with yourself and see the performance of ‘you’ as a whole. So, self reflection exercises just help you do this contemplation in the right way.
Self reflection tests your patience and tenacity. You’ll learn the secrets of yourself that were unknown or you never wished to know them.
Self reflection is all about self-examination. It’s a learning tool that increases awareness and guides your life’s path toward success.
For example, you were given the responsibility of handling a big project but you didn’t perform up to the mark.
If you sit quietly, you will self-reflect on all those things that have happened over the last few days, or even weeks.
In this process, you will ask yourself several questions just to get an idea about what went wrong. Why did you fail miserably? Have you kept your performance bar too high?
These questions are examples of self reflection. Maybe you are trying to understand and evaluate what could have been done to improve your skills, thereby improving the outcome of the project.
You can start self reflection by looking into the past happenings, like rewinding each episode and I-uncover the hidden issues one by one.
To get started, we have some exercises for you. When you don’t understand how to initiate the process of self reflection, you can follow these guidelines as an easy practice tool.
Exercise 1 – To understand why the breakup happened after so many years
If you were given the opportunity to identify the causes of the breakup by self-reflecting on your life, how would you do it?
Just set aside 10 minutes and ask yourself some reflective questions.
- What have I learned from my relationship?
- Was I really happy or was I pretending to be happy?
- How much accountability do I have over this relationship?
- Did I react much more than what was necessary?
- What barriers were there between the two of us?
- Should I give this relationship one more chance?
- What could have been done to avoid this breakup?
- Was it my fault? Did I give my 100% into the relationship?
Exercise 2 – You failed in an office project and got to hear harsh words from the boss
A careful self-reflection helps you learn big lessons in life.
You become aware of your shortcomings and would know how to turn them into opportunities for growth and innovation.
- What lessons did I learn from this failure?
- Do I need to show more patience in understanding my competitors?
- What barriers came across and how should I deal with them?
- Did I acquire any new knowledge?
- What will I do next time to become successful?
- How can I improve my work skills so that my mistakes do not get repeated again?
- Should I speak about my problems in the office?
- Should I seek support from co-workers if needed?
Exercise 3 – To reflect on your life’s purpose
- Do I know my life goals?
- What purpose makes me aware of myself?
- What is that one thing in my life which matters the most?
- Will I be able to align my thoughts, feelings, and actions with my life’s purpose?
15 benefits of self reflection
After knowing so much about the process of self reflection, you must be eager to know how self reflection is beneficial for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Self reflection is for the brave hearts. It’s all about asking several questions to you and answering each question honestly. While doing so, you’ll get hold of the deeper aspects of yourself.
There are several short-term and long-term benefits of self reflection. Some of them are as follows:
1. You will get to know your values
Knowing oneself is not easy as it may sound. But, if you try doing it consciously, nothing is impossible. Self reflection helps to identify the core values that guide your life.
The more you delve deep inside you; it becomes easier to know your likes, dislikes, weaknesses, etc. In this way, you will become an aware being.
2. Realizing your potential
The potentials are skills and abilities that make you who you are. When you know your innate talents, you can nurture them at any time.
You will take action to turn these potentials into actionable goals. Then, you will be able to focus your energy and invest in it to achieve your goals.
3. Big picture thinking
If you think big, you will achieve big. Self reflection helps to highlight your strengths and turns your weaknesses into opportunities for further learning.
A good practice of self reflection helps to get a sense of yourself and where you stand in the crowd.
If your focus is good and you are aware of your life goals, you will never get sidetracked.
Your focus will be intact and the bigger picture of realizing life goals will take a concrete shape.
Sometimes self reflection also allows you to keep aside your emotions and think in objective ways. You know where you fall short and what needs to be done to correct yourself.
4. Self reflection helps to face fears and insecurities
The benefit of self reflection is that it allows you to become conscious of the things that are holding you back in life.
It teaches you the art of conflict resolution and letting go of those negative thoughts and feelings that acts as barriers to personal growth.
Self reflection helps in healing the wounds that can make you anxious. You are confident to face your fears and conquer them steadily.
5. Better decision-making ability
Self reflection helps in good decision-making. As you become conscious of your inner call, you are becoming an informed person.
Thus, you will not waste time on unnecessary stuff but will notice those things that matter the most in life.
You will be less distracted, and more empowered to make the right choices in life.
6. You will have wonderful relationships
Self reflection helps to develop emotional intelligence. You will be able to connect with others with humility and gratitude.
You will have secure and loving relationships because you will accept people as they are, not the way you want them to be.
7. Less anxiety and stress levels
Self reflection is the key to mental well-being. The more aware you are of your inner world, you will not think about what has not happened, or what could happen in the future.
It means your worries will take a back seat. Your objective mind can reason out the causes of your anxiousness. Then, it will tell you the ways to eliminate anxiety fully.
8. Self reflection improves sleep
When you’re less anxious, you will sleep well. Always be grateful for all the good things that life has offered you. Self reflection brings greater peace and happiness as well.
9. Self-acceptance and compassion
Self reflection leads to better awareness. You become a well-informed individual with lots of good talents to work on. Maybe, you will be compassionate towards others as well.
10. SWOT analysis
Self reflection helps to identify your threats and opportunities. When you are aware of your blind spots, you know how to overcome them.
Moreover, you will be motivated to take some decisive action to improve your personal and professional life.
11. Self reflection helps to develop plans and strategies for personal growth
Self reflection is a personal analysis process. It helps you to plan and chalk out some ways to develop yourself.
You will be able to think clearly and make an action plan to reach your goals. Your mind will focus on the problems that need solutions and will make plans accordingly.
Self reflection helps to resolve issues on a priority basis. Your mind will not wander aimlessly rather it will work systematically to find solutions to the issues you are facing in reality.
12. Better self-esteem
Self reflection leads to a deeper understanding of us.
Thus, it’s obvious that when we know our innate nature well, we will be able to show respect for who we are and what we can achieve in life.
This improves our self-esteem and social regard.
13. Improves work performance
Self reflection enables you to know your weaknesses. Thus, you will work on those pitfalls to improve your work efficiency and performance.
This will help you get better in your career and personal life. It will lead to better self-confidence.
Moreover, your resilience will get better and you will be able to face all odds with a lot of inner strength and courage.
14. General happiness and inner peace
Self reflection leads to improved happiness and general well-being. You will always act with purpose. You will feel agile and energetic in your life’s journey.
15. Stress handling gets better
You will be able to tackle stressful situations in life in a better way. It will improve your skills and your problem-solving abilities will also improve.
Thus, you will handle trying times with more confidence and courage.
How do you self-reflect? (12 ways to start a journey of self reflection)
Self reflection means giving serious thought to your psychological and emotional state of being.
The process requires your willingness to delve deeper into the core processes that make you the way you are.
There are several ways to practice self reflection. Here, we give you 12 ways to practice this art consciously and transform your life the way you want.
1. Asking questions to yourself
The art of self reflection starts with answering deep questions about yourself. Once you decide to self reflect you will have to ask many questions to know what’s going on in your life.
Some of the thought-provoking reflection questions could be:
- What is my goal in life?
- Am I doing enough to reach my goal?
- What is holding me back these days?
- Am I comfortable talking about my deepest pains and sufferings?
- Do I need to practice more self-awareness every day to transform my world into a happier and peaceful abode?
- What else can I do to hone my skills?
- How am I feeling right now?
Sit in silence and observe all the thoughts that come to you in a given moment. Analyze your feelings and accept them without inhibitions and fears.
Let the thousand thought trains cross your mind and remain calm without doing anything. You’ll feel empowered and in tune with yourself.
Self reflection involves witnessing your thoughts and feelings come and go in a given moment. So, a great way to track them is by writing in a journal.
This type of reflective essay or reflective paper note is a handy tool to keep a track of your thoughts and feelings.
You can write about the details of your internal state of mind. It is a great way to look for old patterns and habits that you need to let go of, for good mental health and happiness.
Journaling is a writing exercise.
Whenever you feel confused about your puzzling thoughts, just sit down and write about everything and anything that comes to your mind. It’s a great method to connect with you.
4. Take a nature walk
You can take a nature walk by visiting a nearby park and declutter your mind. It relaxes you and helps you develop clarity and self-awareness.
When you are away from home for some time, it helps you to rejuvenate. It improves mood and clears up the mind.
Thus, whenever you feel stuck in a rut of problems, try to get some fresh air. It’s a real-time ‘me-feeling’ that can energize you. You will be in a better position to connect with yourself.
5. Talk out loud and express yourself
Sometimes, self reflection requires talking to oneself. If you want to connect with yourself at very deeper levels, try to talk out loud all that crosses your mind.
You will also be able to relate to your negative feelings about something and overcome them.
6. Practice breathing exercises
Deep breathing relaxes your wandering mind. It brings you into a conscious state of mind where you will be able to reflect upon your thoughts and feelings with clarity and awareness.
You should practice breathing exercises to calm down and feel control of your overwhelming emotions. Relaxation techniques stop mind chatting. It brings you to peace with yourself.
7. Analyze the past events
A big part of self reflection involves understanding and analyzing old patterns of thoughts. These disturbing thoughts are no longer serving any good purpose in life.
Thus, in order to let go of these thoughts and old habits, you’ll have to be aware of them. This awareness comes from an analysis of these past events.
Ask yourself whether your reactions to those events were well-thought-out or it was an instant reaction to the spur of the moment.
The moment you get the answer, you become an informed person. Your ‘self reflection’ is successfully done.
8. Practice gratitude
Think about what life has offered you. Feel grateful for all the good things and achievements that have come to you for so long.
Every day, reflect on at least three things that you are grateful for and feel the joy that fills your heart.
9. Keep a track of how you feel
You should regularly track your feelings regularly. This is a method to observe all those faulty feelings that cause unnecessary overwhelming trends.
Notice the trends in moods and whether you frequently do get mood swings. Try to analyze the situations that make you feel bad.
This helps a lot in self reflection. Tap the troubling emotions and remove them on the way.
Seeing and knowing the causes of your instant reaction are the best way to reflect on your feelings. It helps to create better response patterns.
10. Do a regular self-check
Simply sit down and think about your career, relationships, goals, and aspirations.
Self-check involves analyzing each and every aspect of your life. It makes you realize the areas of your life that need improvement.
Also, think about what new things you can do in your life. Are you happy with the efforts that you have put on so far to improve your life?
11. Set life goals that satisfy your purpose in life
You should develop specific life goals to reduce confusion and improve focus and clarity.
The clearer you are about what you wish to do in life, you will be in a better position to reflect on those things that may hold you back in life.
12. Seek support from family and friends
Sometimes self reflection can be a puzzling affair. You may lose sight of your thoughts and feelings.
At times, you may feel overwhelmed and may feel that nothing is going according to the plans.
In such a situation, you should seek support from your family members and friends.
They will guide you in the right direction and help you wade through emotional turmoil and unhelpful thoughts.
Feel confident about your ability but at the same time remember that there is always help nearby.
You can also consult a life coach or therapist to understand the deeper aspects of you.
Self reflection activities
The self reflection activities are tools and techniques that aim to develop your understanding and clarity about yourself. It focuses on introspection and personal empowerment.
You can do several activities in your daily life to reflect on your wildest thoughts and deepest feelings.
You will get to know why you behave in ways that you do; or why certain things come to you easily while others don’t?
Two self-reflection activities that suit all age groups of people are
- Mindfulness meditation
- Grounding techniques
This activity makes you aware of the present moments. Neither do you ruminate about past happenings nor do you think too much about the unknown future?
You’re just living the moments of your life with absolute bliss and happiness.
- Clear away your negative thoughts
- Be aware of your 5 senses and what information they are trying to convey
- Remain open to all the experiences that come to you
- Experience the inner solitude and reflect upon all the thoughts that come to you at that moment
- Think about the moments of anger, frustration, or anxiety and why did it all happen
- Hunt for peaceful solutions to the problems you might be facing daily
- Ask open-ended questions to know the ‘present’ situation.
Mindfulness meditation allows you to let go of those thoughts, feelings, and faulty beliefs that no longer serve a good purpose in your life.
It is one of the best activities to self-reflect and builds up a greater awareness of your inner world.
When we talk about grounding, we actually mean your connection with the energy of Mother Earth. It means to experience the moment and live in ‘here and ‘now.’
This technique is the best-known way to self-reflect. It makes you attend to the senses and bring all your conscious thoughts to the present moment.
One of the most popular techniques is the 54321 technique. It is used to reflect on your unhelpful thoughts and untapped emotions that were suppressed and were not serving any good purpose in life.
Self reflection books
At times when you take some moments out of your busy schedule to reflect upon your thoughts and feelings, you actually feel empowered. Don’t you?
Exploring the underlying causes of your emotions and behavior is highly insightful. To develop this insight in the right way, you can read some self-improvement books that are both encouraging and motivating.
Some of the best-sellers are given below:
1. The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates The Material world – Amit Goswami
2. 7 Mindsets To Master Self-Awareness – by Elizabeth Diamond
3. Alchemy 365: A Self Awareness Workbook – Brenda Lightfeather Marroy
4. Insight – The Power of Self-Awareness in a Self-Deluded World – Tasha Eurich
Introspection vs. self reflection
Introspection and self reflection are the two processes to know yourself in a better way. But are these processes mean the same thing?
No, they are closely connected with each other but not entirely the same. The differences are highlighted below:
|It is the ability to mirror and see-through one’s cognitive and emotional processes clearly.||It is the analysis of one’s mental state. Calmly review thoughts and feelings leading to accepting them as real and a part of you.|
|It’s meditating and self-absorbing in the deepest aspects of oneself. More engrossed process than introspection. John Dewey proposed self reflection as a method of ideal learning.||Introspection was first identified by Wilhelm Wundt in mainstream psychology as a method to understand oneself.|
|The art of self reflection relies more on self-awareness.||Introspection relies on an overall self-evaluation.|
The connection between self reflection and self-awareness
Self reflection involves mirroring your thoughts and seeing your inner processes closely.
This process decides the quality of awareness that you will have about your life and well-being.
Thus, these two processes are interwoven and cannot be separated from each other. You can say that one decides the functionality of the other.
When you set aside some time to reflect every day and closely observe and think about your thoughts and emotions, you’re self-reflecting on your internal state of being.
The more you practice this process consciously; you become a self-aware person.
The video link given below shows the concept of self reflection in a detailed manner. Do check out.
Summing Up from ‘ThePleasantMind’
Self reflection gives you an opportunity to grow as a person. You can improve your life and living.
When you reflect on your true thoughts and feelings, you become a fully functioning and poised person.
You know your blind spots and strengths much more than others.
This process leads to awakening and you are in tune with the positive side of human growth and development.
It is a slow process that needs patience. With time, you will be equipped to self-reflect in the best possible way.
You should always start this practice slowly and move on to achieve greater heights.
Apart from this, if you are looking for person-centric psychotherapy that helps to attain closure of past and present sufferings, then do click here!
A Psychologist with a master's degree in Psychology, a former school psychologist, and a teacher by profession Chandrani loves to live life simply and happily. She is an avid reader and a keen observer. Writing has always been a passion for her, since her school days. It helps to de-stress and keeps her mentally agile. Pursuing a career in writing was a chance occurrence when she started to pen down her thoughts and experiences for a few childcare and parenting websites. Her lovable niche includes mental health, parenting, childcare, and self-improvement. She is here to share her thoughts and experiences and enrich the lives of few if not many.