How many of us practice self-reflection?

Now I do and sometimes it’s hard because I may not have dealt with a situation the way I would have liked, and I feel guilty or embarrassed. Self-reflection gives me the opportunity to look at what I have said or done and look for ways I can improve myself. I can also reflect on and be proud about the things I have handled well.

I wasn’t always like this. In fact, regular introspection is new to me and I have been actively practicing this daily for a little over two years. It definitely makes a difference to my life and it’s another way for me to find peace, a kind of balance.

How many of us have said something or reacted in a way that we later regretted? Did you beat yourself up about it (this was an easy one for me), or try and forget it ever happened? How many times have you done something amazing or handled a situation really well and didn’t acknowledge it?

By looking at ourselves in this way we learn to grow and develop.

I recently had an instance where I was with a group of people in a class. One of them, the tutor, whom I didn’t know was acting quite strangely and had obvious aphasia. A disorder resulting from damage or injury to the specific area in the brain which affects, reading, writing and speech. As this person was trying to teach and was clearly struggling, they were also becoming more and more inappropriate. I was uncomfortable with the whole thing and my go to response was to leave, which I ultimately did. When I later got home, I sat and tried to understand why I felt so uncomfortable. This person had brain damage and I knew it, and I knew that they probably didn’t realise the impact of their behaviour or words. What could I have done differently?

I did voice my concerns to the tutor privately, but maybe I could have said more. I could have tried to help them understand the difficulties the class was having, and I could have been more empathetic and understanding and tried to explain better why the class should end. I felt bad that I hadn’t done more. As it was weekend training, the school wasn’t open so I couldn’t contact anyone. This person shouldn’t have been put in the situation they were in. It was unfair on them and the class. (The situation has now been resolved)

I can’t change how it all played out, and there is no benefit to anyone for me to worry about how I felt or my initial reaction, but I can learn from the situation and going forward implement the strategies I use at work or home if something happens and I need to have a difficult conversation.

It is said that self-reflection strengthens emotional intelligence by allowing us to become more self-aware and self-regulatory. Self-awareness allows us the ability to understand our emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values and goals, and recognise their impact on others. Self-regulation involves the ability to control or redirect our disruptive emotions and impulses and adapt to changing circumstances. 

Practicing self-reflection has increased my confidence. Yes, I still mess up, but I am conscious that I am a work in progress, and I have to keep looking at myself, my behaviours and thoughts and keep improving myself, one step at a time.

Does anyone else practice self-reflection? Has it made a difference in your life?


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