Self-reflection isn’t for cowards.
It’s not “navel-gazing,” either. And it’s not something only introverts know how to do.
If you can ask yourself questions and answer them honestly, you can do this.
And the better you know yourself and your deepest leanings, the better you can understand and help others, too.
But how do you reflect on yourself? And what do you get out of it?
What is Self-Reflection?
Simply put, self-reflection is taking time to focus inward in order to answer important questions about yourself:
- Who are you?
- What are your core values?
- Who do you want to be?
In order to answer these three questions fully, though, it helps to break each of them down into smaller questions and focus on one at a time.
What are you good at? What did you learn from your last mistake? What do you admire most about the people you look up to?
And what do you hope to gain by knowing yourself better?
9 Benefits of Self-Reflection
The importance of self-reflection is closely tied to the benefits listed below.
1. Knowing Your Core Values
The deeper you go into your own self, the more easily you identify your core personal values.
When you know what matters most to you, it’s easier to identify the “why” behind the choices you make, the company you keep, and the things you want to do with your life.
It’s also easier to know why something bothers you and whether you should do something about it.
2. Understanding Your Purpose and Potential
Knowing your unique potential and purpose begins with self-reflection.
The more conscious you are of your strengths and weaknesses, the more you can see what you’re able to contribute – and what you need to work on.
And you’re more likely to focus your energy where it’ll do the most good.
Part of your self-reflection should include questioning the beliefs you’ve held onto regarding your potential, your identity, and your purpose.
Some beliefs aren’t worth keeping. And you’ll learn to recognize that and let them go.
3. Big-Picture Thinking
Daily self-reflection helps you make sense of the world and your place in it.
When you’re aware of what matters most to you, you’re less likely to get sidetracked by petty details — and better able to put things in perspective.
You’ll become a big-picture thinker.
Your self-awareness will make it easier for you to stand outside yourself and your emotions (as well as those of other people).
And when you can do that, it’s much easier to be fully present without being overwhelmed.
You can allow your intuition to guide you to the right vantage point.
And from there, you can see what you never saw before.
4. Facing Your Fears
The more self-aware you are, the more aware you become of what’s holding you back and preventing your growth.
Recognizing your fears for what they are — and seeing what blessings are on the other side of those fears — can give you the strength you need to face them.
As you grow in self-awareness, you’ll want to face them. And your courage will grow as you conquer one after the other.
5. Better Decision-Making
With self-reflection, you become more aware of your inner voice and all that it’s trying to tell you.
With that stronger connection, you’ll find it easier to make decisions.
That inner voice knows things. And it doesn’t waste time on unimportant details.
The more self-aware you are, the less distracted you’re likely to be by other people’s opinions and other mental clutter. And that means you can think more clearly.
Clear thinking leads to breakthroughs. And who wouldn’t love more of those?
6. Better Relationships
The better you know yourself, the better able you are to see connections between you and the people around you. Your emotional intelligence grows with your self-awareness.
The higher your EQ, the easier it is to connect with others on a deeper level.
And the less likely you are to worry about what they think of you.
You’ll also have a better sense of what the people close to you really need — because you’ll be more aware and respectful of your own true needs.
7. Less Stress and Anxiety
The more self-aware you become, the less likely you are to worry about what could happen, what hasn’t happened yet, or what could happen.
I’m not saying you’ll suddenly stop feeling anxiety; but if you’re more aware of the reasoning behind the anxiety, you can offer a counterargument based on things you know to be true.
Thoughts are powerful. And your thoughts — when you’re living more consciously — can help you weather the storms, even if you can’t prevent their ever happening.
8. Better Sleep
As long as bedtime isn’t your “self-examination” time, you’re likely to fall asleep sooner if you’re not worried or anxious.
You’ll sleep even better if you set the stage for it.
Start by expressing gratitude for the day and its blessings.
Then offer any remaining concerns to Love, to the Source of all good, or to whatever spirit you trust to guide you.
The less you carry with you to the pillow, the freer your mind will be to rest.
9. Self-Acceptance and Compassion
Self-acceptance is impossible without self-knowledge, which comes after self-examination.
Only when you start self-reflecting on a daily basis can you recognize the areas that need work and learn to appreciate your unique gifts.
So, only then can you learn to love, forgive, and accept yourself as you are, without needing anyone’s permission.
Tips on Practicing Self-Reflection
Now that you know the benefits of self-reflection, use the following tips to make it a daily habit.
1. Schedule your daily self-reflection time.
If you don’t set out to make it an essential part of your day, you’ll find it too easy to skip it in favor of something you find easier to do – especially if you save it for after work.
The best time for self-reflection is when you have the mental and emotional energy to answer difficult questions and process what you’re thinking and feeling.
And the best way to make sure you’ll do the work is to schedule it. Block out some time for it, and set a reminder, so you won’t forget.
2. Challenge yourself with difficult questions.
These can come from a list or spring from a situation in which you find yourself.
If you can’t answer questions when they come to mind, write them down, so you can get to them later.
The important thing is to ask the questions (one at a time) and to give yourself the chance to answer them honestly.
You also need time to think about your answers and to come up with follow-up questions.
3. Journal every day.
The simple practice of daily journaling will accelerate the benefits of self-reflection by signaling your brain to pay closer attention to your questions and answers, as well as to any observations and insights you write down.
With journaling, you create space between you and what you write down. And that distance helps you process it more objectively.
Besides that, you’ll have a written record of your progress.
4. Consider counseling or spiritual direction.
It’s not easy to let people dig into your psyche — especially when you haven’t quite let go of the things you want to believe about yourself.
The more you practice self-reflection, though, the harder it is to hold onto those beliefs.
And the more you realize how much they’re holding you back.
There’s nothing wrong with enlisting the help of someone who can speed up the process.
5. Spend more time in nature.
Something about spending time surrounded by nature makes it easier for you to slow down and take stock of what’s going on in your head.
Just taking a deep breath of fresh air and seeing the wind in the trees makes you want to clear the clutter out of your mind and make room for more beauty.
It inspires you to make changes.
And becoming more aware of your connection to the natural world makes it easier to let go of beliefs that are blocking your growth.
6. Practice mindfulness meditation.
It’s impossible to reflect on yourself when you’re fixated on the past or the future. You can only grow in self-awareness when you’re fully present.
Daily mindful meditation can ensure that you spend time every day paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judging them.
Doing so helps you learn to accept yourself (and others) without judgment.
Start the day with it, and you’re more likely to face the challenges ahead with gratitude and hope.
7. Don’t overdo it.
Don’t spend so much time in introspection that you don’t get anything else done.
And remember the goal of self-reflection isn’t to constantly remind you of your mistakes.
The purpose is self-reflection is greater self-awareness – not judgment. There is such a thing as too much self-analysis.
This is another reason to consciously set aside a block of time for daily self-reflection.
When you know there’s a limit to the time you have for introspection, you’re more likely to use that time to advantage.
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Will you enjoy the benefits of self-reflection?
No one becomes the person they want to be if they don’t know who that is.
And in order to know that, you need to spend time getting to know the person you are now — what you’re proud of, what you value most, and what you need to work on.
Everyone is a work in progress. And if you believe in karma, you know that life isn’t about collecting toys or climbing the biggest mountain.
It’s about learning what you need to learn in the time you’re given.
It’s also about building the connections that will help you become who you want to be.
Every life has a lesson plan. And everyone you meet has something to teach you.
May you bless everyone you meet today.