When was the last time you took a pause to self-reflect on your life? Maybe it was at the beginning of the year when most of us saw how the past year has been. But other than that, there aren’t opportune circumstances or rewards for practicing self-reflection. Firstly, it isn’t an easy thing to practice. And our phones and devices make it so easy to hurry forward rather than being at one with our own thoughts.
But self-reflection is a crucial skill (especially because it is rare & difficult to practice in the screen-run Earth) for self-development. Self-reflection gives room for shifting your mindset, allowing some positivity in your life, and becoming more self-aware. Self-reflection has allowed me to examine my life from an external lens, question my unhelpful beliefs, and helped me respond to difficult situations effectively.
But how do you even practice self-reflection and make it a regular habit? In this article, I will give you 5 methods that you can use to inculcate self-reflection in your everyday life:
1. Find A Self-Reflection Activity That Works For You
I know there are tons of blog posts and self-help advice out there that lists activities you should do for self-reflection. But there is no one way to live an examined life. Journaling with old-school pen and paper works wonders for me. But my friend finds the same thing in doing a daily mediation practice. Many people find that writing a regular gratitude journal helps them in self-reflection. The only goal of self-reflection is making you pause and think about your life from a distance. It hardly matters what activity you choose to accomplish that. It may be trial-and-error in the beginning, but you will find an activity that you enjoy and that helps you with self-reflection the most. Just stick to that activity.
“Remind yourself that you cannot fail at being yourself.” – Wayne Dyer
2. Schedule A Meeting With Yourself
If it’s not on the calendar, you won’t do it. Schedule and block time on your calendar for self-reflection. This is the best way to not allow “life” to get in the way of living an examined life. It doesn’t have to be a lot – you can schedule even just 10 minutes in the beginning. But no backsies. This time is for you and not for moving around to tomorrow’s to-do list. This way you are held accountable and it will make you more committed to developing a habit of self-reflection. Starting small is a good way to ensure you stick to the practice. Earlier, I used to block time for 10 minutes and write. Every week, I increased this time by 5 minutes until I reached the ideal 30-minutes or so that suits my needs.
3. Use Self-Reflection Questions As Your Resource
There are many days when my mind is too loud but I can’t seem to write anything in my self-reflection practice. My mind goes blank. This is when I use the various self-reflection questions available online to my aid. This gives me a simple list of questions to ask myself. It also assists me in getting out of the slump and noticing the bigger picture. Many times our minds are too busy to find the right questions to ask ourselves. This is when online resources can help. I find most of my questions on Google by simply typing “introspection questions” – there are literally so many of these that I can never exhaust them all. It also helps to follow people who talk about self-reflection and regularly give their readers important questions to ask themselves.
4. Evaluate Your Day Before Sleeping
This is a simple practice that can help you a lot. Every day before sleeping, just revisit your entire day – the things you did, the people you met, the thoughts you had, and the choices you made. This is the easiest way to ensure you practice self-reflection every single day. Narrating your whole day to yourself will help you isolate the negative thoughts, unhealthy reactions, and self-limiting beliefs that you hold unconsciously. It helps if you question everything you did from a third-person lens: Why did you act the way you did? Why were you constantly thinking of the future instead of being in the present? Were you talking unkindly to yourself? On the days you don’t have time to do the writing practice, or meditate, or do your primary self-reflection activity, this small exercise can help you stay on track.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle
5. Track Your Progress
The biggest motivator for any habit is witnessing the enhancement it has given your life. I put self-reflection in my habit tracker and every day that I tick it, it is a small boost for me to return again tomorrow. Progress can also be witnessed in intangible growth. Maybe you notice that your mind is a lot lighter now since you have started self-reflection. Maybe you witness yourself outgrowing negative self-talk and being more compassionate to yourself. Maybe you achieved the goals you had set.
Whatever way you notice your progress, tracking it ensures that your motivation stays afloat. Self-reflection does get easier with time. But on difficult days, it is still hard to get to. It is easier to do something “productive” and something that drives tangible outputs. But remember that carving out this time for yourself is just as productive. It aids in improving your mental health, gives clarity to your actions, and helps you live a meaningful life.