Busy people do not have time to “self-reflect,” I often hear.
Getting perspective is only useful if it makes us (a) more effective; (b) helps us see ourselves and/or our goals more clearly; and (c) brings joy. These three things are components of what I would suggest equate to something being “useful.”
Most of us whose day starts at sunrise, like mine, it is true, there is not much time for all of our responsibilities.
What is “self-reflection”?
For me, it is getting a perspective of myself from some distance. When we are stressed, mired in something, struggling emotionally or even having a hard time seeing a way out in a work, relationship or even athletic situation (ie. martial arts), having someone who we trust, who is watching us, tell us what they see – ie mirroring – and suggest some openings, a trail, a path, a way thru, we can get to the otherwise. Self- reflecting is doing this practice for ourselves. It is not something we can always do immediately and in some situations, we cannot get the perspective. But is it an objectivity we can develop.
Recently I listened to the Tim Ferris Podcast featuring Krista Tippett and I challenge you – don’t you have ten (10) minutes a day for meaningful self-reflection?
- Practice is only meaningful if you repeat it often. Krista carves out ten minutes while her water is boiling in the morning. You might chose to pick an app like Calm to start your own meditation practice. Regardless of what “practice” you pick, I cannot stress enough that you actually schedule it and do it at least three times a week. Otherwise you will have simply not enough experience to determine whether or not it is helpful.
- Merely spiritual practice may not be useful. Like Krista, I like physical activities combined with “mental” activities so that my whole self feels better. But merely physical activities are not that helpful either because they do not provide much opportunity for self-reflection.
- Fear and doubt. All of the thoughts that come up during meditation – including all the ‘gotta dos’, worries, things you should have done before you started your “pratice” and things you must do when your practice ends should simply be noted. Simply note them and most importantly begin to notice how you react do different types of thoughts that come into your mind.
- Feel. So much of self-work involves taking note of external things you need to do to improve. With self-reflection, I think it important merely to note how you feel at various times: before you start, while you are “self-reflecting,” and after. We may not remember what someone said or even what all of the factual details of a movie, book, interaction are, but we more often than not remember how they made us feel. Take note of how you feel and really explore the layers.
- Body scanning. One of the easiest ways to start self-reflecting is to do a body scan meditation. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Focus on the top of your head. Identify all of the “feelings” that are happing there. Do down to your ears, and then your forehead, and so on, all the way down to your toes. Just note the feelings, tingling or even if there is no feeling you sense at all. Don’t judge, just note it like youre a note taker. This exercise can help get you to see what is happening at every few inches of yourself.
- Sitting next to yourself. My systema guru/teacher suggested that he often pretends to “sit next to himself,” and tell himself what he sees. If he has the presence of mind to do that, even in the most tough time he might be having, he can instantly (a) tell himself to chill out; (b) catch himself before he does or says something or even misses something right there in front of him; (c) bring him some humor. When I do this, I often see myself all up in a bunch and it is funny catching myself before I lose my cool. In the end, it helps pick a better path.
Are you a natural at self-reflection?
Do you practice?
What are some ways that you get some perspective?
What did you learn when you go that perspective? Did you feel like you had a new tool that you could bring forward with you and apply in other situations?
Email me some of your tricks when it comes to your “self-reflection” practice.