Self-Reflection

If you are like me, it is so easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day aspects of life you forget to pause, self reflect and look at the bigger picture.

We frequently forget that slowing down and taking time to think about life is extremely helpful in creating a better sense of you are, who you want to be, and how you will get there.

Reasons to Self Reflect

First, self-reflection helps to build emotional self-awareness. By taking the time to ask yourself the important questions, you will gain a better understanding of your emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and driving factors. Once you understand important aspects of yourself, you become better able to adapt to changing situations and difficult circumstances.

Second, your integrity increases when you take time to reflect on your core values. Having a clear understanding of what values you deem most important puts them at the forefront of your mind and strengthens your decision-making process.

Finally, our lives often become a cycle of doing/producing where we try to maximize productivity and minimize time spent. When we are always acting and moving from one thing to the next, we sometimes forget to stop and think. Taking time to think allows for new ideas to emerge and counters the risk of becoming stagnant. New ideas and continuous change, no matter your situation, is always necessary.

How to Self Reflect

Self-reflection requires radical candor and commitment.  You need to be prepared to be completely honest with yourself (and an accountability partner if that is the method you choose) and be committed to making changes in how you think and act.

Everyone’s ultimate goal for self-reflection will be unique to that person.  But some typical steps appear to be successful in helping each person successful when self-reflecting.

Here are several suggestions to try when starting a regimen of self-reflection.

  1. Identify several important questions to consider, but don’t try to answer them yet. Typical questions may include:
    • What are you avoiding?
    • How are you helping your coworkers and teammates?
    • How are you not helping?
    • How might you be contributing/not contributing to your least desirable work relationships?
    • How could you have been a more effective leader?
  1. Select a reflection process that matches your preferences.  Many people reflect through writing in a journal or talking with a colleague.
  2. Schedule time to reflect.  Since most leaders are driven by their calendars, input your reflection time in your calendar and commit to keeping it.
  3. Start by reflecting on small issues for a short time. If an hour of reflection seems like too much, try 10 minutes.  Your goal is to make continual progress, even if it comes in small steps.
  4. Review your list of questions (step 1) and explore them in detail. Be still, think, dream. Consider multiple perspectives. Look at the opposite of what you initially believe. Brainstorm.
  5. Ask for help. For most leaders, a lack of desire, time, experience, or skill can get in the way of reflection.  Consider working with a colleague, therapist, or coach to help you make the time.

The Bible

Lamentations 3:40 says.

                        Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the Lord!

The Bible calls us both test and examine our motives, expectations, and aspirations, and during the process to always rely on the Lord for direction.

What is missing in most advice about self-reflection is that little or no guidance is provided about the measurement against which you are reflecting.  The Bible is your source for the aspirational qualities against which you should measure.

If leadership is your weakness, look to the Bible for strong leaders.  If personal relationships are found lacking, look to the Bible for advice on personal relationships.  Advice about whatever you uncover during your self-reflection time is available in the Bible.

2 Corinthians 13:5 says.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?

The Bible is both calling each of us to practice self-reflection and to use the lessons found in Scripture as our guide in evaluating and improving our lives.

We should all start practicing self-reflection—but we need to understand that we also need something to measure our reflection against and that something is the Bible.