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The Value of Self-Reflection: How To Practice Thought Meditation

September 23, 2017

 

For the trained mind, self-reflection is a commonality that passes along as you're finishing up your morning cup of coffee. For the untrained mind, self-reflection is as troublesome as the stresses ensued by performing the dreaded task.

 

Self-reflection ultimately glosses over awareness of deeper issues, personality attributes, and the measures in which you live your life. Reflecting is challenging to master, as it is prone to bouts of negativity and faulty characteristics of identity.

 

The Harvard Business Review breaks down the major components that you help you take the steps towards self-reflection:

  • Identifying some important questions.

  • Selecting a reflection process that matches your preferences.

  • Scheduling time.

  • Starting small.

  • Doing it.

The most useful reflection involves the conscious consideration and analysis of beliefs and actions for the purpose of learning. Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning. This “meaning” becomes learning, which can then inform future mindsets and actions. For leaders, this “meaning making” is crucial to their ongoing growth and development.

 

Lo and behold: The HBR also informs us that those of us in charge, do not, in fact, like to take the time to self-reflect. While the reasons for this vary amongst individual, the consensus seems to be that though we fallible humans are flawed by nature, we simply do not like to take responsibility for our flaws.

 

Well, that makes complete sense, doesn't it? No one likes to say they’re wrong, or face the fact that they messed up. But luckily, just as any feat, self-reflection can be practiced, perfected and implemented to enrich your daily life, work, and productivity count.

 

Reflect upon your day

 

Force this time into your day-to-day routine. Taking even 10 minutes to think back on your day, week, month- What worked for you, what didn't work for you, your surroundings, your personality, your leadership skills- will provide you personal, constructive feedback.

 

A negative mindset, denial, and insecurities, can hold back even the most willing. Emotions will arise during this time, can and will be addressed later on. As you reflect, your only job is to sit and think. You will take this time to explore the sensations of your body and mind, question the motives behind them, and make connections. It's recommended to practice this ritual at least 10 minutes out of the day, but start with a time you feel comfortable.

 

Stay aware of the questions you're asking yourself

 

Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his famous essay Self-Reliance in 1841, a powerful account focused on the recurring theme of accountable individuality. Emerson's collection of thoughts on self and humanity, essentially became a 20 page essay.

 

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

-Emerson, "Self Reliance"

 

Regardless of how Self-Reliance was received, (many accounts have slammed Emerson's essay as negligible, claiming it lacks awareness on the co-dependence of 'Individuality' and 'Society') Emerson's ability to transition his mesh of thoughts into an aggregation of human mannerisms is profound in and of itself. The takeaway here is that your thoughts are an extremely powerful tool. Use them wisely and stay conscious of the questions you're asking yourself.

 

"Why am I not seeing success?" is a failing question, according to personal development and business coach, Myrko Thum. The use of the word, "Why" defeats the genuine purpose of the clause. Why will bring about answers for "why", but not for "how." In other words, asking why will not help you move forward, but leave you with information that may or may not be valuable. What you want to know here is the how. "How can I become successful?" Should give you the answers you seek.

 

Accept your faults

 

Perhaps the most difficult part of this is accepting all angles of introspection, especially shortcomings. The largest reason for lack of development during this exercise is the unwillingness of accepting personal faults. Honesty with yourself can bring upon insecurities and setbacks. Whether the fault was directly or indirectly yours, internal or external, small or large, this is when you self-validate. Self-validation is accepting your own internal experience, your thoughts and feelings. Remember to ask the questions you want the answers to- nothing more or less. Asking yourself too much will tangle the mind. Asking yourself less will leave you feeling unfulfilled.

 

'Just do it!'

 

The final step is to do. When you do, you lead yourself into a happier life. You've analyzed the flaws, you've examined the angles, the final step of this journey is to take everything you learned and apply it to you. At the end of each session, using a subjective mind, map out how you will strengthen your weaknesses, cool it on the confidence or modify changes.

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