Creating the Habit of Self-Reflection
Forming a habit of self-reflection allows us to improve ourselves as individuals on a personal and professional scale. Although creating a positive habit can be difficult, we can take steps to make the process easier.
What is Self-Reflection, and Does it Bear Fruit?
Self-reflection is the act of thinking about our actions, thoughts, intentions, motives, behaviours, attitudes, and reactions.
It allows us to identify patterns we would like to change or improve, thus, giving us a direction in life instead of being stuck with the way things are.
However, it should not consist of us being overly critical of ourselves and comparing ourselves to others. T. Roosevelt said it best, “comparison is the thief of joy.”
Self-reflecting can be done from a wider point of view, which helps us explore where we are, where we are heading in life and whether we should make a change. Or from a narrower point of view that allows us to examine our behaviours in particular situations so we can understand and improve them. These can be things we do not do enough and want to work on, something we repeat but do not like about ourselves or our life, or patterns of bad behaviour.
Reflection is NOT about beating ourselves for things we are not proud of. Instead, it is about addressing what we found and did not like in our self-observation, making a change and moving on.
The idea of self-reflection is not to praise ourselves, but it should not stop us either. If we have done something right, such as ending a bad habit or starting a good one, we shall take a moment to congratulate ourselves.
- How to Build a Habit (of Self-reflection): Have a Reason
Forming a positive habit of self-reflection requires finding a personal reason or motive. Let’s consider these helpful questions:
- Do we want others to have less influence over how we see ourselves?
- Do we think that we are too hard on ourselves? Or do we feel that we are too easy on ourselves?
- Do we know who we are?
- Do we know why we do the things we do?
- Do we understand our behaviours, thoughts, and feelings?
These questions can be valuable reasons to start a new healthy habit of self-reflection.
- How to Build a Habit (of Self-reflection): Develop a Sequence
Adding self-reflection to our daily or weekly routine and always doing it in the same order with other activities, for example, before going to bed, after dinner, after leaving work or before going to a place of prayer, will transform it into a habit. This is because one of the ways our brain forms habits is through associating actions that we often do in a sequence.
- How to Build a Habit (of Self-reflection): Associate It with Enjoyable Things
Linking a new goal, such as self-reflection, with something we already do and enjoy is a useful way for it to become a habit. This could include engaging in self-reflection while exercising, going for a walk or during other activities we love.
Ask Questions Regularly
Lastly, it is vital to check in with ourselves throughout the day by asking questions like: How are we feeling? Are our needs being met, and are we content? What is going through our minds? Are we experiencing stress?
Self-reflection is all about looking within and understanding what is happening with us on the deepest levels.
Building a habit of self-reflection is a fantastic way to review where we are in the world, how much good we are doing, and what we can do to become better people. It will not happen overnight and will not be easy at first, but it will be worth it.
At Citizen, we have a variety of counsellors and coaches who can help with adopting self-reflection and understanding behaviour patterns.
Edited by: Eliška Petříková