Self-Reflection: Dare to be the Ideal You!

We are half way through another year… Does it feel like it has flown by? Are you wondering where the time has gone?

Time itself, doesn’t slow down.

However, we must allow ourselves to:

  • reduce the rush
  • slow down in life
  • and, get to know ourselves better

or, we can become emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally frazzled.

To most, it feels like our society is fixated on a “go, go, go” mentality; a fast-paced environment that leaves little time for rest and introspection / self-reflection.

What is Self-Reflection?

Self-Reflection is:

  • a practical way to use a few minutes a day to work on yourself – even when busy
  • asking yourself thought-provoking questions to help develop a deeper level of understanding yourself
  • allows you to absorb, process and organize the information you take in all the time
  • emphasizes balance and mindfulness (active, open attention on the present), allowing you to have a clearer picture of your true desires; who you really are
  • remove inner roadblocks and release emotional tension and stress
  • promotes positive change, self-awareness
  • it allows you to become more proactive, than reactive

iceberg You often do not have a clue why you are doing a certain thing and why you feel the way you feel.  The subconscious mind, which makes up 90% of your brain function, is on autopilot and can trigger certain behaviors in certain situations.  These triggered behaviors don’t necessarily lead to the desired outcome.

Self-Reflection helps with that!

Through self-reflection, you can:

  • change how you see yourself
  • how you feel about certain situations
  • how you act

“Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”                                            – Eleanor Roosevelt

The Benefits of Self-Reflection include:

  1. Keeping you focused on the bigger picture!
    • It is important to have a clear vision of where you see yourself in the future – write it down if you have to or create a vision board, to continuously remind yourself of what you intend to accomplish!
    • By keeping an overall goal in mind, your daily tasks become more meaningful and less frustrating
  2. Allowing you to define your own happiness!
    • Recognize the positive events and activities in your life, and apply these to future endeavors and goals
    • Ask yourself: When am I most happy? What am I most proud of and why? Who do I most enjoy spending time with?
  3. Preventing you from worrying about things out of your control!
    • Self-reflection allows you to direct your energy toward self-improvement, rather than trying to improve others, and change things you have no control over
    • Why worry about traffic jams, or those with odd opinions, when you can be improving yourself?
  4. Noticing negative patterns in your life!
    • Self-reflection enables you recognize negative patterns; understand how and why they have a damaging effect on your emotions; allow you to consider alternative approaches and alleviate the stressors.
    • ie: toxic relationship or work environment
  5. Increasing self-awareness for improved results!
    • With increased self-awareness, you are more likely to trust your gut when making decisions, and you will feel more confident in your choices!
    • You will have the courage to face fears and challenges, because you are confident in who you are!
    • You will be more aware of who YOU are, and what YOU truly want in life!

Other benefits include: developing better critical thinking skills, communication skills, social awareness, empathy, tolerance, creativity, emotional awareness, …

What is an immediate, short-term goal that you have right now?

Do you have a goal to spend more time with family, exercise more, start a new hobby (painting, ping pong, golf, paddle boarding, …)?

  • these goals could be unrealized (not met) because of lack of self-awareness
  • you need to know how to direct your behavior, in order to know how to pursue your goal
  • self-reflection helps you make progress on the goals that will improve the quality of your life

Self-Reflection Tools, Activities and Methods:

  1. Self-Reflective Journaling:

Self-reflective journaling is not about jotting down your days’ activities, but rather:

  • your thoughts, your perspective, your feelings, your actions, the feedback from your environment throughout the day
  • It is about becoming aware of your actions and behaviors, and the results of those actions and behaviors.
  • You will think about everything that happened throughout your day, and WRITE down (journal): why it happened, how you felt, why did you feel that way, how is that affiliated to your beliefs and values, …

The purpose of self-reflective journaling is:

  • to get things out of your head and clear your mind, allowing you to relax
  • allow you gain insights you may otherwise miss
  • useful problem-solving tool

Three ways to keep your self-reflective journal:

  1. Notebook – the best! (Your hand is connected directly to your brain and handwriting with no blinking lights, popups, distractions … is the best way to go!)
  2. App – on tablet, phone, laptop, etc (notepad or journaling software, even something as simple as Evernote)
  3. Private Blog – not the safest option

Some journal prompts to get you started.

2) Empathy Map

empathy mapAn Empathy Map helps you:

  • identify your needs
  • identify the disconnections between:
    • what you say
    • what you do
  • practice identification of your feelings/thoughts/attitudes
  • analyse yourself from a 3rd person perspective

Empathy Map activity 

3) Six Thinking Hats

Edward de Bono’s, The Six Thinking Hats, is a simple, effective method that helps to increase productivity, focus and mindfulness.   The main idea is that by “mentally” wearing and switching “hats”, you can easily focus and redirect thoughts, a meeting or a conversation. sixhats-1

This process allows you to look at situations and yourself from a different perspective.  It can also help you when practicing self-reflection by providing new insight.  It is also quite fun!

Are you going to wear a blue, white, yellow, black, red or green hat?

The Six Thinking Hats activity

4) Why? Why? Why?

Did you know that asking yourself “why” repeatedly, helps you get to the root of a problem by encouraging analytical flow?

Try it:

  • think of a situation: (I didn’t get the promotion, I rocked that presentation today, that hatrick I scored was unexpected, I failed the exam,…); OR a certain feeling: (I was distracted all day, I am in a bad mood, I am unusually upbeat today,…)
  • once you have a situation or feeling in mind, start asking yourself WHY
  • do it 5 or 10 times
  • you will gain new insight into yourself
    • ie: I was distracted all day
    • Why was I distracted all day?
      • maybe I was thinking about the kids activities tonight and the upcoming vacation and having to get immunizations and what to do if the dog gets sick again while we are gone
    • Why was I thinking about the kids activities tonight?
      • I may need to get someone to carpool Sally so I can pick up Joe…
      • Why? because there isn’t enough time between the two
      • (take steps to arrange this… why be distracted all day?)
    • Why was I thinking about the upcoming vacation?
      • I should be making packing lists and determing what we will be doing each day
      • Why? to ensure we have appropriate clothing for weather and in case we need to buy passes in advance
      • (set aside some time in your schedule to do this… avoid future distraction)
    • Why was I thinking about immunizations?
      • these need to be scheduled
      • (schedule them! avoid worrying about it any longer)
    • Why was I thinking about if the dog gets sick again?
      • I need a plan in place, or decide I can’t control this
      • Why? because it is causing me stress and really is out of my control
      • (decide to have a back up plan for the dog or let it go)

Another Why? Why? Why? exercise

5) Meditation

One of the best ways to connect with yourself, and observe your thoughts is the method of self-reflection, meditation.

meditation

Some great apps when first trying to discipline your mind with meditation are:

Headspace with Andy Puddicombe

Deepak Chopra Meditation Experience

Calm

6) Life Fulfilment Chart

This chart is a visual representation of 10 key areas of your life.  It allows you to self-reflect and determine how fulfilled or satisfied you are currently in each of the areas.  You will assess each area on a scale of 1-10. Then highlight certain areas in red and others in green, and ask yourself “why” for all 10 areas of life.

Life Fulfilment Chart

self reflection

Self-reflection can change the course of your life simply by better understanding who you are, and what you are.  It is all about YOU: your whys, your desires and what you want in life.

Self-reflection is about understanding, tolerance of self, increasing your capacity of love for yourself and others, becoming more aware, and noticing things about yourself and your past that may be contributing to current life patterns and emotional states – positive or negative.

Take time to self-reflect.  Dare to be the ideal you!

Krista


Stages of Grief or #digitalgrieving?

grief-is-not-linear

Experiencing the unthinkable.

sadness-photo-griefThe sudden loss of a loved one.

A child. A spouse, partner. A family member, friend, student, teacher, mentor, co-worker, neighbour,

Out of our control. Disorientating. Shattering. Debilitating. Overwhelming. Confusing. Frightening.grief-is-as-individual-as-a-snowflake

Something so gut-wrenching. Life-changing…and without our permission.  We are unable to regain our balance, for we react to this loss with such intensity.

This is natural. Our body is in a state of emergency.

Do we all react to this state of emergency the same? No. Some of us may become very able, operating at a high level of efficiency.  Others may become detached, and appear numb to the circumstances surrounding them.  While others may cry and fall to pieces. But we do all react.

Think about if you cut your finger quite badly. It will bleed, the wound will require immediate attention as it is likely an emergency. Do we all react the same in this situation? No.  Some of us will be perfectly calm, some will cry, scream, have a panic attack, and some of us may even pass out at the sight of the blood. We will all react differently, but we still need to treat the cut. 

What is a “normal” reaction to the loss of a loved one, during the initial days, weeks months?

  • spontaneous emotion
  • temporarily blocking the long-term implications of the loss
  • seeing the lost one
  • confusion and disorientation restlessness
  • irrational fear
  • forgetting the lost one is gone
  • disbelief
  • anger and resentment
  • feelings of guilt and blame
  • physical disturbances
  • too busy to mourn
  • obsession with memories
  • unexplainable experiences
  • and more…

“Normal” is a wide range of behaviours or reactions.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed the Stages of Grief that describes the series of emotions we tend to follow as survivors of a loved one’s death.  These stages help us to identify what we may feel as we progress through the grief process, but the process may not always be as straightforward as this.

 

  1. Denial/Shock     “No, not me!”
  2. Anger/ Flood of feelings     “Why me?”
  3. Bargaining     “Yes me…But at least…”
  4. Depression     “Oh no, it is me.”
  5. Acceptance     “So be it.”

Image result for kubler ross stages of grief

Back to your cut finger for a moment.

You have made it through the first phase: you bled, reacted (your way: calmly, passed out, cried, screamed or perhaps some other way), and had it treated.

Now the skin will typically seal itself within 48 hours (or more if stitches were required).  Once it is initially sealed, the body begins to develop a scar by developing scar tissue, filling in the area between the wounds edges. This can take months or years.  

This healing process has three stages:

  1. Inflammatory  – “the angry red stage”  (body produces antibodies to fight off infections, scab forms)
  2. Rebuilding – this can take months and there may be setbacks, but the wounded skin will get stronger
  3. Maturation – It can take years for scars to fully heal.  As time goes on, they will continue to slowly fade.  There are products that can be used to help fade the scars more quickly.  Once improvemment is no longer seen, ithe products can be discontinued.

Note: Irregular Healing – not all scars heal well or the same.

Now, what do cutting your finger and losing a loved one have in common you ask?

Let’s compare the Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief and the Healing Process:

Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief
Healing Process for Injury
Commonalities
1)      Denial/Shock
1st Phase: bleed, react, treat
Sudden tragedy, overwhelming, frightening, “State of Emergency”
2)      Anger/Flood of Feelings
1)      Inflammatory “angry red stage”
Spontaneous emotion, impatience, irritability, resentment, mad, asking “Why me?”
3)      Bargaining
2)      Rebuilding
Takes time, many months and there may be setbacks, but strength will come
4)      Depression
5)      Acceptance
3)      Maturation
It can take years for complete healing. Scar products/grief support services can be used to help guide this process.
Not all healing is follows the same path at the same time*
Not all scars heal well or the same*
NOT ALL HEALING IS THE SAME*

grief-chart2

Image result for Pictures About Grief

Healing… whether it be from an injury, or from tragedy or loss of a loved one by way of the grief process, follows a similar pattern. No matter what “your” process is, even though it will be different from others’, it is natural and it is normal.  Grief looks different in everyone, and to everyone. Grief is a very individual process.  The only trait that is common to all, just like in the healing of a wound, is: it takes time. 

Let me explain why I feel so compelled to discuss grief today.

Our town of 14,000 people (and surrounding areas), has experienced many tragic deaths in the past few years.

My heart is breaking for the parents, siblings, families, friends, the youth, the teaching and coaching staff, and the communities as a whole, that are repeatedly impacted by the sudden deaths of youth. There have also been many parents of children in our community lost, many grandparents, incredible contributors to our community and more.

You will not overcome the loss of a loved one.  You will learn to live without your loved one.
You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you suffered.
You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to be the same.
                                                                                                                                                             –  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I am beginning to question, in particular:

How much can our youth handle? How much loss in a community is too much loss? What is the best way to address these losses?  Are we doing enough?

Do youth truly understand loss and grief?

Is social media enough of an outlet for them to express their grief?  education and internet concept - students looking at their phone

Is the online community creating an ability for everyone to stake a claim in your loved one’s death through sappy posts that misrepresent who she/he was?

Is social media rationalizing death but obscuring the “reality of loss”?

Does it create an impulsive need to ascribe meaning to senseless tragedy at a safe distance, rather than be deeply human?

Does it allow us to avoid the uncomfortable physical interactions (that we have always wanted to avoid… be honest), and avoid addressing death in person, with the bereaved?  Or because we have addressed it on social media, do we now feel more comfortable addressing it in person, since it is not the first time?

Is social media creating a lack of genuine empathy and connection, or is it making us more aware and bringing us closer together?

So many questions.  So many different answers based on both opinion and research.

“Digital grieving”

Does it provide a beneficial podium for mourners to speak of their loss?

                             ORImage result for Social Media Apps

  • Does it create a pressure to speak of grief and loss, (especially for teenagers)?
  • Does it demand tending to your ‘followers’ needs, rather than your own?  Providing them with updates and inspirational messages about your recently lost loved one?
  • Does it create a strain between navigating your personal grief and your ‘followers’ or ‘friendships’?
  • Do you feel forced to reflect too much at a time that you don’t have the capacity or energy to manage it?

OR

  • Do you feel it serves as a form of group therapy to handle difficult issues such as death?
  • Does having your voice heard online make you feel supported, as though others have compassion and empathy for you, when they ‘like’ your post?
  • Does seeing the multitude of photos, videos and funny and inspiring stories of your loved one, posted by others, in different contexts, offer you comfort?
  • Do you feel that hashtags (#) that promote positive messages about your loved one help with the healing, and provide teachable moments to teens?
  • Do you believe that social media allows those that did not know your loved one very well , really get to know them now and understand your loss more deeply?

I have left you with a lot of unanswered questions.  Really, only you know these answers. There has been research, but the experts support both the benefits and drawbacks of the use of social media when grieving the loss of a loved one. Since the grieving process is as unique as we are, for each individual, the answers to these questions will be as well.

What we do know is this:

  1. Loss of a loved one causes our body to go into a ‘state of emergency’, and none of us will experience this reaction the same way.  This is normal and natural.
  2. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’, Stages of Grief describe the series of emotions we tend to follow as survivors of a loved one’s death and help us to identify what we may feel as we progress through the grief process.
  3. The Stages of Grief are comparable to the Healing Process when we suffer from a badly cut finger. Healing is healing, it takes time and is different for everyone, but follows similar phases. This is natural and normal.
  4. Youth and Grief… I have posed many questions.  What are your thoughts?
  5. Digital Grieving… Since the grieving process is an individual process, different for each of us, researchers are divided on their thoughts as to whether or not the use of social media is beneficial in the grief process or not.  What are your feelings on this?

With compassion and empathy,

Krista

 

Image result for look for me in rainbows poem
Bereavement Support Groups, 2016, Marina Oppenheimer LMHC
Grief and Loss Support Group Facilitator’s Manual, 2015, Susan Hansen {Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Stages of Grief}
Seven Choices: Finding Daylight After Loss Shatters Your World, 2003, Elizabeth Harper Neeld, PhD