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


Aligning Your Goals and Values

Values word

Goals, behaviours, values. Have you ever wondered how to link these things together so that what you say and what you do are in alignment?

If these things are out of alignment it’s likely obvious to you (or maybe not). As discussed in one of our recent blogs, goals and values tie in to Resilience. When our behaviour towards our goals aligns with our values, then bouncing back from life’s setbacks feels easier and more natural for us.

Let’s see how all of these things important concepts are linked….

Values

Values are like a built-in GPS that guides us in the direction of what truly matters. Values help guide daily actions and decisions. It’s a chosen life path with regard to relationships, personal growth, leisure, etc. For example, a value could be a love for travelling, or being a good mother or father.

A value is something that is meaningful to you, regardless of what’s meaningful to friends and family. It’s individual; however, many of our values tend to align with social values. One example of this alignment is kindness. One of your guiding values may be kindness, but we all know that not everyone finds kindness as one of their guiding values. That’s unfortunate (more on the importance of kindness in a future blog…stay tuned!).

So what if it feels like things are getting in the way of living your values? You’ll need to identify and overcome those things that get in the way. This is an important step, otherwise it may feel like there is constant internal conflict.

Even minor adjustments in behaviors can help steer us towards our overarching values. For example, if one of your values relates to health and wellness yet you continue to eat badly and get little if any exercise, then an internal conflict will likely surface. A minor adjustment will be required (i.e. a little more sleep or exercise).

Goals

g67599oalValues are your guiding direction, whereas goals are the achievements you set along the way towards the values. For example, if one of your values relates to travel, you could make a goal to go to Australia or the Bahamas – sounds good to me! One behaviour towards this goal may relate to how you spend money. Is it being spent in pursuit of the goal or is it being spent frivolously?

Another example is having a value related to life-long learning. A goal may be to finish a course, or pursue a certificate or degree. Ultimately, goals are informed by our values.

Stress is an important piece that weighs in on living our values. Part of being and living consistent with ones values is to clarify your values, be firmly aware of what they are, know which behaviors enable you to live consistent with these values, and then staying committed to them – despite experiencing stress and unwanted thoughts or experiences. These are the things that will take us off-course or out of alignment and cause us to live inconsistent with our values. For more info on this check out our blog on Changing Your Reaction to Stressful Thoughts.

It’s important to perform periodic check-ins to ensure our behaviours are consistent with our goals and values. If these are out of alignment then it’s time to sit back and re-think and re-adjust. Then commit to trying again. If you need to re-align again that’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Keep at it until your goals and behaviours align again with your values.

Australian psychologist Russ Harris said this about commitment:

Commitment isn’t about being perfect, always following through, or never going astray. Commitment means that when you inevitably stumble or get off track, you pick yourself up, find your bearings, and carry on in the most meaningful direction possible.

Living a life where your goals, behaviours, and values are in alignment is an important step to living your bestlife!

-Kevin


Are you Resilient?

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If you lost everything tomorrow would you be able to bounce back? Do you have the skills or talent, the strength or determination to turn failure into success? In spite of obstacles and setbacks, are you willing to keep going…to keep doing…to not give up? All of this relates to resilience.

Let’s start with this example – why is it that a child who grows up in an extremely adverse circumstance may end up doing well in life, whereas a child who grows up in a well-to-do family may end up doing so poorly in life?

It comes down to the fact that there are two basic elements to resilience – surviving and thriving in life. So what does this mean exactly? Another way to consider resilience is that it’s the ability to survive, or the ability to bounce back in life from tough situations. And then, thriving is about the ability to do what matters most in life, and optimizing well-being.

Fall seven times, stand up eight – Japanese Proverb

So where does resilience come from? Is it genetic? Well, here’s some great news – resilience can be acquired! Anne Masten from the University of Minnesota is one of the foremost experts in resilience and her research has shown that resilience can actually be acquired. Acquiring resilience happens by having a general awareness of resilience, engaging in intentional practices, being open to learning, and applying and integrating good lifestyle habits and routines.

Here are six ways you can practice resilience and in essence get the most out of life…

  1. Practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness includes actions such as meditation, mindful breathing, and bringing your awareness to the present moment. These things can help you achieve mental clarity and lower life stressors. One study on the link between mindfulness and resilience in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences found that “Mindful people … can better cope with difficult thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down.” Pausing and observing the mind may help us get un-stuck in our story (thoughts) and as a result empower us to move forward.
  2. Ensuring your goals are in line with your overall values (more on this important concept in a future blog…stay tuned!).
  3. Managing negative emotions. Negative emotions narrow attention and behaviour. While emotions are generally a positive thing (some anxiety, anger, happiness is good); emotions can become overly negative when they start to impair – panic, violence, and mania for example. This is where rational and logical thinking get tossed out the window.
  4. imagesHJKZCJWOCultivating positive emotions. This is all about paying attention to positive emotions such as joy, serenity, hope, love, etc. Why is this important? First of all, this is essential to building resilience. Also, cultivating positive emotions can help to undo the after-effects of negative emotions. Positive emotions tend to broaden attention and behaviour. Because paying more attention to positive emotions helps you to bounce back from adversity, helps you cope better with stressful situations, and generally creates a more satisfying life. Choosing to pay attention to the positive relates to searching for the silver lining in things, and choosing to see the positive in others. Practicing gratitude is a part of cultivating positive emotions as well. For more information on gratitude, see one of our several gratitude posts.
  5. Meaningful relationships. This includes social connectedness, social support, mentorship, doing good for others, and including positive role models in your life. Regarding mentorship, the relationship includes the mentor – which is someone who can provide knowledge and wisdom on various things, and the mentee which is someone who is seeking to grow.
  6. Therapeutic lifestyle choices (TLC’s). TLC’s combine to optimize physical and mental well-being. What are the three biggest TLC’s?…exercise, nutrition, and sleep. Yes, that’s it. Getting some adequate exercise, paying attention to what you eat (you are what you eat), and for adults – getting approximately 7-9 hours of sleep every night. When it comes to nutrition, I’m not suggesting that you never eat ice cream or pizza again. Moderation is key. Other TLC’s include getting out in nature (or anything else that calms the mind), and scheduling time for relaxation (e.g. deep breathing, listening to music, gardening, etc).

The more difficulties and obstacles you face and overcome or conquer, the more resiliency you will naturally develop. Generally, resilient people are able to welcome change and difficulty as an opportunity for self-reflection, learning, and growing.

So go ahead and practice the six aspects above. See if you can work your way to bouncing back from life setbacks or adversity to RESILIENCE! Good luck and let us know how it goes!

-Kevin