So many of our habits, patterns of behavior, and pre-set programming are buried in our subconscious. They operate in a sort of “control room,” directing how we think, feel, and act. These things can be detrimental to our well-being. If we want to be in control, we need to see into the "control room," beyond the conscious mind, and change some of the programmings we no longer benefit from.
One way to access the unconscious is through self-reflection—i.e., looking into a mirror and analyzing what we see or feel regarding ourselves as objectively as possible to understand ourselves better and how we think, feel, and behave. But how do we engage in this type of deep self-reflection?
Setting the Stage for Self-Reflection
Sometimes deep self-reflection may feel like you are trying to tame a raging sea. To begin to calm the sea, start with the self-reflection process outlined below.
Begin with a short thought download.
Take about 10 minutes to write down all your worries and cares all the things stressing you out. Many times, this will be enough to help you feel better.
Next, ask yourself questions to get at the heart of your matter.
If answers are not forthcoming, then give it some time, and return to any thoughts or questions later when you are feeling curious to learn more about yourself. Let any judgments that you have fly away and focus on answering the following question so that you can — know yourself better.
How might someone else think about this?
How could I be wrong?
What else is true?
Identify The “What” of Self-Reflection
Once you feel calm and quiet, direct your focus inward and on the thoughts in your thought download. Choose a particular issue you want to change. Pull up a memory of an important incident.
What impressions arise as you focus on this issue?
What is the upside to thinking these thoughts?
How do these thoughts make you feel?
How do you want to feel?
Identify the “Why” of Self-Reflection
Now, go a layer deeper. Ask yourself: Why did you think, feel, or do these things?
These kinds of inner search-and-discovery missions through self-reflection can get gnarly, so take your time. Once you have opened the cork on this “genie’s bottle,” the work has begun, and it will most likely continue until some significant issues are better understood, if not wholly resolved.
Identify the “How” of Self-Reflection
This may be the most uncomfortable part but make a complete list of all the things you do when thinking and feeling this way.
Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
Are you yelling at the people around you?
Are you ruminating about it? Are you gossiping about it?
What else are you doing?
The longer the list, the better, so write down everything you do.
Next, ask yourself, is this who you want to be?
Is this how you want to behave?
Are you your best self?
Asking yourself these questions is necessary because often, when we come face-to-face with our behavior that doesn’t align with the character we want to exhibit, we are at our most powerful state of transforming our lives.
Identify the Results You Are Creating
What are the results that are being created by your actions? Are you finding more evidence of how someone wronged you and choosing to stay stuck instead of forgiving? Are you creating distance between yourself and someone you care about? If you do not like the results you have in your life, it is time to change.
Observe Yourself with This New Insight
Next, observe yourself living your life in the present. Try to “catch yourself” when your subconscious is in control, leading you to feel, think, and act in ways that bother you. Through self-reflection, your self-awareness will grow. Once you are aware of your inner programming, you are on the path to authenticity and greater control over your life.
Use Self-Reflection as a Tool for Change
The next step is to cultivate the desire to change behaviors that bother you. After identifying any problematic aspects of yourself, take the wheel and slowly shift your thoughts in ways that better represent how you want to think.
If you thought “that issue” was “fixed,” but it comes back, self-reflect once again to see if you missed something important. It’s not easy to change ourselves and /our behavior, and it may take several attempts to get it “right,” so keep at it each time a thought or behavior you don’t like surfaces.
Self-Reflect with Self-Compassion
Be gentle with yourself as you self-reflect. The goal is not to judge your past choices but to reflect on them, learn from them, and make whatever changes you feel are appropriate for you in the here and now. As you build new habits through self-awareness, you can become more balanced, healthy, and happy.
See you next week,
Copyright © 2021 Roanna Rhodes Life Coach, All rights reserved.