Why You Should Self-Reflect

Self-reflection is the process of looking inside of yourself and evaluating the things that you have done, and decisions that you’ve made and being able to think about what you might do differently next time or to even think about what you did well that you’re quite chuffed with and this is a very useful process for developing what we refer to as emotional intelligence. It means that rather than just kind of going through life doing your thing, you become someone who thinks about the consequences of your actions. It can be really valuable for helping you to make better choices and decisions for moving forward. However, there are times when I would hasten against using self-reflection as a strategy and I will come to why in just a moment but first let’s talk about the benefits of self-reflecting. 

It can be useful to self-reflect. If, for example, you want to perhaps rehearse making a different choice for the future, you know, if you look back on something and go ‘I didn’t necessarily handle that in the best possible way’. Then being able to think about what you might do instead next time is a really helpful way to program yourself to be able to respond or react differently next time because you can think through an alternative outcome and how you might like to behave as an alternative. The other benefit of self-reflecting is that it allows you to correct things that didn’t go so well. Let’s say that you perhaps said something to someone and you meant it in a jokey way but maybe they’ve taken it badly. If you reflect on it and look at your interaction in the part that you played then you might then think ‘Actually I didn’t handle that in the best possible way’. It allows you to go back and address the situation, and put things straight and again it’s going to strengthen your emotional muscles by facing up to those things that you might have felt a little bit awkward or embarrassed about.

The third reason why self-reflecting can be helpful for us is that when good stuff happens, if we reflect and maybe give ourselves a pat on the back for doing a really good job or just to you know spend some time with a positive memory it helps that memory to get stored at a particular level of importance for us so rather than just kind of brushing it aside and forgetting about it, that extra attention that we give to it allows it to become something that gets lodged in your mind. If in the future,  you’re having a bit of a down day you can always go back to those memories of the past.

Some young people, in particular, are very good at overthinking and would look back on a situation and notice all the worst bits about it or get fixated on certain ideas about how they’d been perceived or what other people must have thought about them and so if you are someone who is maybe a bit of a warrior or you are someone who gets a little bit tangled up in negative thinking then I would choose your moments to self-reflect wisely. Don’t get into self-reflection when you’re already in a bad state because the chances are you’re going to reflect on things more negatively.

Self-reflecting is a really useful skill if you are in a state of mind where you can be objective where you’re in either a positive or a neutral state but if you’re already thinking negatively self-reflecting might not be the right thing to do at that particular moment in time, instead do some work on your negative emotions and then reflect afterwards and you’ll probably find that as a result of the shift in your emotional state that you’re able to be much kinder to yourself as well as remaining objective about how you look back on the situation that has occurred.


By Gemma Bailey


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