I learned self-reflection during Sunday School as a pre-teen. I don’t remember exactly how, but I do know that the concept was introduced to me there. I think it was when our teacher told us that when we pray, we should include prayers of thanks and praise and not just ask God for a bunch of things. Aha! Be less self-centred. Think of things in a new context.
I know it doesn’t seem to relate exactly to self-reflection, but for me, this was the beginning of learning to really analyze my own thoughts and actions and to step outside of myself.
Self-reflection has come in very handy for me in marriage. When I find that I am overwhelmed with anger or frustration and I am blaming my husband for it, I try to calm down and realize what it is about me that is causing me to have these emotions (and my usually loud, obnoxious reactions). It is almost never as easy as blaming my husband; it usually comes down to something bigger that’s bothering me and I am taking it out on him, or it’s stemming from something I don’t like about myself and it’s easier to blame my husband than face the fact that I could be my own problem.
If you haven’t self-reflected, you need to. I do most of my thinking at night as I settle into bed. Sometimes I bounce things off of my groggy husband and he will give me validation and honesty. When I realize that there is something about myself that I need to change, I make a plan on how to change and work hard to put it into action. For example, there was a time where I harped about someone for a few weeks and it seemed like the person was simply under my skin and too in my face. However, upon further inspection of the situation, I realized that I was in a funk, revelling in negativity, and that the person was in my space because they were trying to be helpful and kind. When I accepted that I was the problem, not the other person, it made it easier for me to enjoy the person being in my space and to get rid of the cloud of negative-thinking that has been following me.
It is imperative that everyone self-reflects. I’m sure you have come across someone in your life that you feel just cannot see the real situation. They are blaming you for their problem, and that is wrong. You know it, I know it, and anyone outside of the situation can see it. The only way for the person to see that they are, in fact, the problem (not the person to whom they are transferring) is for that person to self-reflect. The first step is admitting you have been wrong to yourself, then you can go about righting those wrongs for others.
Remember: we can’t control other people, we can only control ourselves. Do yourself a favour and make self-reflection a regular activity in your day. You will feel better and you will improve all of your relationships. If you learn this now, you will be so far ahead of the game as you get older.