Self-Reflection

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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.

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A quick thought on Intuition

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gutfeelingsignI have been thinking about intuition lately.  You know, that gut feeling.  I describe mine as the feeling that raises my heart-rate a little bit and is trying to tell me something.  When I ignore it, or purposefully push it aside, it quickly becomes an “icky” feeling, much like the feeling of guilt.  For me, atleast.

I have been trying to listen to my gut instinct lately, whether it be on a large or small scale.  I am trying to fine-tune this God-given skill so that I can use it for the intended purpose, which is to keep me out of danger and uncomfortable situations, or perhaps to know when Wendy’s is having a special.  Oh wait….no, no that’s not intuition.

The dictionary defines intuition as “the act or faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes; immediate cognition”.  I think that as we grow, we are taught to rationalize, and then make decisions based on our minds and our reasoning.  However, intuition is based on feeling.  I think that I have ignored my intuition and focused on reason for so long, that I need to reacquaint myself with my intuition in order to learn what the feelings mean.

It’s true that there are situations where I may feel nervous or scared.  For example, before a flight I may start to worry about the plane crashing.  I think, “What if now is the moment I make that decision to not get on the plane?  The place will be in a nose-dive and I will be thinking: Shucks.  I was sitting right there outside the Which Wich and knew this would happen.”  Or, while at the beach I feel a fear to not swim because sometimes, very rarely (but horrifically), people are bitten by sharks.  These are situations where I tell myself rationalization is ok – I have clearly begun to be irrational so I have to talk myself down.  Plus, I have a superhero complex (that’s another blog post for another time) that makes me inclined to believe that I could survive a plane crash by positioning my body in just the right way.  I also think that God would save me from a shark attack with a pack of dolphins (again…we’re going deeper into my psyche than necessary at this point).  Those are examples of anxiety.  Intuition, however, is that gnawing feeling in my gut that something bad is going to happen.  I can’t perfectly describe what doesn’t feel right, I just know that it doesn’t.

Here is a time when my intuition was trying to communicate with me and I ignored it: I was driving home from a party in college.  I was living in a new apartment in the slightly shady part of town.  It was 5am.  It was dark.  I remember pulling into the parking lot of the complex and thinking how strange it was that there was not one person outside their apartment.  There was always somebody coming or going, or outside smoking.  I got a weird feeling, but I was so tired, I ignored it, glad to be home to my bed.  I had my guard down, got out of the car, flipped the lock and shut the door.  I turned around with my head down to go to the apartment and I walked right into a man’s chest.  I was so startled that I just stood there.  He asked for money and I had $5 so I gave it to him.  I was lucky that he took the money and left.  I am lucky I had money – I never have cash on me.  I hope that if I hadn’t had cash and told him that, that he would’ve believed me.  He was clearly coming off of a high, so I don’t know how rational he would’ve been.  Let’s just leave it at that I was lucky (and that what my dad always told me is true: Nothing good happens after midnight…well, that’s mostly true).

The point – my intuition was telling me to be alert.  I actually thought, “That’s really weird that nobody is outside.”  When your intuition is trying to tell you something, listen to it.  We have the ability to sense without seeing for a reason – survival!  We are animals at our core, just trying to survive.

So, that is my thought for now.  I will continue to hone my intuitive skills and differentiate between anxiety and intuition.  It is quite interesting, really.  Try it!  And if anyone develops a sixth sense for deals at Wendy’s, let me know.