Turning your monocular lens inward isn’t the easiest thing to do. Very few people have the bravery to see themselves for all their faults. Fewer still are able to see themselves in all their true glory – because sometimes our faults, whether we guise them as benign or rationalise their purpose, are easier to see. We have outside help for that, of course. We can even have imaginary outside help filling our brains with ‘mush’ about how people ‘see’ us. Total strangers who are likely involved in their own self-reflections, we can hope, suddenly have the right to make you feel more or less worthy. But regardless of other influences, the true meaning of ‘finding yourself’ in self-reflection can affect how you see the world – and how the world sees you.
To quote Oscar Wilde, “Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.” The concept of self-reflection is simply finding those precious things and realising them to be true. Introspection is in every conscious human’s nature. It is the food for philosophy and the belief of higher consciousness. It has been around since the dawn of man – whether that means Adam and Eve or Cro-Magnon – and spans every culture. It has been written about and discussed for thousands of years. The act of finding our human ‘soul’ is the art of self-reflection.
There are many ways to practice self-reflection on a less than idle scale. Many people meditate, choosing calm environments where they can focus on themselves without interruption. This can be a good time to pose questions to ourselves. For effective self-reflection to take place, it is important not to be too hard on ourselves, which can be achieved through inquisitive rather than accusing questions. For example, phrase questions as “How can I…?” rather than “Why don’t I…?”
Next, we have to commit to being completely honest with ourselves; and admit the good and the bad things we like or dislike about ourselves. By committing, I mean writing down. Few things bring honesty to light better than pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Then, you can find solutions to things you wish to change or ways to amplify the things you like. Self-reflection does not have to be about ‘correcting’ oneself. It is, however, the best way to ‘knowing’ yourself.
Self-awareness is the result of self-reflection. It is not a tool to be used once, and then stuffed away in the back of a drawer until you stumble across it when looking for something else. As people change, so does their awareness of themselves and others. Practising self-reflection regularly can keep you aware of how your own thoughts and feelings are growing over time.
Being self-aware is an intrinsic part of making decisions in your life that will make you happy. It is a vital part of establishing good, healthy relationships throughout your entire life, whether those relationships are romantic, familial, or otherwise. It cultivates empathy, which is crucial to every human interaction. Self-reflection for self-awareness can even make the world a better place for others as empathy tends to breed kindness, and we all know there can always be more kindness in the world.