In this day and age of constantly available content available 24/7 on our smart phones, television, internet and written media plus the added stressors of long working hours and a busy family life it is easy to have a lot of time go by before having a chance to self reflect and look inward.
Mindfulness is big right now, with colouring books, zentangle and meditation apps as just some ways it has been recently popularised, but self-reflection is different to this. Mindfulness is about living in the moment and awareness of what is going on around you. Self reflection on the other hand is almost the complete opposite as it has you thinking back to the past and examining feelings in both the past, present and future.
Personal development is more tied to self-reflection as it is only when you really get to know yourself that positive change where you perceive it necessary is possible.
As a big fan of self reflection (as well as mindfulness) here are some fun things I do from time to time as self reflection exercises:
1. Write a Diary/Journal/Blog.
This blog often functions for me as a way to self reflect on any given topic. This one is great for people who enjoy writing and who sometimes can better understand and structure their thoughts when expressing themselves in this way. The hard thing for some people might be thinking about what to write about. Find inspiration from the world around you, question your reactions to situations in your life or read inspiring stories and then think about what it is about them that appeals to you and what about your life this inspires you to change. Your goals are also a particularly good topic and spend some time reflecting on why they are important to you
1. Use a Sentence a Day Book. This one is great for people that want a quick way of practicing self reflection every day as part of ritual and appreciate having some topics as prompts. You can either purchase and use a 1-3 or 1-5 year journal which has the questions in it already that you answer (I just got one from Kikki.K and i believe Typo also has them and probably elsewhere) or use any old notebook or even a computer word document with either your own prompts or borrow some from here. Some of them in these books might not be exactly really self reflection, but many of them are and can be really difficult to answer to require a lot of thought. The other nice thing about these journals is it gives you an opportunity to revisit your answers each year as you fill in the same page and question on the same day of the year over the 3-5 years of the book.
3. Self Hypnosis. The self hypnosis usually involves listening to sound recordings and will be focused on a particular topic such as stress less. These generally are focused on developing positive personal changes but also usually require you to reflect on your true feelings about something before dealing with them in a positive way. This method is therefore more feelings or visual (minds eye) based than words so is excellent if you are not the journalling type. I find this method particularly useful in times of stress.
4. Pray. I’m not religious but i can recognise that the act of praying is a very good opportunity for self reflection. It involves talking (even in your head) to something out there and most likely able to express your deepest feelings and thoughts that you might not feel comfortable expressing in the written form. So if you are religious you are probably doing some form of praying, but if not then I think benefit can be had for anyone doing something like this. If you don’t believe in God talk in your mind to lost loved ones, or to your inner self. You might just come to come new awareness of yourself.
5. Do a Personality Test. Whether or not you believe in personality tests like Meyers Briggs, they are an excellent opportunity for self reflection. They usually characterise your personality and this can be an opportunity to think about how that relates to what you are really like, and your strengths and weaknesses. It is ok to disagree with what the test says, the point is just to think about it.