Creating the Habit of Self-Reflection

We usually think of habits as bad things. However, a habit is only as bad as the habitual activity. Creating healthy habits can be a great way to improve your health and wellness without even thinking about it. While starting bad habits can feel so easy – usually because we do it unconsciously – actively starting good habits can seem difficult. It can also take time. Be patient and follow these steps to create a healthy habit of self-reflection.

What Is Self-Reflection?

Self-reflection is the act of thinking about our actions, thoughts, and intentions. Most of us practice self-reflection passively and when we do that, we tend to do two very unhealthy things. The first is be critical of ourselves. The second is to compare ourselves to others. Self-reflection should be about reflecting on yourself, not about comparing yourself to others. Also, while the idea of self-reflection shouldn’t be patting yourself on the back, being critical is seldom productive. You can identify things that you want to do better or bad things that you want to do less, but the idea isn’t to beat yourself up or have a pity party.

When you find something that you don’t like in your self-reflection, address it and move on.

Is Self-Reflection Good For You?

Self-reflection is only useful if you use it in useful ways. When we don’t take account of ourselves, we are more likely to rely on the accounts of other people. This leaves us vulnerable to being emotionally abused or fooled. Self-reflection also allows you to identify things that you would like to change. These can be things that you don’t do well enough that you want to work on. It can also be things that you do that you don’t like and that you would like to do less often or stop. It can also help you to identify patterns of bad behavior that make it easier to quit.

As mentioned above, the idea of self-reflection isn’t to pat yourself on the back, but it shouldn’t stop you either. If you’ve done something well or been keeping up on quitting bad habits and starting good ones, take just a moment to congratulate that.

How To Start A Habit: Have A Reason

Starting anything is easier when you have a personal reason. That reason should be something stronger than that you read an article about self-reflection online and you thought it would be a neat idea.

 

Consider this…

Do you want other people to have less influence over how you see yourself?

Do you think that you are too hard on yourself? Do you think that you are too easy on yourself?

Do you know who you are?

Do you know why you do the things you do?

Do you understand your behaviors, thoughts and feelings?

All of these can be good reasons to start a healthy new habit of self-reflection.

All of these can be good reasons to start a healthy new habit of self-reflection.

How To Start A Habit: Develop A Sequence

One of the ways that your brain forms habits is through associating actions that you often do in sequence. This is a sort of shortcut that the brain takes so that it can spend less time making decisions. It takes conscious thought at the beginning but as you internalize the sequence of actions it becomes easier.

Find something that you do fairly often – once a week at the very least, but maybe as often as every day. Maybe taking time for self-reflection can be something that you do after you get into bed, after you leave work, or before you go to your place of prayer or worship.

Ask Questions Regularly

Check in with yourself often throughout the day. How do I feel? Are my needs being met? Am I content? Am I stressed? What is going through my mind? Self-reflection is all about looking inward and assessing what is going on with you on the deepest levels.

How To Start A Habit: Associate It With Things You Enjoy

Another great way to start a good habit is to associate it with something that you already do and enjoy. When we do things that we enjoy, it often has to do with reward chemicals that are released in the brain while we do it. This can make unhealthy habits appealing, but it can also make healthy habits appealing. When we associate other things with those appealing activities, the brain connects them quicker and longs for them all the more.

Consider engaging in self-reflection while you exercise, while you’re with your family, after dinner, or while you’re going to bed. Starting a habit of self-reflection is a good way to take stock of where you are in the world, how much good you’re doing, and what you can do to be a better person. It may take some time but it’s worth that time.

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