Day-to-day living can be hectic at times.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.
I’m pretty good at setting reasonable goals and checklists for myself. But with the crazy world we’re living in, it’s hard NOT to get a little overwhelmed.
That’s when I turn to writing. Journaling, creating checklists, goal-setting, self-reflection – it’s all a part of my daily living. It’s what I’ve used to move through each week, and I think it’s been more necessary than ever these past two years.
When most people think of journaling, they tend to lump together all kinds of personal writing. Ever kept a diary? Have a journal beside your bed? Use reflection techniques to work out problems? You’ve probably referred to them all as journaling.
Yet there are subtle differences between them all.
Diary – keeping a running account of specific events or experiences you live through each day.
Journaling – recording specific events and experiences along with your emotions and feelings that go along with each. It’s how day-to-day living impacts your life.
Reflection – this is a process of moving back through past events or experiences and looking cumulatively at how they’ve impacted your growth. Use self-reflection to learn and grow, changing into someone better suited for who you wish to become.
Journaling is required for reflection. The more thorough I am with my journaling, the deeper I can go with self-reflection. It allows me to truly look at where I’ve been, and use it to determine where I’m going to.
Why self-reflection is important at midlife
A lot of people (me included) describe midlife as a time of looking back at the first few decades of adulthood, and using thoughts and introspection to help pilot you forward to what’s next in your life.
Unfortunately, it’s also a time when a lot of people get stuck.
It’s looking into a mirror, and not being completely satisfied with the person staring back at you. This isn’t about the fine lines and crow’s feet. This is more about who you are, who you’ve become. The inner qualities and traits that don’t show through when you peer into a mirror.
It’s about looking at happiness, contentment, passion, and actions, and determining what needs to change.
Self-reflection is absolutely required work to be our best version.
That person doesn’t just “show” up. Without work, you’ll never find her. (That’s why all the money in the world doesn’t buy happiness. And why some of the most miserable people in the world have A LOT of money. The two never go hand in hand.)
If you don’t use self-reflection, you’ll never become the best you. It’s the only way to look at the good, the bad, and everything in between, and use that to process thoughts and feelings in order to move forward with more succinct action.
It helps you get to the root cause of why you feel the way you do.
It helps you become self-aware of who you truly want to be.
Self-reflection is important at every stage of life, but especially at midlife. It helps you put value on where you’ve come from, be present in the moment, and utilize your emotions and feelings for building a stronger future.
Most people go blindly throughout life, reacting to what life throws at them. They aren’t thinking about what they are doing or where they are going.
That’s what self-reflection brings to the table.
Benefits of self-reflection
I have a practice of waking early, meditating, journaling, and adding a few yoga stretches for good measure.
Before I close up my journal for the day, I randomly open to a past entry and read what I had to say. Sometimes I make it a random process. Sometimes I’ll go back to the same day the year before. At the end of the year, I take time to read through all entries for even deeper self-reflection, to help me plan for the coming new year.
As I do this, I know it helps me build on my core, and helps me create a better version of me.
Build better relationships
You can’t build close relationships without having conflict from time to time. Reflection allows me to see what growth is occurring in the relationship, both romantic and with friends and family, and helps guide me to better communication channels.
Creates a stronger sense of self
All of that self-care is about creating the best version of me I can be. Reflection allows me to sit in silence with thoughts and actions I’ve recorded over time, and use it to continue to tackle everyday life.
Allows me to make better decisions
Have you ever thought to yourself: Why do I keep making these same mistakes?
If I catch myself thinking that, I know it’s time for deeper reflection. I’m not understanding what’s held me back in my past, how I’ve handled situations, or why certain situations keep occurring. As I look at my journaling, I can start to see patterns. Recognition is a big part of the process. Recognizing it allows me to reflect on what I could do differently, and helps me grow and make better choices.
Easy ways to bring self-reflection into your life
You’ll have to start journaling – that’s a must. But it isn’t a painful process.
Grab a notebook or journal and start writing. Record your experiences and the emotions and feelings that go along with it.
Get good at asking questions:
- What are my WINs this week?
- What can I improve on?
- How do I feel today?
- What would make me even better?
- What am I grateful for?
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Have trouble writing? Take a walk in nature. Leave your mobile at home and notice everything around you. The birds singing. The water flowing down the river. The trees in full bloom.
Read for 30 minutes. This doesn’t have to be a self-help book. A lot of great literature will bring up emotions and feelings perfect to help you dig deeper into who you are. (I make all kinds of reading recommendations here.)
Join a class. It can be a local class – maybe yoga or a walking club. Or online – you’ll find unlimited empowerment groups just waiting for you.
You can also perform a self-check whenever you need a boost. Skip the doctor’s office. Instead, assess where you are today. What are you grateful for? What’s working in your life? What brings you happiness?
Self-reflection will help you grow as a person
As a human, we’re always growing, reaching, changing. It comes with being alive.
Instead of allowing it to happen to you, make it happen instead. Discover what you’ve learned in the past and use it to impact your future. It’s not as difficult as it sounds.
But it does take work on your part.
So start journaling today!