The Power of Self-Reflection: Ten Questions You Should Ask Yourself
To find yourself, lost and without purpose, wondering how you ended up where you are, is a scary thought. If you are not careful, not mindfully aware of where you are going, you could end up somewhere far from where you want to be. These are 10 helpful questions that we each ought to ask ourselves on a frequent basis. The power of self-reflection can serve to keep you in check, to keep you focused on self-improvement and ensure that you are as fulfilled as possible.
1. Am I using my time wisely?
“Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.” - Nathaniel Hawthorne
We all know time is precious. Our goal ought to be to use it in a way that isn’t counter-productive. For example, taking time to unwind and do nothing productive in particular could be beneficial for the mind and body. Finding yourself stuck in a job that offers a stable pay but fails to challenge you, make use of your skills, or provide some sense of value could be considered a substantial waste of time. Most of it is perception. The best way to evaluate this is to imagine yourself five or 10 years from now, looking back to where you are now, this could help you see what aspects in your life may be a waste of your time.
2. Am I taking anything for granted?
“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your last misfortunes, of which all men have some.” - Charles Dickens
There are countless blessings around each of us. Even at our lowest lows we may have the support of family or friends, a roof over our head or skills that we ought to take pride in. We’re naturally forward-looking, which may blind us to our present circumstances. We ought to take a moment every now and again to look at what we have around us and be grateful.
3. Am I employing a healthy perspective?
“Perspective is as simple as answering this question: If I had five months to live would I experience this problem differently?” - Shannon Alder
Whether or not we’re happy, doing what’s right, or if we are successful is all about perspective. We may have the world at our fingertips yet find ourselves utterly empty. We can grow to hate our jobs simply because of one co-worker whom we cannot agree with, or be devastated over a dissolving relationship that had been detrimental to our well-being in the first place. Sometimes we’re so zoomed in on various issues that, when we step back or hear an outside perspective, we can view the issue in a completely different light. Try to adopt new perspectives when possible; a glass-half-full approach can mean a world of difference in regards to certain matters.
4. Am I living true to myself?
“A lot of the conflict you have in your life exists simply because you’re not living in alignment; you’re not be being true to yourself.” – Steve Maraboli
This may take years to fully discover, with many mistakes along the way, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. It’s vital to figure out whether or not we’re deceiving ourselves, leading a life that is far from what we want it to be. We have complete control over what we do, but without consciously evaluating our actions and circumstances every now and again, we can let things spiral away–like the the corrupt politician or steroid-dependent athlete. Figure out what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. If you’re doing something that will cause you regret down the road, work yourself away from it.
5. Am I waking up in the morning ready to take on the day?
“Know that dreaming is a waste of sleeping time and energy if you don’t wake up to achieve them.” - Israelmore Ayivor
Or are you waking up with a sense of hopelessness? The first thought of the day is a massive indicator of your general level of happiness. We all have days that we don’t look forward to, but if you find yourself not wanting to get out of bed day after day, and if you know why that is, it’s time to take action.
6. Am I thinking negative thoughts before I fall asleep?
“Insomniacs know that there is something about the night. A darkness, an energy, a mystery that shrouds things. It hides things at the same time as it illuminates them. It is this thing that allows us to examine our thoughts in a way that we can’t during the day. It is this thing that brings truth and clarity.” - Courtney Cole
When we finally lay down to sleep is when we unplug from everything and finally achieve a measure of clarity, clarity that prompts reflection. Your last thoughts before falling asleep reveal a lot about what’s going on in your life. If they’re consistently negative, try to identify a pattern of what may be causing them and then seek to address the stressors.
7. Am I putting enough effort into my relationships?
“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” - J.K. Rowling
Over time, we can begin to take our relationships for granted. Flames die out, naturally, and novelty wears off. In consequence, this requires constant effort to allow the relationships to grow. Moving away from family, for instance, requires lots of effort to stay connected and stay close. If you don’t want to find yourself losing various individuals in your life, make sure that you’re dedicated towards maintaining your relationships.
8. Am I taking care of myself physically?
“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” - Buddha
We have everything working against us as we get older–more work hours to put in, a family to take care off, decreased energy levels and a slowed metabolism, just to name a few. Our physical well-being can, in turn, be put on the back burner if we’re not aware. Keep an idea of where you want to be physically in the next few years and don’t let that image slip away from you.
9. Am I letting matters that are out of my control stress me out?
“The reason many people in our society are miserable, sick, and highly stressed is because of an unhealthy attachment to things they have no control over.” - Steve Maraboli
The biggest waste of effort we can make is to stress out about things that are outside of our realm of control. A completely unnecessary but inevitably common phenomenon that can ruin our days, our health, and our mental well-being. Make sure to continuously identify your stress factors and work towards eliminating any worries about things that you can’t control.
10. Am I achieving the goals that I’ve set for myself?
“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” - Rosa Luxemburg
This question is necessary to consider on a frequent basis. We all have a general vision of where we want to be in five or 10 years, but it’s a very obscure glimpse based around general accomplishments. PsychologyToday.com reports: “In life, people have many goals (e.g. exercise more, be a better spouse, save more money). However, goals often go unrealized because people lack self-awareness…Thus, to improve our chances of reaching our goals, we must remain aware of our current behavior.” It’s helpful to examine the visions of our future selves in close detail and break down everything that must be done in order to achieve them. Don’t solely focus on the where and what–account for the how.
Through frequent self-reflection, we can make sure that we’re on the right path. Lack of self-reflection can cause us to seem lost or without a purpose. Time flies by and without consciously evaluating our circumstances, we can let so many aspects of our lives slip away: our health, our relationships, our goals. It’s necessary for us to unplug for a few minutes every now and again, when possible, and address a variety of the questions, including those listed above.
“Whether it’s Buddhists engaging in meditation, alcoholics at AA meetings, or philosophers of the Enlightenment studying the texts of Immanuel Kant, being aware of ourselves is an essential step in self-improvement.” – Allen R. McConnell, www.psychologytoday.com