You may find yourself getting caught up in day-to-day existence, with little direction for your future. That's why periodically throughout life, it's important to search for deeper meaning. This process gives you a chance to pay attention to where you are now and think about where you want to be.
What Is Self-Reflection?
Socrates is quoted as saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The goal of looking inward is to learn more about yourself and rejuvenate your soul. Many people turn to this approach when they are in a funk, feeling unhappy and/or unsatisfied with their everyday life.
Although soul searching can be a useful way to get out of a rut, you should also periodically turn inward even when you are feeling satisfied with the way things are. This can help you maintain feelings of peace and happiness.
Steps in the Self-Reflection Process
1. Pay Attention to Your Immediate Situation
People have the natural habit of focusing on the future and the past while neglecting to live in the present moment. So ask yourself the following questions:
- How am I feeling at this moment in time?
- Why am I experiencing positive/negative emotions?
- What is going well in my life?
- What would I change in my life?
- What can I improve in my life?
- What is my greatest achievement?
- What am I thankful for?
In addition, think deeply about where you are in life. This can help you determine if there are certain things you want to work toward; it also gives you a chance to feel grateful for what you have and to let go of what you don't.
2. Think About Your Future Plans
Now start reflecting on where you want to be; setting realistic goals can help you generate motivation for change. Stay away from thinking about things—a bigger house, a newer car—and instead focus on self-fulfillment. For example, one of your goals could be learning to be content on your own; another could be learning how to take care of your physical and mental well-being.
3. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Since soul searching is an ongoing process, it's important to have tools that guide you. Make an effort to write down what you are thankful for on a daily or weekly basis. This can help you improve feelings of gratitude and happiness. Focusing on positive aspects of your life can help you remember how fortunate you are even if you're experiencing difficult times.
4. Step Away from Distractions
Thanks to smartphones and social media, people can stay connected at all times. Although this has its advantages, constant connection may make it difficult to live in the moment since you are always checking out what other people are doing. It also can make your own life feel inadequate when you see people constantly sharing the best moments of their lives.
Spend some time unplugged from electronics (including your computer and TV). Take a chance to enjoy the quiet and learn to embrace feelings of boredom. Soon enough, you may feel more content with your thoughts and this sense of solitude. Learn how to limit social media and focus on living your life more mindfully.
5. Connect with Nature
Spending time in nature gives you an opportunity to appreciate the beauty around you and helps you notice the simple things in life. Hiking and breathing in the fresh air can make your soul feel revived and energized. You may also find your mind wandering during a long walk in nature. This is helpful for self-reflection and creative thinking.
6. Appreciate Your Loved Ones
Self-reflection gives you a chance to improve your relationships. Think about the people who bring you feelings of joy and comfort, and recall some of your favorite memories with these people along with what you appreciate about each of them. Communicating these positive feelings to your loved ones can strengthen your relationships.
It’s also important to identify the people in your life who elicit negative feelings and try to figure out why that happens. You may discover that you and this person need to work on your communication. You may also find out that distancing yourself from this person will bring you more happiness overall. Try not to focus on what this person did wrong, but rather on why it is best for you both to move on from your relationship.
7. Make an Effort to Meet New People
Welcoming new people into your life helps you gain new perspectives and outlooks on life. Having a diverse group of friends can help you learn new things and expose yourself to new experiences. Make time for people who bring you feelings of joy and uplift you. Avoid connecting with people who make you anxious or bring you down.
8. Continue to Learn Throughout Your Life
You should continue to make an effort to learn even after your time as a student. Continuous learning can help you gain a better understanding of yourself and the world around you. Be open-minded to information that challenges your worldview; you may discover that you held unproductive biases and false notions. However, always be aware of the sources for your information.
One important part of the learning process is failure. Don't be afraid to fail, because it can result in you learning lessons that, uncomfortable as they may be at the time, will ultimately help you grow. After each failure, reflect on what you can improve next time; soon you will discover how much you have improved since you first started.
Self-reflection should be a part of your everyday life. With practice, you can learn to enjoy this process and pay more attention to those things that are really important.
Like this article? You’ll love our weekly newsletter
sign up here!
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.