“Self-Reflection is a humbling process. It’s essential to find out why you think, say, and do certain things – then better yourself.”
Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about life experiences and the role that reflection plays in self-understanding. As we go through life, we experience both positive and negative seasons that contribute to our whole self. Sometimes, when times get quiet, I allow myself to engage in self-reflection. This can be challenging at times because it requires you to come face-to-face with some of the rawest and difficult components of your life. “Why” was the word that kept coming up in my mind. Why did things play out the way that they did? Why does difficulty exist? Why am I feeling this way? “Why?” is one of the most human and primitive questions we ask ourselves. Throughout human history, drawing meaning from the past is what drove progress. The question of “why?” allows us to formulate our understanding and dive deeper with a sense of curiosity. Asking “why?” also allows us to peel back the layers, and with time, we may get to the core of our identity. As humans, we learn from a very early age that our words have meaning. Through reflection, our understanding is deepened, and connections are made in previously unknown areas. It also allows us to draw on the knowledge that is currently available so that we can venture to the deepest parts of our soul. Some of this work can be done in therapy while other parts will be done in reflective silence.
For me, therapy was invaluable to my self-discovery. Therapy provided me with a safe place to explore both the triumphs and struggles that brought me to where I am today. I started going to therapy in college and it became a big component of my transition into adulthood. I was fortunate that every week, I was provided with a safe place to show-up. There was a level of vulnerability that was needed but it was contained within a sense of safety. I could enter the space as I was, without the pressure to mask over the emotions that I was feeling and then leave with a sense of fulfillment. All the emotions that I experienced were validated in this safe space, and with the support of a trained therapist, I was able to go deeper into myself. This is not to say that there was no resistance. There were some days that I felt so much shame, but I was encouraged to keep pushing forward. In those moments, it seemed like I would always be in the thick of it, but now 10 years later, I can tell you with a grateful heart that, I am in a completely different place.
While writing this article, a few questions came to my mind. The first was, how do we know when we have reached a place of understanding regarding our own life experience? The second question that came to mind is what does healing look like? I also reflected on why healing is such an important tool for growth. Healing allows us to grow deeper and understanding ourselves in relation to others. Understanding, reflection, and meaning are the three overall components of “why.” Understanding is the first phase. “Understanding” is the baseline interpretation of an event or life experience. “Reflection” involves allowing yourself to dive deeper. This step is not always easy but ultimately leads to a deeper understanding of ourselves. In can also lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves in relation to others. “Meaning” is the last phase and completes the process of understanding and reflection. Meaning isn’t stagnant; it is something that is always changing in response to new interactions/experiences/ relationships. We are always adding new information to our baseline understanding of ourselves. With new experiences come new perspectives, potentially shifting established meaning.
5 Tips to develop a growth mindset:
- Understanding and healing take time. Don’t rush into the process expecting immediate results.
- Be kind to yourself. You are doing difficult but rewarding work.
- Don’t be afraid to let others in but also don’t feel like you are required to share everything. You are the one who sets the timeline and you are in control.
- It’s okay to take a break.
- Growth and healing practices are going to change over time. Do whatever feels comfortable for you in the moment.
Mental Health Therapist and Co-Founder of PsychoSocial! I live and work in San Francisco, CA. I enjoy the theater, photography, and traveling. My self-care is nature walks.