What is Reflection?
There is another reflection besides the mirror or window one.
Reflection: serious thought or consideration.
Reflection usually refers to taking a step back and seriously thinking about your life, your choices, behaviors, beliefs, etc.
Reflecting prevents you from doing the same thing over and over again. Instead you think about whether doing this same thing will be helpful or something needs to be adjusted to achieve different results. There’s a quote:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
(It’s usually referenced to Albert Einstein stating it, but that’s debatable according to other sources.)
Is Reflection hard?
The short answer, yes. It doesn’t have to be though! The reason it’s hard is because we might discover things about ourselves that we don’t like. If we don’t think it, or nobody tells us, we don’t have to address it! And that makes life easier to live. Ignorance is bliss, no?
I like to think that anything worthwhile is going to be hard at times. Yes it means we need to take personal responsibility for our actions. Yes it means we might need to adjust some things we do in life. Yes it means we might have to embrace change.
If I never looked in a mirror, I would never know what my hair looked like or that I have some major eyebrow tweezing to do. And I could go on living like that forever. But when I look in the mirror, I want the reflection to be more pleasant than a hairy mess. Yes it means I need to put some work in, brush out my hair, and use a straightener, and painfully tweeze out some annoying eyebrow hairs, but the end result will clearly be worth it.
Why should you Reflect?
Reflecting helps you see how you’ve been doing in life. If you’re making mistakes, reflecting helps you realize what exactly you’re doing wrong and what to do differently. At the same time, reflecting helps you realize what you are doing RIGHT, and you can feel confident about that. You can even teach others with your success.
In our information overload culture, we can feel like failures when we don’t do ALL things we feel we have to do to get it right. But when we practice reflecting on our lives, we can see that there are things we already are doing a great job on. We can conclude that whatever is working for our job/family/kids/meals/hobbies doesn’t have to be like the Jones’ family down the street. If we are satisfied with the results, we’re good! And if not, we can try to adjust.
Reflecting helps organize our thoughts. When we’re racing through life at 100 mph it’s hard to slow down and get a grip on things. But when we slow down, we can see why certain things cause a certain reaction out of us.
And because studies are always helpful to drive a point home, here’s a link which talks about the benefits of reflecting on your days.
And because even the Bible gives us some directions towards it:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1: 22-25
Test and evaluate yourselves to see whether you are in the faith and living your lives as [committed] believers. Examine yourselves [not me]! 2 Corinthians 13:5
When I realize that I’m going astray, I turn back to obey your instructions. Psalm 119: 59
How do you Reflect?
So if reflection is good for you, how does one go about it? There is more than one way!
At the end of the year: sit down with somebody important (spouse, friend, child) or by yourself, and talk about how the year went. What were the highlights? What were the lowlights? Where was a challenge that you overcame? Where was a challenge that you could have handled better? What was surprising? Are there goals that you met or should make for next year? These are usual big general questions and don’t require detailed answers. Did my child learn to read? Was I preparing healthy meals? Did our family go on the vacation without pulling money from savings? How many around the house projects did we complete? How much credit card debt got paid off? And so on.
Monthly reflections: same questions as above but could be more specific. You can sit with a cup of tea and think them through, write them out in a journal, take a walk, or a bath, or ride on a tractor while mowing the lawn (my latest favorite). Think about the things you’re grateful for.
It’s not enough just to think about the things that are happening or how they happened. Reflecting means going a little bit deeper. Is there an action you need to take? Is there something you need to adjust? And then acting on it and holding yourself accountable. Some things are clearly beyond our control, and that’s where we process it and make peace instead of being in a constant state of dissatisfaction.
Daily reflections are short mindful exercises. It requires you to be honest with yourself. How do you want your day to go today? What needs to be accomplished? What is the most important thing? How did the day go? Were you present, peaceful, loving? Do you want to do all the things or savor the relationships around you? Maybe some of both? Are you being driven by emotions? Are you trying to control the day? What is something you can do and what can you let go? So many questions and choices and they are all up to you!
Some more reflection questions to help you get started:
(Disclaimer: some of these may or may not be part of my regular reflection questions.)
How am I feeling about this situation? Why does this bother me so much? Is this something I can change, and if so, how? Is this beyond my control? Basically any “WHY” question. Get to the bottom of it. Why am I upset at my child? Why do I yell instead of calmly explaining? Why do I expect first time obedience? Why did we have a rough morning? Why do I compare myself to other people? Why do I talk so much? What am I trying to prove? How would I want this to happen if I were the child? A year from now, will I regret this, will this matter? What did I do well today? What can I be proud of accomplishing today?
Self-reflection is pausing and asking yourself questions. It can be tough at times but it’s a useful tool to organize your thoughts and feelings and adjust certain things in your life. Totally worth it in the end!
What are your favorite reflection questions?