When was the last time you truly reflected on your life? Maybe it was on your last big birthday as you blew out the candles? Or when your little one graduated kindergarten and you marveled at how quickly the years were flying by as you wiped a tear from your cheek?
The reality is that most of us are so busy rushing through our days, functioning on auto-pilot, that we rarely make time for self-reflection outside of momentous occasions. However, if you were able to practice it as part of your day-to-day life, you would soon realize the many benefits of self reflection.
It’s one of the best ways I know to create a greater awareness of and connection with yourself. Not only will recognizing the importance of self reflection shift your mindset, but it will elevate your life on many fronts.
First, let’s get into what exactly self-reflection is, as well as exploring the benefits of self-reflection and why it’s so important.
Read to the end and I will provide you with 20 questions for self-reflection that you can start using today + a FREE printable booklet of 50 self-reflection questions!
What is self reflection?
Self-reflection is about creating awareness of what’s going on within yourself. Using a self-reflection practice involves taking time to focus inward and ask yourself important questions about yourself, your life, your goals, habits and behaviors. It entails taking stock of what’s happening in your life and all that you are doing or not doing to contribute to this.
It’s getting to know yourself better and gaining a greater understanding of the workings of your thoughts, wants, desires, and mind. It sounds simple, but it’s something many of us don’t spend much time on and it can be challenging and uncomfortable for some.
That’s why understanding the importance and benefits of self-reflection, as well as the questions I’ve provided to get you started may be helpful.
Importance of self reflection
Self-reflection is an integral part of personal growth. By reflecting on what is going on in your life and the role you play in that, it leads to a greater understanding and awareness of yourself.
This helps you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, as well as changes you may want to make so you know where to focus your energy and efforts. By getting to know yourself better, you are able to evaluate your life, and start being intentional in creating the life you want and focusing on what matters to you, rather than functioning on auto-pilot.
In turn, this leads to more happiness and fulfillment in your life overall.
10 Benefits of Self reflection
1.) Eases anxiety
I don’t know about you, but when I have a bunch of thoughts swirling around in my head and I don’t give myself a way to process them, I feel anxious. Using self-reflection allows you to make sense of how you’re feeling, why you may be feeling a certain way, and what you can do about it. Whenever I’m able to get my thoughts out of my head and sort through them, this results in me feeling less anxious about the situation at hand and helps me maintain a more positive mindset.
I’m not saying you’ll stop experiencing anxiety all together, but if you’re able to look inward at what’s behind the anxiety, you can offer yourself some reasoning or counter arguments based on things you know to be true and this will often help to ease your anxiety.
2.) Provides clarity
Using self-reflection provides clarity and can help you see solutions to your problems.
We tend to see our problems as bigger than they really are. This becomes especially true when we keep thinking the same thoughts over and over again without taking action. By taking a moment to pause, reflect, and look within, you’ll often gain perspective and find that you actually have many of the answers you’ve been seeking all along.
3.) Challenges your thoughts
Often our thoughts hold power over us. They cause us to feel a certain way and these feelings lead to certain behaviors or acting in ways we may regret later.
Self-reflection offers us the opportunity to challenge our thoughts, to ask ourselves if we should give any weight to particular thoughts. After all, thoughts are just thoughts, not facts, so it’s important to ask yourself if you actually believe those thoughts to be true or if you should let them go entirely.
When you actually take the time to reflect and write these thoughts down, you can discover if you really believe them. Eventually, you’ll start to realize that the things you tell yourself about yourself or others are not always true.
Some thoughts just don’t serve you and thus, through self-reflection, you can see this and start learning how to let those thoughts go.
“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.”― Byron Katie, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life
4.) Holds you accountable and tracks your progress
When you use self-reflection to evaluate where you are today and where you want to be in the future, and write down your goals, not only does it create awareness of what you want for your life, but it also is a record you can use to hold yourself accountable and see the incremental changes you are making to move forward.
Self-reflection also helps you to recognize what fears may be holding you back. Seeing your fears for what they are and making necessary mindset shifts to face them, will help you move past them.
5.) Guides you to your intuition
The more you practice self-reflection, the easier you will find it is to tune out the outside noise and start listening to your intuition. Use questions for self-reflection to become more aware of your inner voice and all that it’s trying to tell you. This will lead you to make better choices that align with your core values and the person you truly are.
6.) Helps you live more intentionally
If you are consistently reflecting on how you’re living your life and examining your choices, then this helps to keep your “why” in the forefront of your mind. You become better able to recognize patterns you don’t like and consider where you may want to do things differently. Then you can implement these changes in your daily life and spend your time and efforts more intentionally.
You may discover where to insert more joy and calm into your days, how to better give yourself and your family what is needed, and then become more intentional with making these behavioral changes.
7.) Creates a more positive mindset
When you’re aware of what matters to you, you’re less likely to get sidetracked by petty details and better able to put things in perspective. This allows for a more positive mindset to develop. One in which you’re focused on your goals and desires for the future, rather than dwelling on mistakes or mishaps of the past.
8.) Improves your relationships
The better you know yourself, the better able you are to show up truly in your relationships with others. Feeling more connected with yourself, allows for greater connection with friends and family. Furthermore, when you truly know yourself and make the choice to show up as your true self, it encourages others to do the same, which leads to more intimate connection.
Also, when you understand yourself better, you will be better able to express yourself and be understood by others. Sometimes people complain that someone else doesn’t understand them, but oftentimes when you don’t understand yourself, it makes it harder for someone else to have a clear understanding of you.
9.) Builds self-confidence
Someone who uses self-reflection in their life is more aware of both their strengths and weaknesses. Being more clear about where your strengths lie helps boost confidence because it directs you to focus more energy on doing what you’re good at. When you are focusing on what you’re good at and taking action in this direction, it increases your overall sense of confidence.
On a similar note, when you are aware of your weaknesses and are able to see them as opportunities for growth, you will be motivated to refine your skills in those areas and will improve all around. Thus, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to continuously learn and grow.
10.) Helps you make better decisions
As I mentioned above, one of the benefits of self-reflection is clarity. Having clarity helps you make better decisions.
By reflecting on appropriate questions and thinking of possible solutions, your mind goes over problems in a more systematic manner. Self-reflection helps you see possible solutions more clearly, sort through your options, and decide what makes the most sense and what is best for you in the scenario you are facing.
Tips for Practicing Self-reflection
Set aside time each day
Schedule time each day for self-reflection. Often if time for self-reflection is not incorporated into your week’s plan and scheduled into each day, most of us will tend to let it slide. Therefore, the best way to ensure you’ll do the work is to block out some time for it each day, put it in your schedule, and set a reminder, so you won’t forget.
The best time for self-reflection will be different for everyone. It should be the time of day when you have the most energy and presence of mind to answer difficult questions and process what you’re thinking and feeling. Whether this is during your morning routine or part of how you unwind before bedtime, do whatever fits you and your lifestyle best.
Choose a method that works for you
Although I tend to favor writing as my method of self-reflection, it is key to do what feels right for you.
- Journaling – If you’ve yet to create a journaling practice, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. In a blank diary, you can use the self-reflection questions I’ve provided below. Or get yourself a guided journal and answer the prompts with whatever thoughts come to mind. By using a journal, you’ll have a written record of your responses to look back on and note the impacts happening in your life.
- Meditation – You may also choose to meditate for self-reflection. Sit somewhere quiet, clear your mind, and pick a few questions to ponder with no pressure or judgment. Afterwards, write down what you can remember so you can look back on it.
- Nature walk – Another idea is to go for a walk in nature when you can take time to connect with yourself and your inner workings. Furthermore, connecting with the natural world around you can help you to let go of thoughts and beliefs that may be holding you back from your own growth.
Be Honest and Have No Judgment
There’s no point in asking yourself questions for self-reflection if you’re not going to be honest in your answers, right? In order for you to feel the benefits of self-reflection, it’s imperative that you allow your thoughts to flow freely and have no expectations of them or rules surrounding the process. You might be surprised at what flows out of you and hopefully you’ll discover something new about yourself, like a new interest or passion.
Get started with these 20 Questions for Self-Reflection:
- Which past experiences are you most grateful for?
- Which have been your best moments in life so far?
- What have been your biggest mistakes and what have you learned from them?
- How do you feel when you first wake up in the morning?
- What takes up the majority of your time?
- What are your biggest worries?
- What does your ideal life look like 5 years from now?
- What is on your bucket list? Make one
- What goals do you have for the future?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? List 5 of each
- What is the most common negative thought you have about yourself and how can you turn it into a positive?
- If you could only use five words, how would you describe yourself?
- What does success look like to you?
- Which goals did you accomplish this week/month/year and where did you fall short?
- How much time this week/month have you spent on caring for yourself? Do you feel it’s enough?
- When was the last time you cried and why?
- What makes you feel energized and refreshed?
- Which relationships matter to you the most and why?
- Are you happy with your relationship with your spouse/partner? Your children?
- Who in your life disappoints you the most and how?
Are you ready to start enjoying the benefits of self reflection in your life?
I hope after reading this article, you see that the importance of self-reflection shouldn’t be underestimated. The more you do it, the better you’ll understand yourself and the easier it will be to lead a more intentional, fulfilling and happy life!
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Carly is a wife, mom, and former fashion industry executive turned blogger, who is on a journey to live life as the best version of herself. Through her website, littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice and heartfelt insights to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life.