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The Power of Self-Reflection & How It Can Change Your Life

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We as people often neglect the power of self-reflection, yet, in the hardest times we need it more than ever. Like millions of people across the globe, I lost my job as a result of the catastrophic impact of COVID-19. But as I sit here today amongst a world of uncertainty, I find myself at peace. My mind is as clear as can be. Not because I hated my job or had lots of money saved up, because I can assure you that’s not the case. I’m at peace with my situation and know what I want going forward simply because of self-reflection.

It’s safe to say everyone understands self-reflection as a concept. But do they understand its importance? Do they even know how to self-reflect? I suspect that most people don’t have clear answers to those last two questions. My goal is to help you get started on answering those questions. “Answers” will vary amongst each of us, so this piece isn’t about providing all the possible solutions. I decided instead to share my personal experience in hopes that it might convince you to at least attempt giving it your full attention.

Why Do I Need to Self-Reflect?

We simply have too many thoughts, feelings, and emotions each day to be able to sort them out in our heads. Self-Reflection is your outlet for organization. It allows you to understand, dig deeper, and ultimately make positive, value-adding changes in how you live your life.

Before I get too deep into why you should self-reflect, I want to clarify how I’m defining self-reflection. Anyone can be aware and mindful of their thoughts, emotions, and feelings, this alone is not self-reflection. Self-reflection is a wide-ranging process in which you’re not only aware of your thoughts, emotions, and feelings, but you’re able to take corrective action to eliminate negative influences, be honest with yourself, and regain control of what you’ve let slip from your grasp.

As people, we’re subjected to a lot we cannot control. Our current situation displays that prominently. Through self-reflection, you’re able to properly and sort out what is and isn’t in your control. That’s perhaps the most beneficial aspect of self-reflection and one that is so often forgotten. Self-reflection allows us to come to peace with what we can’t control and be honest with ourselves about what we can. Proper self-reflection leads to self-correction.

I’ve used self-reflection in my life to manage my stress and anxiety, as I constantly was concerned about things I couldn’t control. Through reflection, I am able to come to terms with not having complete control, lifting a massive weight off my shoulders. Reflection also allowed me to see that I wasn’t as helpless as I felt.

For example, I’ve dealt with depression much of my adult life and one of the biggest causes of my depression was my anger at myself for feeling or thinking a certain way. If I got nervous to speak in front of people, I would then get upset at myself for feeling this way. The more I reflected on this subject, the more I was able to realize that it’s okay to feel nervous.

Though I may not be able to control this feeling coming about, I can control how I handle it. In other words, self-reflection allows you to regain control in your life where you need it and let go where you’re helplessly trying to hold on.

“Self-reflection entails asking yourself questions about your values, assessing your strengths and failures, thinking about your perceptions and interactions with others, and imagining where you want to take your life in the future.” – Robert L. Rosen

How Do I Self-Reflect?

I want to help you get started on your journey, but as I said before, there are many ways to approach it. Instead of coming up with an exhaustive list and still probably missing a few methods, I thought it best to tell you what worked for me. Ultimately, it’s up to you on “how” you self-reflect, hopefully sharing my experience helps you figure that out.

Writing is the method I prefer to use. I find that writing is versatile, especially when it comes to reflecting. The structure and purpose can be adjusted based on your goal. It’s also a great way to clear your head. Writing allows me to make sense of my thoughts and emotions more than anything else. But what do I mean by “writing?”

Below I’ve outlined my approaches to self-reflection writing:

Brain Dump – When I’m lost or can’t quite figure out where my head is, I just start typing what I’m feeling or thinking. I might struggle to find a rhythm early on, but I almost always find direction along the way.

Journaling – Another technique is to write about your day. Focus primarily on the highs and lows. Why was that moment a high or a low? What were you feeling? What were you doing? What was the situation? And so on. This is how I started my self-reflection journey and it led to many realizations about self-destructive behavior I was engaging in.

Get Specific – I talked earlier about the stress and anxiety I deal with. Once I identified these as problem areas, I started writing about them constantly. When was I feeling stressed or anxious? How did I react to these feelings? What can I do differently? And so on. This is how I started to find success. Once I knew the areas where I was causing damage to myself, I began analyzing them to their core. This is so important because you can’t begin to fix something if you don’t know its full reach.

Ask Big Questions – We all have had the big questions in life enter our head, but rarely do we take them beyond just that. I recently found myself in a position filled with confusion, when I suddenly became unemployed. I had no idea what I wanted to do next, but I realized I’d never truly tried answering that question. So, I started using my writing to try and answer those big questions such as “What am I meant to do?” and “What do I want out of life?”

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” – Margaret J. Wheatley

By devoting real time and effort to these massive questions, I was able to gain more of a sense of what’s meant for me and what I want. I am now working on taking the steps to get me to that point. Not everything can be answered or has a simple answer, but it’s still imperative to try. You’d be surprised at what results in doing so.

The biggest thing to be aware of, is that self-reflection requires true time and effort. Permanently changing your mindset and approach to life is not something that happens overnight. It requires dedication and a willingness, to be honest with yourself. If you’re dedicated to the process, honesty will naturally grow as well, but you must have an open mind when you start this journey.

Garrett Rutledge is a freelance writer who lives in New York City. He received his Bachelor's Degree from Syracuse University, with a double major in Management & Supply Chain Management and a minor in Writing. Throughout his adult life, Garrett has been heavily dedicated to personal development. Whether it’s going through a massive weight loss journey or overcoming depression, he remains committed to bettering himself. He now looks to use his writing background and experience to help others on their own personal development journeys.

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The Imbalanced Problem with Work/Life Balance

Balancing is for your checkbook, gymnastics, and nutrition; not for your people’s work/life ratio.

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5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

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Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.

 

Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:

 

1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.

 

2. Persistent Pain

 
Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
 
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.
 
 

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

 
Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
 
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
 
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
 
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.
 

4. A strong need for control

 
It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
 
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
 
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.
 
 

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

 
Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
 
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.
 
 

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

 
Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
 
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.
 

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

 
 
If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to awebliss.com and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
 
 
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