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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.

Life

3 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself and Live an Optimized Life

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The secret to happiness lies in the way you live your life. People think of happiness as some destination they’ll reach when they’ve accomplished the hundred things on their life to-do list. Happiness is often associated with money, material possessions, or even great relationships. (more…)

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These 7 Daily Resolutions Can Change Your Life

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We all strive to be better every day. Most of us want a new day to bring something new, and we plan for it as well. Of course, the execution is debatable as procrastination is real and it becomes an overwhelming feeling at times. Also, not to forget the customary practice of making resolutions on new year’s eve!  All of us are fascinated by the thought of preparing long lists of resolves to mark the beginning of a new year. Not sure how many people are able to translate these resolutions into functional realities. (more…)

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4 Reasons Why Content Is Pivotal For Mental Health Healing

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One of the most important things for an entrepreneur’s mental health is expressing their feelings, thoughts, and emotions. This is where content creation and writing becomes pivotal. Whether you read something that resonates with you or you write a compelling blog post, the act of expressing yourself through content can help to put a smile on your face and make you feel better about things.

Most entrepreneurs don’t spend as much time taking care of their mental health as they should. Over the course of your career, you will experience a lot of ups and downs; these emotions have the potential to take a toll on your mind and body if you don’t learn to manage them properly.

Here are four reasons why expression through content is pivotal for healing, slowing yourself down, and giving yourself grace when the going gets tough.

1. Content can be a form of self-expression

When you are an entrepreneur, you frequently face feelings of insecurity, doubt, fear, apathy, and exhaustion, just to name a few. Some days it feels like no one is on your business’s side and everyone else has it all figured out. On those days some of us try to look at our website’s analytics to cheer up. 

But an even more freeing task is creating content. You create content to improve your business and reach more people’s lives. But, there is something special that happens when you write with the intention of expressing your thoughts and feelings — you open a door to yourself. 

Content is inherently personal, which means content creators open themselves up when they share their thoughts on a platform. Everything from the title of the post, the keywords they choose to include, and even the content itself helps you to understand who the author of that post truly is. And as an entrepreneur, this can be an important experience because it allows others to empathize with you.

2. Self-reflection will lift you up

As you think through what to write about and how to express yourself, the process of self reflection is a valuable step you need to go through. You’re able to reflect on the blessings you have, assess what you learned from the negative experiences, and create a plan on how to maintain the positive experiences you’ve had. 

There are a few ways that self reflection can help you with mental health healing. The act of reflecting on your experiences helps to create clarity in feelings, thoughts and emotions which will eventually lead into acceptance for what has happened or is happening currently without feeling overwhelmed by it all. This process also leads people towards finding new things they enjoy doing. Self reflection is therapeutic and can be implemented anytime you feel the need to overcome overwhelm.

“Writing in a journal each day allows you to direct your focus to what you accomplished, what you’re grateful for and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow. Thus, you more deeply enjoy your journey each day.” – Hal Elrod

3. A sense of belonging and camaraderie

It is important to have a support network of people who will listen and understand what you are going through. When you post a blog or upload a video on YouTube, there are others who feel the same way and experience a sense of connection with you.

When you put time, attention and thoughtfulness into your writing, it is amazing when someone reads what you’ve written and comments on it thanking you or expressing how they resonate with what you’re going through. It’s hard to put into words how powerful it feels when someone who has gone through the same experience and reads your words then reaches out.  There is power in expression but miracles happen when people bond over a similar experience.

4. Library of content to share with more people

It can be very difficult to know what content to share with people as the symptoms of mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.) vary from person to person. But as you accumulate more and more content, this will increase the number of articles or videos available for readers to choose from depending on their specific purpose. It also builds your personal library of resources you’re able to share to different people you encounter or engage directly with.

As chaotic and distracting social media can be, it can also be a beacon of hope with the right content. Many people share viral posts, or content that interest them. Since your content is valuable and personal, the more you share it, the more likely it is to be shared with the right audience.

You never know who is watching (reading)

Your content is speaking to someone and even though they may not be actively engaged, their experiences with your work are impacting them. Think about the last time you watched TV: did everyone in the room have something entertaining to say? 

You never know who’s watching because there’s always somebody reading your posts or viewing your videos-even if they just skim through it briefly. This is why creating content worth consuming is critical, not only to get you out of your funk, but also to serve your audience.  Be authentic and stay true to yourself; make every post count as an opportunity for connection with your best self and for potential readers to bond with you.

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Life

5 Ways To Invest In Yourself and Change Your Life

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Warren Buffett once said, the best investment you can ever make is in yourself. Time and money spent on bettering yourself are never considered a waste. Whether it’s through learning how to make money online, exploring new ways to increase your financial security, or watching TED talks to expand your knowledge. Do not be stingy when it comes to self-improvement because it will definitely pay off in the end. 

Need some ideas to get started on your journey to becoming a better you? Here are 5 ways to invest in yourself and transform your life. 

1. Change Your Self-Concept

Having a negative self-concept can have a tremendous impact on your life. Limiting beliefs and self-doubt are some of the main reasons why many never achieve or attempt to pursue their dreams. Take a moment and think about all the negative thoughts you have repeated to yourself throughout your life. How have these thoughts impacted the way you live life? From now on, create a new self-image by turning these negative thoughts into positive ones and appreciate your good qualities. 

2. Sign Up For An Online Course

If you’ve been wanting to brush up on your Photoshop skills or learn how to code professionally, this is the perfect time to get started. As long as you have a stable internet connection, you can access an endless amount of valuable information online. For example, sites like Coursera and Youtube are both awesome resources for online learning. With a few search strings and clicks, you can find all the information you need. 

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” – Robin Sharma

3. Learn From a Mentor

No matter which stage of your life you are currently in, working with a mentor can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. Not only can they guide you in the right direction, but also transform your vision, provide you with new insights, and connect you with amazing resources. If you’re feeling unmotivated or unsure about what you want to do in life, consider finding a mentor to help you navigate this process. 

4. Start A Side Hustle

The salary from a 9-5 job would rarely allow you to reach your maximum income potential. Why not achieve financial success while pursuing your passion by starting a side hustle? Whether it’s through starting an ecommerce business, freelance writing on the side, or starting a Youtube channel. There are infinite numbers of ways to make money, and there is bound to be one out there that fits your passion and skills. 

5. Nourish Your Body

As many may say, “health is the new wealth”. Without a healthy and functioning body, living a fulfilling and comfortable life becomes difficult. To take care of your body and prioritize your wellbeing, start with small habits such as eating healthier foods and exercising regularly. Bike or walk to work instead of taking the car, and opt for a healthy protein bowl instead of greasy burgers at Burger King. With time, these small habits can make an incredible difference.

Check out the infographic below, to see more ways you can invest in yourself:

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