Self-reflection is the key to personal growth: Here’s how to practise it

Self-reflection can help us to have a deeper understanding of who we are. There are many benefits of self-reflection. Here's how you can practise it.
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Self-reflection helps to reduce stress. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 13 Jan 2024, 03:00 pm IST
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We all think and act in different ways. But ever wondered why you act the way you do? Self-reflection can help you understand who you are and what and why you believe in different things. This practise can allow you to develop a deeper understanding of your motivations, values, and goals, fostering personal growth and enhanced self-awareness. You will be able to figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Self-reflection can help you to identify the areas for your growth and improvement. It can also help to reduce stress. Read on to know the benefits of self-reflection and how you can practise it.

What is self-reflection?

Self-reflection is all about being present with yourself. It is the process of contemplating one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions to gain insight into oneself. It involves examining thoughts, personal experiences, beliefs, actions and behaviors in a thoughtful and introspective manner, says mental health and behavioural science expert Dr Rahul Chandhok.

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Self-reflection has many benefits. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are benefits of self-reflection?

Self-reflection can offer many health benefits.

1. Increased self-awareness

It helps in understanding emotions and behaviours. Reflecting inwards allows you to know yourself and understand the changes in your thought process that happen when you develop as a person.

2. Improves decision making power

It helps you to make informed choices based on self-knowledge. If you’re well acquainted with yourself, you will know what’s better for you and would make the right decisions.

3. Enhances emotional intelligence

Self-reflection helps in developing empathy and allows an individual to handle emotions in a better way. A better understanding of one’s own behaviour enables a person to handle their emotions in the best possible way.

4. Reduces stress

A person who has mastered the art of self-awareness knows what’s the cause of trouble for him. So, that person is easily able to identify and address causes of stress.

5. Gives you clarity

Enhanced self-awareness allows people to have a better understanding of their goals. They are able to align their actions with long-term objectives, says the expert.

6. Personal growth

Increased self-awareness opens the door to personal growth. It enables individuals to learn from their experiences and evolve positively.

7. Better relationships

A person who is able to understand himself or herself in a better way would understand and connect with others empathetically. This helps to build healthy relationships.

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8. Increased creativity

Self-reflection allows individuals to foster new ideas through reflective thinking. It helps to increase the person’s creativity.

9. Improves problem solving

A person who is good at self-reflection can analyse challenges. The individual can find effective solutions then.

10. Healthier well-being

By increasing one’s ability to understand themselves, self-awareness promotes mental and emotional balance, says Dr Chandhok.

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Regular journaling is one way to practice self-reflection. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to practice self-reflection?

To practice self-reflection, you can –

  • Ask yourself deep questions like “Am I doing things that make me happy?”
  • Engage in regular journaling.
  • Do meditation or deep contemplation.
  • Stay away from distractions like your phone.
  • Connect with nature.
  • Reflect on specific situations, emotions and outcomes..

Your aim should be to have a balance between self-compassion and constructive self-criticism.

There is no ideal frequency of practicing self-reflection. It’s important here to understand that the frequency of self-reflection varies from person to person. Some benefit from daily practises, while others find weekly or monthly reflections effective, says the expert.

When can self-reflection become a problem?

Self-reflection becomes a problem when any of the following things start to happen:

1. Overthinking

Being too indulged in self-reflection can cause problems. Excessive analysis of situations or things may lead to anxiety and indecision.

2. Negative rumination

Constantly dwelling on mistakes can be detrimental. It’s important to understand that the motive of self-reflection is to make you feel encouraged and motivated, and not push you into regrets for the mistakes you make.

3. Avoidance of action

Just reflecting inwards is not enough, acting on those reflections is also necessary. Excessive reflection without action may hinder progress.

4. Self-criticism

Unhealthy self-critique can erode self-esteem. Instead of just criticising yourself, you must focus on ways to improve yourself.

5. Rigidity

You’ve to be flexible with the ways for self improvement. Over-reliance on reflection may inhibit adaptability, notes the expert.

6. Isolation

Self-reflection doesn’t mean that you have stop interacting with the outside world. Excessive introspection may lead to social withdrawal.

7. Perfectionism

Self-reflection doesn’t mean that you have to focus on being perfect in all aspects. Unrealistic self-expectations can impede your growth.

8. Dependency

Relying solely on self-reflection may neglect external perspectives. External perspectives are equally important for a holistic growth.

9. Distorted perceptions

Biased introspection may lead to inaccurate self-assessment. So, make sure that your self-reflection is unbiased.

Refrain from self-examining yourself all the time. Take breaks in between, as continuous self-examination without breaks can be exhausting and won’t help you in improving yourself.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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