Reflection: the essence of self-improvement

Each of us has the ability to draw attention inward, to be aware of our thoughts, states, moods and sensations. Using this ability, we can see ourselves from the outside. This ability is called reflection.

The term "reflection" comes from the Latin word "reflectio", meaning "thinking" or "turning back".

Simply put, reflection is the ability to look inside our consciousness and evaluate our behavior and emotional reactions.

When we say that a person reflects, we mean that he focuses on and comprehends his own “I”. This allows you to compare yourself and your personality with those around you, to evaluate yourself critically, to adequately perceive and see yourself as other people see you.

Living in the crazy rhythm of our time, it’s important for us to find time to stop and think over our actions and get to know our own inner world.

The role of reflection in human life

With the help of reflection, we can:

  • Control and analyze our own thinking;
  • Evaluate our thoughts and analyze their validity and consistency;
  • Get to know ourselves more deeply;
  • Evaluate our behavior and correct our actions.

As Albert Einstein said: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." And with the help of reflection, we can correct ineffective behavior and eliminate mistakes in our thoughts and actions.

How to develop reflection in yourself

If it seems like reflection is a terribly complicated concept, don’t worry — it’s really not. In fact, it’s just cultivating the habit of analyzing what is happening in your life. And if you haven’t adopted this habit yet, then it's never too late to do so.

So, here’s what we need to develop reflection:

  • After making a decision, analyze its effectiveness. Examine yourself from the outside: did you do everything right? Perhaps there’s something you’d like to improve?
  • At the end of each day, evaluate how it went. Return mentally to what happened during the day, and carefully disassemble what you weren't satisfied with. Try to look at unfortunate moments and awkward situations from different sides to see them more objectively.
  • Try to communicate more with people who have different views and beliefs. Every time you try to understand another person, you will activate reflection, train your flexibility of thinking and learn to see the situation more broadly.
  • Use problems and difficulties to analyze your actions and hone your ability to solve complex problems and get out of difficult situations. Try to look at your position from different angles, uncovering any non-obvious pros and cons. It’s very useful to find some humor in any situation. This not only perfectly develops self-reflection but also allows you to find non-standard ways to solve your problems.

However, reflection is still a rather energy-consuming exercise. Don't dig yourself up with your last bits of strength — this is more likely to bring frustration than any positive benefits. Also, reflection is not about scolding yourself for the mistakes and failures of the past; it’s about analyzing and accepting your own experience, which will help you to be a better and happier version of yourself in the future.

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates considered reflection to be one of the means available to a person for knowing and improving himself. The ability to critically examine one's thoughts and actions differentiates people from other creatures — making us the highest beings in the evolutionary chain. 

It is this ability that allows all of us to move along the path of progress and become better versions of ourselves.

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