A light snowy Sunday morning as I finish up this column for Q-Salt Lake. Of recent, I have spent a generous amount of time thinking, examining my own life, this past year in some serious self-reflection. So much has happened in 2014, historically one of the biggest years I can remember in my entire life. Everyone is going to do a major highlights of 2014-in-review article, however I would like to focus on personal REFLECTION, with the year 2014 as the framework.
Lots of people hope for a better upcoming year, in fact we spend time setting goals, resolutions, tactics in an attempt to create the year we want. I am not denying those are effective tools, but before one can look ahead, I firmly believe you have to SEE (in reflection), before you DO (in action) and finally GET (the results you desire.)
Years ago I had the pleasure to work on a project with Meg Wheatley, her work and different methods of approaching life and business have always intrigued me.
“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”
—Margaret J. Wheatley
She speaks truth. How many times do we in the Queer community, see recurring patters and conclusions with unsatisfying results in our own lives, our organizations, our place as a sub-culture within the greater society?
Personal reflection, particularly using the last year as the examination time frame can be done in many different ways; written, visual, journaling, a mind map, hell an Excel spreadsheet if that gives your brain a boner. What’s vital is that without the self-reflection of what’s transpired, your successes as well as those things that did not go so well is lost wisdom. Confucius brings it full circle to life being about obtaining wisdom, self wisdom, and wisdom that can be used to help others.
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.”
For me self-reflection is the way to remove inner road-blocks, to first become aware of the things that are really holding me back and then tackle them by finding a present and future solution. Using a personal journal is the best way to do it. If journaling conjures up past LDS behaviors, then call it something else, but consider doing it. It is a huge part of the SEEING I was referring to previously. If you have a good friend to share this process with, all the better. Someone you trust, a person you find objective with good listening and feedback skills. You may play this role for one another in the reflection process. All the better, it deepens the friendship and gets much better results. This is a process of bringing inner road-blocks or wishes to the light and is one of the most important things to do for personal inner growth. It’s one of the best ways to attain clarity as well as immense personal power.
Consider the following humbly suggested process of self-reflection. I hope it can be helpful for others as it has been for me.
- Get into the right mindset and location. Make sure all of your attention is on the process, so don’t be distracted by music, television, electronics. It is best if you don’t have anything else on your mind. You don’t want to get interrupted either.
- Ask yourself the best questions. I typically have pre-charted the big events in my life that took place in the previous year, from that charting the biggest and best self-reflection questions will naturally surface. Trust me on this. Ask the questions and come up with some conclusions. Big questions concern inner conflict, self-satisfaction, I usually start by asking myself the question that is on my mind, the question that expresses an inner conflict. It is something that has a continuing influence on me, where I am not satisfied and want to change.Good questions are always the ones that bring your topic to the point by asking “How can I …”. Usually questions starting with “Why …” are not very effective.
A good How-question is more solution-oriented and therefore usually much more empowering.
Some examples of questions could look like this:
- How can I get more energy? (opposed to Why do I have no energy?)
- How can I find more self-worth, self-love, self-power? (opposed to Why do I feel worthless, etc?)
- Be 100% truthful. When thinking about your questions, your thoughts, answer them to the best degree of truth you can. Break out of social conditioning and of beliefs and things that other people put onto you. If you really ask yourself, you usually can find a much deeper answer to questions. Being truthful with yourself is the key. The power lies within telling yourself the complete truth and then acting in the future with that self-knowledge.
- Find clarity: Analyze the situation by writing and coming to a solution, that’s the whole idea of reflecting: getting to the core of the major (and minor events) in your life and by that—getting an “Aha-Moment”. This is a realization of a new quality, an insight that came out of the reflection-process, something that you have not seen before and that gives you better perspective. Often this process involves several steps: maybe you come from your first question to another, deeper question. Don’t lose sight of the original personal question you wanted to answer for yourself. Otherwise you could drift into different topics, getting overwhelmed and finally getting nowhere.
- Make new/improved decisions and commit to them. If you found a good answer to your various questions you now have the power to work from this new knowledge and really make a very positive and pleasing change. The realization alone will have a very positive impact. Maybe it means you have to stop something, or to intensify something. Whatever it is, to use this self-attained knowledge is the key now. Make the conclusion and make the decisions. Reflection followed by Action, a new formula for the end of a year and the beginning of a new one.
Goethe said: “Never by reflection, but only by doing is self-knowledge possible to one.” While this first seems like a contradiction to the process of self-reflection, it is not. The reason to do self-reflection is to be more effective in the doing. SEEING, DOING, GETTING.
2014 was a huge year, who knows the power of what can be accomplished in 2015? SEE you in 2015.