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Published on February 12, 2021

What Is Reflective Practice (And How To Get Started)

What Is Reflective Practice (And How To Get Started)

Do you ever feel like that, at times, your life is being driven on autopilot? Somehow, you keep repeating the same mistakes, you engage in the same behaviors, and attract the same inefficiencies from all sorts of situations in your personal or work life?

Your life may be going great, but deep down you know you can be doing things better or improve in certain areas. Yet, for some reason, you just can’t understand why you keep doing some of the things that you are doing, which may at times be holding you back from achieving what you really want.

Wouldn’t it be great to learn to master your internal thought processes and make more intentional decisions within and around you Rather than react robotically to the circumstances in your life? Well, reflective practice is the tool to get you there.

In this article, I will break down all the valuable knowledge, benefits, and methods needed to start taking your potential in life to the next level.

What Is Reflective Practice?

Reflective practice may be an unfamiliar term to you, but it is far from a new phenomenon. In fact, you just unknowingly know it as something else.

Reflective practice is the process of looking back on your past thoughts, actions, and experiences to help you learn and continuously improve throughout your lifetime.

Now, human nature has us all automatically reflect and judge the past regularly. It’s a part of who we are. The problem is that many people do so emotionally and as a result, react to the circumstances of their life, rather unconsciously, unaware of the underlying “whys” behind their actions.

Unlike casual reflection on the past, reflective practice requires you to use a set of questions to better understand and challenge your thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions floating in your inner world. Your train of interrogative thoughts will then give you insight and understanding into what led you to experience a situation and the resulting outcome in your life the way you did.

See it as a form of critical thinking, if you will, where you do not get emotionally involved with what you are questioning and looking back on.[1]

“Reflection is an important human activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it, mull it over and evaluate it. It is this working with experience that is important in learning.”—David Boud

There are many terms for the practice, all of which are derived from the writings of early philosophers, among the likes of the Chinese philosopher Confucius and Greek philosopher Socrates.

You see, early philosophers discovered their ability to become self-aware of the mind’s thinking processes, and thanks to them, you too are going to discover your own hidden abilities.

Finding Your Super-Self

Now, this self-awareness—or metacognition—is the primary tool of emotional intelligence you’re going to need to build to engage in proper reflection.

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You can look at metacognition as your ability to think about what you’re thinking about. Imagine stepping into a helicopter and flying high above all the commotion going on in your head. That would be a breath of fresh air wouldn’t it? Well, that “outsider’” viewpoint from high above is exactly where you want to be during a reflective review of yourself.

Now, don’t think that you need to become a guru or sit in endless hours of meditation and mindfulness practice before you can become self-aware. They will definitely serve as a good tool for you in the long run. For now, however, it’s enough to get yourself started through a simple act of will by placing your focus and awareness on observing the entire picture going on in your head.

You may think you’re new to self-awareness but actually, if you’ve ever landed yourself an office job in your career, your performance appraisals are a form of reflective-practice within themselves.

As your boss makes you look back on your performance throughout the year, you’re consciously looking for areas of improvement you can both agree on for the coming year. This is the self-awareness and improvement you want to cultivate and look for across all other areas of your life. Self-appraisals, critical thinking, self-criticism are all other forms of reflective practice that all contribute towards building emotional intelligence.

Now, there’s more than just a salary increase or a promotion at work to look forward to if you’re wondering how your life could change.

3 Amazing Benefits Of Reflective Practice

Engaging in a regular reflective practice can also give you additional benefits, such as the following:

1. Continuous Professional Development

Performance appraisals are a form of CPD, but you don’t have to wait a year to take charge of your professional development in the workplace. Nor do you have to rely exclusively on any learning seminars or activities organized by your work.

By regularly reflecting and learning from your experiences at work, you’ll be able to develop and enhance your abilities to apply and make better decisions. This will increase your productivity and contribution to the cause you are working for.

Today, most people tend to point the blame at everyone except themselves when things go wrong. I’m sure at some point in your life you’ve had a fracas with a colleague or co-worker, which only resulted in wasted time and no solution to any given issue.

Reflecting on the bigger picture objectively regularly will not only help you think outside the box, but it will also help you assume responsibility for all your actions and become aware of solutions you were oblivious to when reacting from an emotional state.

Reflective practice is by no means limited to office jobs. It applies—and should be considered—across all professions, especially by people holding influential roles in society.

In fact, politicians, healthcare workers, and teachers are a few examples of influential roles in society who continue to adopt and benefit from regular reflective practice habits.

2. Higher Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence

The more you use reflective practice to look back on experiences in your personal or work life, the more your consciousness will expand.

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Self-awareness is a conscious state of being—a form of meditation in itself by reflecting most of the time from a non-judgmental point of view. The more conscious you become of your thoughts, actions, and surroundings, the more resilient you will become in handling all the stressors in life that come your way.

As your awareness grows, you’ll also get to know your true limits and capabilities as a human being that you would otherwise overestimate or underestimate beforehand.

Knowing you can objectively look back on any situation in your life and take corrective action will give you the increased confidence and emotional intelligence to take more positive risks and steps in any area of your life!

3. Healthier Relationships

Your relationships also stand to benefit from reflective practice, be it with yourself or others.

The problem with relationships nowadays is the lack of efficient communication and our over-reliance on assumptions. Most people tend to assume what others are thinking or feeling and in return, expect others to know what they expect out of others and life.

Sorry to say, relying on assumptions and expectations will almost always lead to feelings of disappointment as assumptions are often wrong and expectations are often broken.

But fret not! If you snap at people easily, take things personally all the time, or notice a drift in any of your close relationships—be it your marriage or with other close family or friends—take a second to reflect on what’s going on.

You may want to be your own counselor. Sit down either alone or as a couple and understand the underlying reasons (assumptions and expectations) that each of you holds behind any breakdown of communication.

You can apply the same process to yourself to understand the limiting thoughts and beliefs that have been holding you back from experiencing breakthroughs in your personal life. You will not only mend your rocky internal or external relationships by doing so, but you’ll cultivate stronger emotions of joy and love as your self-awareness and confidence grow.

If you want all of these benefits in your life, read on to find out how exactly you can get started and transform your life.

What You’ll Need to Unlock Your Potential

Over the years various philosophers, mental health professionals, and educational theorists brought theories forward as to how reflective practice should be applied.

However, I’m going to present to you the two most popular and valuable methods most people use and make reference to today when engaging in a reflective review.

1. Terry Borton’s Model of Reflective Practice

The most basic Reflective Practice Model is that of Terry Borton (1970).[2] Borton’s model is the easiest and most straight forward model you’ll be able to understand and apply.

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As you’re ready to reflect, you should start your chain of questions to yourself with:

    (Source: Rolfe 2001)

    a) What?

    The most important questions to start with are the “whats.” They will help you describe the experience you are looking back on by providing you with the facts of a situation.

    For example, ask yourself: What happened? What was the outcome of my experience? What did I or other people do in that situation? What is the reason I’m looking back on this particular moment in time?

    b) So What?

    Next comes your critical analysis of the situation. What lessons can you gather and understand from what happened and what corrective measures can you become aware of that will help you approach the situation differently going forward?

    Start your chain of questions with a “So what?” question stance and work your way into detail as you go along trying to analyze.

    For example, you may want to proceed along these lines:

    • So, what was my emotional state at the moment I’m looking back to? What were my thoughts and feelings at the time and how did I feel afterward? Did I feel the same or differently?
    • Next, so what consequences came out of my actions or as a result of not taking action at the moment? Did I hurt anyone with what I did or said? Could I have prevented something from happening if I intervened or spoke up? What did others understand or conclude from my words or actions?
    • Go on, so what positive lessons can I pick up from this moment? What can I notice from my attitudes and actions and from the reactions of others that will help me change my perspective going forward?

    The list of “So what?” questions are infinite, though the above trio will almost certainly help you tackle a chunk of your rational, critical analysis.

    c) Now What?

    Finally comes the stage where you identify action steps to address what you took out from the lessons learned and consequences identified. Taking new action in any given situation in your life will almost always result in new consequences, and this is what you want to look out for.

    For example, keep asking yourself: Now, what would most likely happen if I did this one thing over the other? What would happen if I choose to do something or hold back? Which action steps should I prioritize? Go on along these lines.

    2. Gibbs Reflective Cycle

    Another valuable tool for you to refer to is the Graham Gibbs model. Most other reflective practice models today are built on the work of Terry Borton.

    Graham Gibbs’ model (1988) is among the most popular models used today to reflect on and understand work situations.[3]

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    Having said that, the model can also be applied to your personal life.

    Here are the necessary steps to apply the Gibbs Reflective Cycle:

    1. Description – Describe what happened?
    2. Feelings – What were you thinking and feeling?
    3. Evaluation – What was good and bad about the situation?
    4. Analysis – What sense can you make of the situation?
    5. Conclusion – What else could you have done?
    6. Action Plan – If it arose again, what would you do?

    The same train of thought and questions as the Borton Model can be applied here. Gibbs just breaks the categories down for you into further detail.

    The Flexible Solution to Most of Your Problems

    You’re now equipped with how to apply reflective practice in your life, though I’m sure you’re asking yourself when would be best to hold a reflective review. And I’ve got you covered on that.

    Ideally, reflective practice is carried out when you have cooled off from any given situation, be it hours, days, or weeks after an event. Only from a non-emotional state can you best carry out an objective non-bias review of any experience or situation in your life.

    Having said that, subjective reviews also exist. Subjective reviews take place when your emotions are still pumping and running high after an experience. As your mind naturally distorts reality towards your biased views, you can still assess how you are really feeling and what unconscious beliefs arise during an experience or event.

    Nonetheless, a subjective review is not a must and they only complement an objective review to give you a better overall picture and understanding of things. Once your emotions cool off, you must then carry out an objective reflection.

    It’s Easier to Apply Than You Think

    Now for the great news! You can literally conduct a reflective review anytime and anywhere—at home or work and even while exercising and traveling. You name it!

    In work settings, you can consider joining or forming a reflection group within your organization.

    Today, reflection groups are gaining popularity as they allow you to discuss work situations objectively with colleagues to gather constructive feedback from discussions held. If you’re at home, it’s probably best to find and dedicate some quiet time to yourself. You can even opt to write in your own reflective journal. The best time may even come out of your mindless activities!

    Therefore, if you ever find yourself at home daydreaming when you’re browsing through social media or binging on Netflix, why not use that time more wisely instead and spare yourself a couple of minutes of reflection? Besides contributing to your personal development, you’ll also feel much better about yourself for being a sloth.

    Conclusion

    The need for growth and development is a fundamental human need, and you should now have all the information you need to tick that checkbox with reflective practice.

    Reflecting on your life will not only satisfy your spiritual needs, but as you keep learning, uncovering, and influencing your underlying thought processes, you are also always one step closer to unlocking your fullest potential as a human being.

    So, what are you waiting for? Are you ready to become a reflective practitioner?

    Featured photo credit: Marcos Paulo Prado via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Wikipedia: Reflective Practice
    [2] EssaywritingserviceUK: Borton’s Model of Reflection
    [3] University of Edinburgh: Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle

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    Mathieu Ganado

    FitYoga Instructor, Blogger and Wellness Business Owner

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    Last Updated on April 19, 2021

    30 Essential Core Values for Living the Life You Want

    30 Essential Core Values for Living the Life You Want

    The weather will always change. Technology will always change. Trends will always change. We will always change.

    In a world that is constantly evolving and taking new forms, it can be somewhat overwhelming trying to make sense of this thing called life.

    One of the things that rarely changes in this world though and what can provide a guiding light for you throughout your life is your core values. This article will provide you with a core values list of 30 incredible values to adopt and use when all else seems to be changing.

    What Are Core Values?

    Core values are principles or beliefs that you hold most dear and that are of central importance in your life. When everything around you is changing, when the world is difficult to understand, and when you are riding up and down the emotion rollercoaster, your core values will always be there for you.

    Why Are Core Values Important?

    Core values are important because they act like a compass to help you lead the amazing life that you want, no matter where you find yourself in this world.

    Not only that, having the right core values can improve your decision-making, your productivity, your achievements and perhaps most importantly, your ability to love and be loved. They’re kind of a big deal. And it isn’t just us saying this, studies[1] have shown core values to have a whole host of other benefits.

    30 Best Core Values to Live by

    You might already have a few core values in mind or in your heart which is great. If you need some more ideas or haven’t really thought about your core values until now, here are our 30 favourite core values that you can adopt right now.

    1. Acceptance

    The ability to accept what you can control and what you can’t control. Being able to understand that on some days you are the hammer, and other days you are the nail. With acceptance as a core value, you can build either way and be happy while doing it.

    2. Adaptability

    Life is going to throw you curve ball after curve ball and if you aren’t ready for them, you are going to strikeout. Your life and the life of those you surround yourself with are far too complex to confine yourself to one mould.

    Be adaptable and ready and willing to change when you need to.

    3. Awareness

    Awareness is one of the best core values that you can adopt. Period. Awareness means paying attention to yourself, to others, to the world around you, to emotions, to situations. It means being able to see everyone and everything clearly – most importantly yourself.

    4. Balance

    There are going to be times when you need to sprint in life, and other times when you are going to need to slow down. The yin and the yang.

    Balance is one of the most important core values in many ancient cultures because it reflects nature for what it truly is: perfectly balanced and able to bend, rather than break.

    5. Calmness

    As well as being a sublime state of mind, many people forget that calm is a simple decision to make.

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    You can be calm in any situation should you allow yourself to be. No amount of angry drivers, long queues or frustrating technology can penetrate you when you adopt calmness as a core value.

    6. Community

    Every one of us is a social creature, whether we believe it or not, and community has been a key core value for us as a species for thousands of years.

    We are hard-wired to socialize; to eat, drink, gossip, laugh, tell stories, share ideas, give and receive amongst ourselves. Community also enhances the effect of other core values on this list, such as creativity.[2]

    7. Compassion

    Compassion is taking the time to understand the suffering of others and hopefully, being able to do something about it. There is a lot of struggle and suffering that can be alleviated in the world; with a core value like compassion you might be able to do help your fellow humans in some meaningful way.

    8. Creativity

    With technology taking most of the administrative jobs, creative people are going to be leading us into the future.

    Someone who cherishes creativity is able to think up new and big ideas, see things that other people can’t and see the world around them through their own lens, not somebody else’s.

    9. Discipline

    Discipline will lead you to the life that you want, should you adopt it as a core value.

    “Discipline Equals Freedom” is a term popularised by ex-Navy Seal Jocko Willink, and what it means is that if you can be disciplined in the right things, you will be free in the right things too.

    Discipline to workout means more freedom in your body as you age. Discipline to save means more freedom with your time and money in the long-term. And so it goes…

    10. Empathy

    There is perhaps no greater value on this list that will connect you deeper to not just the closest people in your life but to complete strangers too.

    Practising empathy requires the understanding that other people have a nagging voice in their own head, just like you do. That they have a worldview different to yours based on their experiences. And that’s ok. It’s not easy to adopt empathy as a core value, but it is certainly worth it.

    11. Freedom

    Freedom comes in many forms and that is why it is one of the ultimate core values to have. The freedom to choose, freedom to speak, freedom to live on your own terms, freedom to love and be loved.

    If freedom becomes a core value of yours, watch how your life changes for the better.

    12. Gratitude

    Gratitude provides a powerful perspective shift whenever you feel yourself get into a rut.

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    You can become grateful for the big things like having shelter, food and great people in your life. You can also become grateful for the small things like the cup of coffee that you just drank or the soft sheets on your bed.

    13. Happiness

    Happiness is a powerful core value and is not just restricted to your own happiness but also friends and family.

    When happiness guides your decision-making rather than superficial things like money and status, you will find yourself in a much more satisfying position than if you chase other people’s idea of happiness.

    14. Health

    They say that a healthy man has a lot of dreams and wishes whereas a sick man only has one – to be able to get out of bed.

    Health is the precursor to every other core value on this list; if you don’t have your health, you can’t do much else until you do. Because of this, health has to be a core value in your life.

    15. Humility

    Humility

    is the antidote to arrogance and selfishness and is a value to adopt if you want to keep your feet firmly on the ground. It is said that you are never as good or as bad as people say you are.

    Humility recognizes this and keeps you moving towards your goal, no matter what anyone else says.

    16. Innovation

    The act of innovation involves taking one existing thing and making it better. Although images of whacky car designs and complicated technology can spring to mind when thinking about innovation, it doesn’t have to be that grandiose.

    Simply seeing something small and making it better in your own life is enough to make a world of difference.

    17. Knowledge

    Knowledge is power. Not power in the 14th-century medieval banker-sense but in the power to change your own life-sense.

    Knowledge about yourself, others and the world allows you to understand everything that you see a bit better. When you see things for what they are, you can act accordingly and get to where you want to be.

    18. Leadership

    It take guts, determination, confidence and humility to lead. All of these qualities are both rare and admirable and are the reason why leadership is such an excellent core value.

    The future is dark and unknown but also full of hidden treasures. We need someone to lead us, will it be you?

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    19. Love

    It can be argued that all of the core values on this list can be tied together by the one, all-encompassing value of Love.

    When you value love deeply and try to show it in everything that you do, you make your world and the world of others a much better place.

    20. Moderation

    Forget this diet, that diet, eating there, eating then, working out before coffee or always in the afternoon. It’s all noise that works for some people some of the time – moderation is the key.

    Not acting in moderation can also have some damaging consequences, especially for your health.[3] What works well for all people is everything in moderation.

    Of course, life should be fun too so even ‘everything in moderation’, should be in moderation.

    21. Peace

    Peace is another core value that takes years of practice to perfect. However, its rewards are boundless with both the journey and destination full of rewards.

    Peace enables clear decision-making, freedom in thoughts and actions as well as providing a deep understanding of the special life that you live.

    22. Purpose

    Purpose can be doubled up with ‘meaning’ as these are two values that provide the drive in any endeavour that you might pursue.

    Purpose is what gets you out of bed every morning, it is why you sacrifice what you sacrifice and often entails something bigger than yourself. If you don’t have a purpose, it is unlikely that you will find much meaning in your life.

    23. Responsibility

    Nobody likes having to take the dog on a walk, having to clean the dishes or do things that they are reluctantly responsible for. However, responsibility can actually be an awesome way to add meaning and value to your life.

    When other people depend on you and you fulfil your role as provider, not only are they better off but you get the satisfaction that comes along with it too.

    24. Service

    Similar to the responsibility point above, when you adopt service as a core value, you will have very little time to wallow in any self-pity, anxiety or existential angst because you will be busy making the world a better place.

    Funnily enough, by serving others, many people find that they themselves are internally served with feelings of satisfaction and contentment.

    25. Spirituality

    Of course, there is the importance of physical health, mental health and emotional health, but spiritual health is just as important.

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    Spirituality has nothing to do with religion, it simply means taking the time to listen to your body, to watch your thoughts, to connect with and appreciate the world and the universe that you find yourself in.

    26. Trust

    Trust is a core value on this list because it requires many other difficult skills that also help to develop you as a person.

    To be able to trust and be trusted, you need strong relationships, an ounce of risk, a healthy dose of vulnerability and a smidge of humility. All of this creates a recipe for a very positive life with trust at the centre.

    27. Understanding

    Understanding comes from a place of acceptance of what is, not what should be or could be. It is the ability to recognise someone else’s viewpoint without trying to change it. It is learning that it is useless to fight against the way the world is and other people are, and to learn to dance with them instead.

    28. Wealth

    Not in the monetary sense but in the ‘having everything that you need sense’. Someone who is truly wealthy possesses great relationships, plenty of freedom, a life filled with joy as well as many of the other values on this list.

    Adopt wealth as a core value and it will act as a magnet to other incredible things.

    29. Wisdom

    Contrary to popular belief, wisdom does not come with age but rather, experience. There are many young people with more wisdom than the oldest people that you know. What makes someone wise is their ability to see broadly and clearly, to use good judgement and to be decisive when necessary.

    Wisdom is something that we all should seek.

    30. Wonder

    The final value on this list is wonder and it is the ideal place to finish.

    Wonder is thinking about the possibility of what comes next, dreaming about how you and things could be better, pushing your own boundaries and what you think you are capable of each day.

    Wonder is practical dreaming, and you should start right away.

    Final Thoughts

    Now you have a good idea of some of the core values that you can adopt, it’s time to not only decide which ones you like the best but also integrate and use them in your daily life.

    Core values are designed to guide your decisions in your most difficult moments. Now you have everything you need to go and live the life that you want to live!

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    Featured photo credit: AndriyKo Podilnyk via unsplash.com

    Reference

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