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The Power of Self-Reflection: 10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself

The Power of Self-Reflection: 10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself

To find yourself, lost and without purpose, wondering how you ended up where you are, is a scary thought. If you are not careful, not mindfully aware of where you are going, you could end up somewhere far from where you want to be. These are 10 helpful questions that we each ought to ask ourselves on a frequent basis. The power of self-reflection can serve to keep you in check, to keep you focused on self-improvement and ensure that you are as fulfilled as possible.

1. Am I using my time wisely?

“Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

We all know time is precious. Our goal ought to be to use it in a way that isn’t counter-productive. For example, taking time to unwind and do nothing productive in particular could be beneficial for the mind and body. Finding yourself stuck in a job that offers a stable pay but fails to challenge you, make use of your skills, or provide some sense of value could be considered a substantial waste of time. Most of it is perception. The best way to evaluate this is to imagine yourself five or 10 years from now, looking back to where you are now, this could help you see what aspects in your life may be a waste of your time.

2. Am I taking anything for granted?

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your last misfortunes, of which all men have some.” – Charles Dickens

There are countless blessings around each of us. Even at our lowest lows we may have the support of family or friends, a roof over our head or skills that we ought to take pride in. We’re naturally forward-looking, which may blind us to our present circumstances. We ought to take a moment every now and again to look at what we have around us and be grateful.

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3. Am I employing a healthy perspective?

“Perspective is as simple as answering this question: If I had five months to live would I experience this problem differently?” – Shannon Alder

Whether or not we’re happy, doing what’s right, or if we are successful is all about perspective. We may have the world at our fingertips yet find ourselves utterly empty. We can grow to hate our jobs simply because of one co-worker whom we cannot agree with, or be devastated over a dissolving relationship that had been detrimental to our well-being in the first place. Sometimes we’re so zoomed in on various issues that, when we step back or hear an outside perspective, we can view the issue in a completely different light. Try to adopt new perspectives when possible; a glass-half-full approach can mean a world of difference in regards to certain matters.

4. Am I living true to myself?

“A lot of the conflict you have in your life exists simply because you’re not living in alignment; you’re not be being true to yourself.” – Steve Maraboli

This may take years to fully discover, with many mistakes along the way, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. It’s vital to figure out whether or not we’re deceiving ourselves, leading a life that is far from what we want it to be. We have complete control over what we do, but without consciously evaluating our actions and circumstances every now and again, we can let things spiral away–like the the corrupt politician or steroid-dependent athlete. Figure out what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. If you’re doing something that will cause you regret down the road, work yourself away from it.

5. Am I waking up in the morning ready to take on the day?

“Know that dreaming is a waste of sleeping time and energy if you don’t wake up to achieve them.” – Israelmore Ayivor

Or are you waking up with a sense of hopelessness? The first thought of the day is a massive indicator of your general level of happiness. We all have days that we don’t look forward to, but if you find yourself not wanting to get out of bed day after day, and if you know why that is, it’s time to take action.

6. Am I thinking negative thoughts before I fall asleep?

“Insomniacs know that there is something about the night. A darkness, an energy, a mystery that shrouds things. It hides things at the same time as it illuminates them. It is this thing that allows us to examine our thoughts in a way that we can’t during the day. It is this thing that brings truth and clarity.” – Courtney Cole

When we finally lay down to sleep is when we unplug from everything and finally achieve a measure of clarity, clarity that prompts reflection. Your last thoughts before falling asleep reveal a lot about what’s going on in your life. If they’re consistently negative, try to identify a pattern of what may be causing them and then seek to address the stressors.

7. Am I putting enough effort into my relationships?

“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” – J.K. Rowling

Over time, we can begin to take our relationships for granted. Flames die out, naturally, and novelty wears off. In consequence, this requires constant effort to allow the relationships to grow. Moving away from family, for instance, requires lots of effort to stay connected and stay close. If you don’t want to find yourself losing various individuals in your life, make sure that you’re dedicated towards maintaining your relationships.

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8. Am I taking care of myself physically?

“To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha

We have everything working against us as we get older–more work hours to put in, a family to take care off, decreased energy levels and a slowed metabolism, just to name a few. Our physical well-being can, in turn, be put on the back burner if we’re not aware. Keep an idea of where you want to be physically in the next few years and don’t let that image slip away from you.

9. Am I letting matters that are out of my control stress me out?

“The reason many people in our society are miserable, sick, and highly stressed is because of an unhealthy attachment to things they have no control over.” – Steve Maraboli

The biggest waste of effort we can make is to stress out about things that are outside of our realm of control. A completely unnecessary but inevitably common phenomenon that can ruin our days, our health, and our mental well-being. Make sure to continuously identify your stress factors and work towards eliminating any worries about things that you can’t control.

10. Am I achieving the goals that I’ve set for myself?

“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” – Rosa Luxemburg

This question is necessary to consider on a frequent basis. We all have a general vision of where we want to be in five or 10 years, but it’s a very obscure glimpse based around general accomplishments. PsychologyToday.com reports: “In life, people have many goals (e.g. exercise more, be a better spouse, save more money). However, goals often go unrealized because people lack self-awareness…Thus, to improve our chances of reaching our goals, we must remain aware of our current behavior.” It’s helpful to examine the visions of our future selves in close detail and break down everything that must be done in order to achieve them. Don’t solely focus on the where and what–account for the how.

Through frequent self-reflection, we can make sure that we’re on the right path. Lack of self-reflection can cause us to seem lost or without a purpose. Time flies by and without consciously evaluating our circumstances, we can let so many aspects of our lives slip away: our health, our relationships, our goals. It’s necessary for us to unplug for a few minutes every now and again, when possible, and address a variety of the questions, including those listed above.

“Whether it’s Buddhists engaging in meditation, alcoholics at AA meetings, or philosophers of the Enlightenment studying the texts of Immanuel Kant, being aware of ourselves is an essential step in self-improvement.” – Allen R. McConnell, www.psychologytoday.com

Featured photo credit: rearviewmirrow/greyerbab via mrg.bz

More by this author

Michael Woronko

Michael shares about tips on self-development and happiness on Lifehack.

What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People The Power of Self-Reflection: 10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself 4 Ways To Psychologically Manipulate Someone Why Experiencing Failure Is Necessary Before Becoming Successful Addiction To Selfies: A Mental Disorder?

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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