It has been said that we are the most over-informed, under-reflected generation.
- Our minds and senses are constantly assaulted with new information.
- We are busier than ever.
- We put high value in our Western society on momentum and drive, and less on stillness and contemplation.
- We put little value on reflection.
As a result, we have more anxiety and depression than we have ever have before. Many of us, including myself in the past, have had no idea how to process our emotions, understand why we feel, act or react the way we do. Many of us have little understanding of ourselves and go through life as if on autopilot. Unaware of how our emotions, actions, and reactions are affecting us and those around us. Even while we lack this self-awareness, clarity and focus, we continue to keep driving ahead. In many ways we live in a society that idolises momentum.
Many of us get to the place where we have completely and utterly forgotten why we are doing what we are doing in the first place. Many of us are trapped making the same mistakes over and over again, and not even realising it. Many of us get addicted to business and being still is uncomfortable and foreign.
Why? Because we don’t take time to slow down. We have stopped valuing it. We don’t know what it is like to reflect. To reassess. To be still. To contemplate. To articulate in our minds where we went wrong, or right and how we can grow from things that happen in the day.
Robin Sharma is a bestselling author and personal coach to billionaires, professional sports superstars and leaders around the world. He is one of the world’s top leadership and personal optimisation advisers. He talks about how billionaires, leaders from huge enterprises, or government and super producers from around the globe that he works with, have one thing in common.
Acute levels of focus and clarity
This he says comes from them prioritising time to meditate, to take time, to think and reflect. These highly effective people, actively creative margin in their lives to do this on a daily basis.
We live in a world where a lot of people are living distracted. I was definitely one of those people.
Robin says it simply; “We are busy being busy.” There is little time or value placed on reflection. Yet, slowing things down, and thinking is one of the most valuable things you can do. For as he puts it,
“what is the good of conquering ‘mountains’ when at the end of your life you realise you have conquered the wrong one.”
I understand this so deeply. By nature, I am an achiever. I love productivity. I love to be busy and full of purpose. While there is nothing wrong with that, the problem is that in the past I placed little value on reflection. In fact, reflection and contemplation seemed like a waste of time to me. I would tell myself I was too busy. As a result, I would rarely give myself time and space to process emotions and I was so distracted being ‘busy’ and productive that I didn’t take time to stop, breath and reassess if what I was doing was what I was passionate about.
I would rarely pause long enough to re-evaluate the direction I was going or the decisions I had made the day before. The way I had reacted emotionally to certain situations or circumstances at work or at home or within my relationships. Reflection was not a daily, weekly or even a monthly habit for me.
Ten years later, and close to a breakdown I found myself anxious, exhausted, and very unhappy with the person I had become and the direction with which I was going. I wonder now what would have happened had I given myself intentional time to reflect think and write each day. To regain focus, clarity, self-understanding and realignment.
Learning to take time to reflect
Taking time every day to sit in deep thought, and journal is so powerful I cannot emphasise this enough. It doesn’t even have to be a long time. Sometimes I only spend 10-15 minutes doing this. Sometimes I spend longer. Doing it consistently every day is the key.
The process of articulating my thoughts, ideas and deepest feelings onto a page is so powerful that it is something many of the most successful celebrated leaders and great minds of our times do religiously. It allows clarity and focus. It gives you time to realign and redefine yourself. To reflect on the day passed. To actually give yourself time to process anything you learned. On how you reacted to certain situations or people. It makes you acutely self-aware. It gives you time to reflect everyday on whether you are adding value to the world. Whether or not you are serving the people around you.
Now that I do this, I can’t imagine life without it.
The amount of times that it has allowed me to understand why I am feeling a certain way, why I acted a certain way and allowed me to make some realignments in myself and my pursuits daily. Cumulatively the continual realignment, the space to reassess, gives me clarity and focus with where I am going and why. Can you imagine the cumulative effect of this over a few years? Over a decade? Over a lifetime?
If only I had learned this a decade ago. Perhaps you will choose to journal. Perhaps you may choose to sit in deep thought. It is up to you.
Either way something that has helped me is to ask myself the same reflective questions everyday.
Here are three things to ask:
What is one thing that happened today that I could grow from? What did I do well? What would I do differently next time?
How did I add value to the people around me today? Did I go out of my way to add joy to someone with no agenda?
What are three things I have to be grateful for today?
Dr Christine Greenwood
Reign in Life
Wink: Here is a small example of how journaling and reflection has helped me. I do have some Spanish blood (my grandfather on my mother’s side) and so I am given to have a hot temper. One day (not very long ago) Greenie and I had a big rumble where I completely lost control of my emotions and said the most regrettable things. I remember fighting in a haze of anger and frustration. After spending the whole day angry at Mark, justifying myself to God, and feeling lonely and self-righteous at the same time, I finally surrendered. I went for a big walk, talked to God, got perspective, humbled myself and made up with Greenie at the end of the day (8 hours later).
At my reflection time that day I reflected on what I had learned in our fight. What I could grow from and what I would differently next time. I noticed in myself, that I have this turning point whenever I get into an argument with Greenie. It is like where my emotions reach a trigger point and if I reach that point, I lose all sense of rationality and reason. I think, speak and act from emotions. So I learned if I find myself reaching a crescendo to that space to avoid reaching that trigger point of no return, I have to to stop and check myself emotionally before I continue. I determined to do it differently next time.
It didn’t take long for opportunity to present itself! Two days later I was in another heated rumble with my husband. This time, as my emotions were once again spiralling to that crescendo, I stopped, checked myself. I told Mark I needed a few minutes to recheck my emotions before we continued. When we spoke again I was calm, I had mastered my emotions, was able to articulate what I was feeling and why, and listen to understand his point of view.
This works not only with relationships, but with decisions through the day, and even things that triumphs and things that have gone well. There are always things, I find that I can reflect on learn from, grow from and develop from. Reflection and Journaling was a huge tool I used when reframing my thoughts on body image, reforming healthier habits and dealing with changes in my body. Picking just one thing every day to learn from, makes the self-reflection achievable and now even something I look forward to at the end of the day.
P.S. What is your personal Growth Plan?