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Self-reflection as a tool for personal Growth.



The power to personally develop over time is inside of every one of us.


Understanding your contributions and engagement in different aspects of your life is essential to bring clarity to your learning, leading to your personal growth. How do you do that? With Self-reflection.


What is self-reflection?


Self-reflection is an excellent free tool we can use every time we want.

Self-reflection allows you to look back as an observer of your life and reflect on what happened, how it happened, why it happened, and what you can learn from that. In other words, self-reflection is a way to assess yourself. This ability to be your own viewer, reflect, and acknowledge your successes and mistakes, creates insights and future learning pathways.

It is like being a spectator at the cinema, and the film is a slice of your life's story. You see the movie carefully and evaluate what that brings to you if there's a lesson to be learned or appreciated.


For most of us, life lessons don't happen at the moment. Life lessons are apprehended when we take time to look back and self-reflect.


Self-reflection can be painful and difficult sometimes, as it allows us to sit with discomfort while facing our missteps, our false assumptions about a situation or someone, our fears or disappointments. That's all common and normal. We are all imperfect beings. Please, give the space to open up for yourself and sit with those feelings, witnessing them with self-compassion, without trying to fix or ruminate about them. The intention here is to replicate in our mind those rough moments, not with an overcritical or a hubris view, but being curious about our mistakes and investigate how we can turn them into gifts and opportunities in the context of personal learning.


How can self-reflection shape your personal growth?


The high impact of self-reflection in your personal growth comes from:


  1. Creating Learning Pathways.

  2. Challenging your beliefs, assumptions, and behavior.

  3. Giving meaning to your decisions, better planning, and subsequent higher self-efficacy.

  4. Social Component:

-Impact on yourself and others

-Self-care. You know where you want to be in your life.

-Self-trust and being grateful.

5. Celebrating!



Let’s explore:


1. Creating Learning Pathways.


Self-reflection is a critical component of learning.

A careful and curious examination of a specific moment of your life helps you to acknowledge missteps or mistakes, getting to the bottom of the topic in question.

It takes your responsibility into account in a situation's outcome, facilitating the internalization of important information. You learn what you might need to change, how you want to do it, and why you want to do it. You can then detect a similar life's circumstance in the future, avoiding the same mistake to occur again.

The insights that self-reflection brings promotes change and individual growth. It increases knowledge and enhances your ability to search, settle, and interconnect new personal skills.


2. Challenging your beliefs, assumptions, and behavior.


When you take time to self-reflect, questioning the reason behind a specific behavior gives you awareness of your beliefs and assumptions. Challenging our established patterns of thinking opens your mindset towards new perspectives and strategies to handle certain things in your life.

The capacity to alter existing life structures is a skill that lets us create our life, not by standing in a stagnated or stationary ground, but by exploring a dynamic and vast universe where so many things are possible. Self-reflection promotes thinking outside of the box. You can shoot to the stars instead of looking at your feet.


3. Giving meaning to your decisions, better planning, and subsequent higher self-efficacy.


Mindful self-reflection leads you to select your actions with more consciousness.

When you use this practice to explore why you want to change something in your life, you know your intentions. You become conscious of your strengths, interconnecting new understandings with previous knowledge. Your insights give you a more comprehensive range of choices and strategies to explore. Your internal resources and tools are broader, assisting your planning proficiently. Your decision-making skill is more efficient and meaningful. You lead your life by deliberately deciding what you want to do.


4. Social Component:


Here I would like to emphasize three aspects:


a. Impact on yourself and others.


An outcome of the practice of self-reflection is our capability to change our impact on others positively. For instance, if I realize I am overcritical towards a person, I can self-reflect about this situation and choose to be more assertive in my speech next time. My impact will be enormous as the person will feel more respected and self-confident. On the other hand, if I realize that someone is smashing me with its behavior, I can learn to introduce boundaries and feel more freedom and self-trust after self-reflection.


b. Self-care. You know where you want to be in your life.


This practice is a form of self-care as you promote reconnection to your authentic identity. It takes care and nurtures your mind and heart as you have a deeper understanding of where you are in your life. You can get a clear sense of where you're going. It gives you an intentional personal direction in your life.


c. Self-trust and being grateful.


The outcome here is profound as you can learn to spot and acknowledge things to be grateful. You feel good, more confident, and quite significantly self-connected. You can catalyze your personal development as you, over time, believe more and more that your abilities can undoubtedly flourish. You will encourage and be delighted with your unique growth mindset.


5. Celebrating!


Let's celebrate! Let's self-reflect and be consciously aware of your excellent and wise skills, decisions, actions, behavior in all aspects of your life! Small and big! All of them are important, and the positive influence towards you and others is undoubtedly a reason for joy.

Take a moment and appreciate the substantial value of your accomplishments now! You deserve that. Kudos to you!



Action Changes Things.



Let’s turn the lens to you. I invite you to reflect on a specific life situation. Choose an area you want to change but not related to trauma or similar.

Here I present one way of practicing self-reflection. Please test it out and see how it works for you.


The practice:

From Self-reflection to Action Planning.


This practice explores the following steps:


1. Start with a Tranquil Mind

2. Consider the moment you selected: What happened?

3. Consider the impact of feelings and thoughts.

4. The reasons behind: Explore the Why.

5. What really happened? Evaluation and analysis.

6. What can you learn? Conclusion.

7. Action Plan.


Let’s start:


1. Start with a Tranquil Mind.


Please, set aside some time and space where you can let go.

Take some deep breaths to quiet your mind. You can as well begin with a short meditation if you would like to.



2. Consider the moment you selected: What happened?


Once you feel calm and quiet, direct your focus inward.

Take enough emotional distance to feel like an outsider, an observer, or spectator.

Think about the moment you want to explore.

Please consider what happened. Your feelings and conclusions will come later.

Here you can self-reflect using the following options:


-You can visualize the moment in detail

-You can describe the situation by writing what happened

-In conversation with yourself


You may ask yourself:

-When and where did it happen?

-Who was present?

-What did you and the other people do or say?

-Why were you there?

-What happened?

-What was the outcome of the situation?



3. Consider the impact of feelings and thoughts.


Explore the feelings and thoughts.

Here you may consider asking yourself the following questions:


-What impressions arise as you remember that moment?

-Before and during the situation:

What did you feel?

What do you think the others were feeling?

What did you think?


-What do you think now?

-What do you feel now?



4. The reasons behind:

Explore the Why.


At this stage, let's go more in-depth, with an open mind, and ask yourself:


-Why did I felt, thought, and do/say those things at that moment?



5. What really happened?

Evaluation and analysis.


Here some helpful questions are:


-What went well? Why things went well?

-What didn't go well? Why didn't things go well?

-What was your contribution? What kind of contribution was it?



6. What can you learn? Conclusion.


In the previous steps, you gathered information, evaluated, and analyzed that specific moment in your life.

Now, let's promote learning pathways.


Some possible interrogations are:


-What did I learn from this situation?

-What else could I have done differently?

-What skills can I use next time to handle this situation better?



7. Action Plan.


At this step, you anticipate a similar situation by preparing yourself for it.

Try to step back from the situation and ask yourself:

-If I had to live the same situation again:

-What would I do differently?

-How could I have done better?

-How can I develop the new skills I need?

-How can I remember to act differently next time?




The practice of self-reflection takes time to implement in our lives. You can decide to exercise it from time to time or regularly schedule it in your calendar. Over time it will be easier to self-reflect and will become a tool for change.


Please, bring gentleness towards yourself when you self-reflect.


The goal is not to judge yourself on your choices and engage in negative talk, as this brings limits and blocks the entire process. You can send the self and harsh criticism to be swallowed by a black hole while you choose to see the vast sea of bright choices.


The intention is to use kindness and awareness while observing your choices, reflecting on them, learning, and deciding the suitable changes you find appropriate for you.
That's the path from self-reflection to dynamic change.
That's how you can activate your personal growth.


Image Source: David Marcu

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