Tips for Self-Refection

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1One of the most helpful tips provided to me in improving my mental health has been to engage in self-reflection.  However, the tip did not come with any other instruction than to engage in self-reflection.  Thus, I provide the following for those who are like me who need a little more than simply being told to “self-reflect more.”  Please note, self-reflection is not complicated, does not require any special tools, and is only contingent upon starting.  The following is a practical guide to helping to spur starting!  It’s that Missouri mindset, I just cannot get away from it!

Self-reflection can be guided and unguided.  For the novice, guided self-reflection is a good place to begin to learn to self-reflect and grow into unguided self-reflection.  Some people will consider self-reflection meditation, and while I fully admit meditation and self-reflection have many similarities, they are different.  Others try to inject religious overtones into self-reflection, and I fully admit self-reflection is used in many religions across the globe to improve worship services; I am not venturing into the religious aspects of religious self-reflection.

If you would like to explore the topics of meditation and religious self-reflection, I know several good resources; don’t hesitate to get in touch with me outside this forum for those resources.

Guided Self-Reflection

Deep PoetryGuided self-reflection is as simple as journaling your thoughts on a specific topic.  Yes, it is that simple.  There is nothing complicated or crazy, no gurus, no chanting (unless you want to), simply writing down your thoughts on a single topic.  The idea is to focus your mind on sticking to a single topic and write.  I find pen and paper the most challenging medium and one that I cannot reliably, methodically, and consistently adhere to, so I use a keyboard and keep a journal in MS Word.

At the beginning of guided self-reflection, C. S. Lewis 365-Journal Topics was a book I picked up, and it helped inspire journal topics to consider.  Thus, the guided aspect of journaling, using the thoughts of others to marshal your thoughts and write them down.  Making your thoughts known is vital to better understanding you.  Please note, the blank page is intimidating; thus, novice self-reflection is enhanced with motivating forces of religious texts, quotes, jokes, memes, political feelings, news stories, etc.  All of which is fodder for getting the thoughts in your head onto paper for later review.

Unguided Self-Reflection

Free-flow writing, I unguided self-reflection and is where no longer is the blank page intimidating.  More to the point, unguided self-reflection occurs where the mind enters a period of peace or tranquility, recognized from journaling and reflects upon recent events surrounding you throughout the day, cataloging these events for later dissemination and discussion in your journal.  The advanced stage of unguided self-reflection occurs at different times and seasons for different people.  Some people go in cycles between guided and unguided self-reflection due to the chaos in their lives.  Other people move rapidly into unguided self-reflection and never return to guided self-reflection.  Some people stay in guided self-reflection; there is no right or wrong to self-reflection!

Tips to Self-Reflection

        1. Start!
        2. Find what works, and stick to it!
        3. Pick a time that works.
        4. Use what you have.
        5. Be you! – A friend keeps buying new technology, new note pads, new books, new etc., and never uses them. New isn’t them.

Be you!  Be real!  If you find yourself journaling on a paper bag with lots of doodles, keep the paper bag, and get more of them.  That is real self-reflection to you!

Some random thoughts on self-reflection.

In defense of writing with pen and paper - The WriterA friend from high school journaled (self-reflected) through their art.  Words could never come, but doodles and pictures were easy.  Each day their art was either beautiful or terrible, but always dramatic and eye-catching.  Most people learned to look at the book for the art before engaging in speech.  At the end of the assignment, the teacher freaked out trying to score the assignments for my friend; the art was expressive to the point that you could relate and feel what was felt that day.  I have never forgotten that art or its impact.

Simon Sinek wrote the book “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” self-reflection helps you to know your “why” to attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and so much more.  While I am not here to help Mr. Sinek sell more books, if you want a great resource to begin guided self-reflection, I do recommend this book.  You need to know your why.  Not knowing your why makes life more challenging, and your mind is easier to be manipulated by every wind of modern influence.  Knowing your why doesn’t necessarily make life easier, but it makes life easier to understand.  Understanding breeds compassion, empathy and allows you the freedom to make better choices.

10+ Best Sketch Drawing Ideas | Free & Premium TemplatesGeil Browning, Ph.D., in discussing reflective learning, talks about self-reflection and learning, providing counsel and essential guidance.  “Reflection is a deeper form of learning that allows us to retain every aspect of any experience, be it personal or professional — why something took place, what the impact was, whether it should happen again — as opposed to just remembering that it happened. It’s about tapping into every aspect of the experience, clarifying our thinking, and honing in on what matters to us.”  Practicing self-reflection takes discipline and intentionality. It requires pressing pause on the chaos of life and simply taking the time to think and ponder about life and the events of daily living, which is not easy for many people to do. But it’s a precious practice.

        1. “The journey into self-love and self-acceptance must begin with self-examination… until you take the journey of self-reflection, it is almost impossible to grow or learn in life.” – Iyanla Vanzant
        2. “What we perceive about ourselves is greatly a reflection of how we will end up living our lives.” – Stephen Richards
        3. “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” – Carl Jung25 Beautiful Rose Drawings and Paintings for your inspiration
        4. “It is always our self that we find at the end of the journey. The sooner we face that self, the better.” – Ella Maillart
        5. “I visualize where I wanted to be, what kind of player I wanted to become. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there.” – Michael Jordan
        6. “The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.” – William Makepeace Thackeray
        7. “Our self-image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become.” —Maxwell Maltz
        8. “One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your sense of self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else.” —K.L. Toth
        9. “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.” —Marcus GarveyBeauty will save, Viola, Beauty in everything
        10. “Self-awareness gives you the capacity to learn from your mistakes as well as your successes.” —Lawrence Bossidy
        11. ”The promises of this world are, for the most part, vain phantoms; and to confide in one’s self, and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course.” —Michel Angelo
        12. “You cannot have a meaningful life without having self-reflection.” —Oprah Winfrey
        13. “Honest self-reflection opens your mind to reprogramming, change, success, and freedom.” —Unknown
        14. ”Self-reflection is the school of wisdom.” – Baltasar Gracian
        15. “Doubt, not self-reflection, comes from a destructive energy, and when it rears its head, I talk to it like a lunatic.” —Gwyneth Paltrow
        16. “There is one art of which people should be masters – the art of reflection.” – Samuel Taylor ColeridgeArt journal spread "Who She Had Always Been"
        17. “Friendship with one’s self is all-important because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
        18. “Self-reflection entails asking yourself questions about your values, assessing your strengths and failures, thinking about your perceptions and interactions with others, and imagining where you want to take your life in the future.” – Robert L. Rosen
        19. “Emotions are there to enjoy life, but they are not used in self-reflection because they inhibit a proper reflection. They gunk us up.” – Frederick Lenz
        20. “Difficulty creates the opportunity for self-reflection and compassion.” – Suzan-Lori Parks
        21. “Self-reflection is the gateway to freedom. It also brings greater appreciation and enjoyment. We begin to enjoy spending time with our own minds, and we enjoy reflecting on our experience of the teachings. Like the sun emerging from behind the clouds.” – Dzigar Kongtrul RinpocheDecoArt - Mixed Media Blog - Project - Art Journaling the ...
        22. “It is great to be introspective; self-analysis can be useful, but only if it results in action.” —Joe Sacco (emphasis mine)
        23. “Your self-esteem won’t come from body parts. You need to step away from the mirror every once in a while and look for another reflection, like the one in the eyes of the people who love you and admire you.” – Stacy London
        24. “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 bitterest.” – Confucius
        25. “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” – Margaret J. Wheatley
        26. “Self-reflection is an important stage to diagnose, develop and strengthen your creativity.” —Pearl Zhu
        27. “The ultimate mystery is one’s own self.” —Sammy Davis
        28. “To realize the Self is to be still.” —Ramana Maharshi
        29. “The self is only that which it is in the process of becoming.” —Kirkegaard
        30. “Like water which can clearly mirror the sky and the trees only so long as its surface is undisturbed; the mind can only reflect the true image of the Self when it is tranquil and wholly relaxed.” —Indra Devi
        31. “Reflection is one of the most underused yet powerful tools for success.” – Richard Carlson
        32. “Reflection can transform something familiar.” – Diane L. DuntonReflections
        33. “We have so committed ourselves in different ways that we have hardly any time for self-reflection, to observe, to study.” —Jiddu Krishnamurti
        34. “Your greatest self has been waiting your whole life; don’t make it wait any longer.” —Dr. Steve Maraboli
        35. “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” – John Dewey

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Atheism: A Religion Ascending

Father Mulcahy 2The Daily Signal reported some news that tickled my irony bone this morning, and I had to share.  Harvard University, an Ivy League school begun by puritans, has hired Greg Epstein as Chief Chaplain.  From the Daily Signal report, we find the following reasoning for the new Chief Chaplain’s ascension:

A Harvard Crimson survey of the university’s 2019 class found that students were two times more likely to identify as agnostic or as an atheist than average 18-year-olds, The New York Times reported.  About 21.3% of the class said they were agnostic, and 16.6% said they were atheists.  About equal shares of the students said they were Protestant (17%) or Catholic (17.1%), 10.1% said they were Jewish, 2.5% said they were Muslim, 3% said they were Hindu, and 12% said they were “other.”

I make no broad-stroke generalizations based upon a report that has passed through The New York Times and The Daily Signal; however, it is interesting to note the data is a unique finding.  Now consider that atheists have begun holding meetings, singing hymns, hosting children’s meetings.  If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, atheists are flattering those they proclaim not to be.Father Mulcahy 5

President General George Washington made the following comment in his farewell address to the nation:

Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Returning to the axiom of flattery being found in imitation, then the appointment of a US Military Chaplain who is also an atheist is both a possibility and shortly a reality— bringing up some interesting questions for those atheists who continue to proclaim that atheism is not a religion.  More to the point, a military chaplain is required to deliver services in a host of different religious services.  How will that work for both the chaplain and the parishioners?  What about spiritual counseling?  Marriage counseling?  Other life and death style counseling chaplains are required to perform?Father Mulcahy 4

Having been a US Military Chaplains Assistant, who has fought for religious freedom for soldiers and the soldiers’ rights to worship how, where, or what they may, I find this discussion intriguing and interesting.  When his command was telling a Christian-Jewish Soldier that he had to choose which holidays he would be allowed to celebrate, my job was to help provide a voice of reason and history to aid the command in supporting the soldier and discover a compromise.  When two Wiccans wanted to hold a wedding, guess who got behind the happy couple to handle the administrative affairs?  When a soldier needed a chaplain but was uncomfortable talking to his own, guess who called the soldier a chaplain who was more comfortable to be around.

Knowledge Check!Religion and social standards, laws, and morals all cross and intertwine.  In the mixing, society builds a value system and a method of thinking and acting.  Here is the opportunity, do we learn and grow or do we denounce and castigate?  I have met good people among those calling themselves non-religionists.  I have met some grand and noble people among those who would call themselves religionists.  The opposite is also true; I have met some genuinely deplorable characters among both religionists and non-religionists.  It has been fun and exciting to meet truth seekers among the religionists and non-religionists and watch the conversations unfold regarding science, math, logic, psychology, and every form of human study.

Religion QuoteWhere freedom of religion is concerned, I believe The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints says it best in their tenth Article of Faith:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, and what they may.”

From my earliest days as a child, I have espoused similar beliefs.  I do not care how, what, or where you worship, what you worship, or when.  Provided your rights to worship, do not refuse another person their liberties to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, enjoy your faith.  I will even come along and observe occasionally.  I find the shift interesting as a social movement by Harvard, and I want to think that the move to ascend an atheist chaplain to Chief Chaplain is not a move with hidden purposes and political leanings.Religious Thought

I offer my genuine and heartfelt congratulations to Chaplain Epstein as he takes his new promotion at Harvard and look to see what develops over the coming years that brings more harmony amongst religionists and improves religious freedoms across America and the globe.  I would caution Harvard if this is a trick, many an honest person will be angry when the truth reveals hidden agendas, and I hope the caution is not needed.  I do look forward to the day when Wiccans and other “non-traditional religions” obtain military chaplains.  Not because it would cause problems, but because it would reflect truth in religious freedoms we espouse in the US Constitution.  If a Muslim Chaplain can serve harmoniously with a Baptist Chaplain and a Jewish Chaplain in the US Military, I see no problems with Atheists and Wiccans joining their ranks.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.