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.

That Little Dash There In-Between

Bobblehead DollGarth Brooks sings a song called “Pushing up Daisies,” and a lyric is the title of today’s article.  On a headstone, there are two dates; we all know what those dates mean, but it is the dash I am focused upon today, and it is the dash that always captures my attention when I visit a cemetery.  Sure, knowing the birth and death dates are interesting, but I always want to talk to the headstone owner about the dash!

One of my biggest regrets is not knowing my grandparents as an adult.  My maternal grandfather fought in WWII, serving on a battlewagon in the Pacific Fleet.  He was a journal writer and chronicled his journeys.  I do not have access to his writings, and this hurts!  My maternal grandfather was hard-working; he left a legacy of small business ownership, franchise development, and self-sufficiency.  He could polish any metal until it was baby smooth and brilliant!

My maternal grandmother is why I respect strong women in story and encourage women to be the main characters in their lives.  A fighter with a Victorian heart of gold, my maternal grandmother was priceless and is well missed!  Plus, she had the best recipes for bread and cookies, pies, and cakes.  Of all the things I wish I had been able to copy and glean, her recipes for oatmeal butterscotch cookies and spiced canned pears top the list!Individual Headstone Designs | Pacific Coast Memorials

My paternal grandfather was a journeyman electrician; he was a wizard with tools and his hands.  He collected rocks, built a home for his wife and family that still stands and holds family.  He had a forge, a woodworking shop, and a couple of guns passed down to my father that won’t pass down any further.  Beyond a suspicion that he served in WWI, not much is known about my paternal grandfather beyond these few scraps.

Memorial Day WallpapersMy paternal grandmother raised two kids after her husband suffered a stroke; she was a nurse and served in this capacity long after she should have retired because she loved her patients and her family.  She had strength and a down-home kindness that I will never forget.  My paternal grandmother is the only reason I walked at High School graduation; I wanted her to enjoy seeing the graduation of one of the grand-kids.

I have uncles and aunts I respect and admire.  I have a couple of uncles I wish I could wallop with a stick and provide some corrective behavior to as well.  I have family scattered across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the US Military as far as they can spread.  But I know as little about them as they know about me, and that dash in-between is essentially a mystery.  Oh, how cool it would be to sit down and tell our “dash” stories.Tombstone, Arizona

My mother-in-law was an incredible fighter!  A bare-knuckle, two-fisted, swinging for the moon kind of gal from the day she was born to the day she died.  I felt privileged to get to know her and some of her story, and let me tell you; her “little dash” was full of living, adventure, danger, intrigue, and daring!  That woman had steel in her spine, brass in her veins, and took no bull from anyone.  What a lady!

My wife’s uncle fought in every battle across the Pacific as a Navy Seabee.  He arrived at Pearl Harbor on 08 December 1941 and walked across every island battle to the last bombs dropping on Japan.  He built runways, roads, houses, harbor facilities and faced every single engagement.  I know practically nothing about the “little dash there in-between” for him.  I know his wife was a sweetheart, but I know even less about her story and their collective story.  Sad days when they departed this mortal coil, for I wished like mad, I could have learned more about their dash!

Yet, for all I know about these people, I know very little about that dash.  I know more about President Abraham Lincoln and his dash in-between than I do about my grandparents, and this is frustrating.  Worse, I know more about Garth Brooks, a stranger, than I do about my own parent’s dash in-between, and this is not frustrating, given the makeup of my family.  Consider with me people you respect; what do you know of their “little dash there in-between.”Photos of the Korean War Veterans Memorial

My wife is a Victorian lady of the highest caliber.  Today is her birthday.  She has an incredible dash in-between, and I have had the privilege of walking beside her for the better part of 30+ years.  Yet, I would be a fool to claim I know her entire “dash in-between.”  I could not even claim to know a tenth of the 30+ years we have been together.  Do you know what is maddening?  She thinks her writing, journals, and so forth are not very interesting, and nobody will want to read them.  This observation has led me to learn a couple of pieces of wisdom that I pass along for your consideration.

      1. Always be willing to learn – Whether it is learning more about people, places, things, countries, topics, languages, etc., does not matter—the journey of learning matters. Engage and travel!
      2. When you want to really get to know a person, go to work on a task with them – I sweated alongside some Amish in Ohio on a roofing project at the State Fair Grounds. First, I froze alongside them through January and February, and then we sweat through March, April, May, and June.  It never ceases to amaze me what I could learn while we worked.
      3. Know your own dash in-between – Journal, blog, do something to record your dash in-between. Review your own story often.  You might surprise yourself at what you have accomplished.
      4. Be the influence that is felt – There is a line in Garth Brooks’ song, “My mother died, but somehow she keeps living, she’ll never cease to amaze me.” I have met people who are still influencing me long after we have lost touch.  Be that person, be the influence felt across miles, years, and choose to be the positive force for good.  However, that means to you!
      5. Leave a heritage in that dash in-between – Not just papers, bills, a will, a journal or two, but a heritage. What are you known for?  What characteristic will someone say you embody and live to the absolute fullest?  What single attribute will you pass on to your progeny, friends, and colleagues when the dates are carved in your stone?

Exclamation MarkBefore your stone is carved, your remains are laid to rest, and your final resting place is occupied; make sure to fill that little dash in-between to the brim and to overflow.  Make sure you record your dash.  Pass along your dash; your future will appreciate your efforts!

© 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.