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.

Let’s Stop Being Afraid of Language – Communication and Freedom Lessons From Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Broken RobotCommunication presentation is the careful and concise logic behind selecting words to communicate an idea—the rules of grammar and punctuation aid in communicating correctly to enhance the sense and communicate the vision.  Language is a grand and glorious tool for sharing ideas, empowering motivation, and building ideas into action items.  Yet, for some reason, words have become cheapened by political positions, and I would see this trend cease forthwith.  Presenting the first and second principles of language and communication:

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and time in which it is used.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Consider two emails; the content is identical, the first is titled:

How To Learn and Master Things Faster – Five Tips

The second email was received later in the day and is titled:

How To Learn and Excel At Things Faster – Five Tips

The second email also came with an apology:

Apologies for churn. The original email today used a non-inclusive word in the header. We apologize for this error and are re-sending with the corrected content.

The content of the email did not change at all, only the titles changed, and the apology suggests that there is a “non-inclusive” word in the original title.  Some people will erroneously claim that the term master is automatically a negative term and base that assumption upon slavery, especially with Juneteenth celebrations abounding this weekend.  Except, master and mastery are not negative terms.

Knowledge Check!As a point of reference, a male teacher is a master.  There are master degrees; master also appears in religious texts as an honorific.  A master can be a highly accomplished person in a trade or craft, or a role model from history.  One having authority over another to force compulsion is much lower in the definition lists.  Hence, the wordsmithing for “inclusion” is a myth; yet the fear of potentially appearing to be exclusive forced the title change in this email and was 100% wrong!

We must never forget the following:

My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. [emphasis mine].

The fear of thought police drives a lot of other problems in society.  Choose the wrong word on an advertisement, and college children (thought terrorists) have been known to storm the business, ruin patronage, anger the entire community, and force the business closure.  All because they presume the mantle of “Master of Thought Police.”  Who gave them this authority?  Where are their charter, endowment, and power originating from?  Who granted permission; this last one is easy; the license to become a terrorist was self-assumed!  Necessitating the following principle:

The history of intellectual growth and discovery clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable. To curtail free expression strikes twice at intellectual freedom, for whoever deprives another of the right to state unpopular views necessarily also deprives others of the right to listen to those views.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.Social Justice Warrior

Please note, I am not against wordsmithing to increase the potential power of communication to reach an audience.  Nor am I against the careful selection of words to provide clear context and empower a collective message through editing.  I will certainly not be upset because someone chooses one word in a message that I might not have used had I been in their shoes.  Why have we, the adults in society, allowed the children in the community to act like spoiled brats and create fear and division over word selection and placement in a message?

The following two quotes contain more than simple support for the principles of communicating but reflect how those principles of freedom and communication operate in society.

If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Certitude leads to violence. This is a proposition that has an easy application and a difficult one. The easy application is to ideologues, dogmatists, and bullies–people who think that their rightness justifies them in imposing on anyone who does not happen to subscribe to their particular ideology, dogma, or notion of turf. If the conviction of rightness is powerful enough, resistance to it will be met, sooner or later by force. There are people like this in every sphere of life, and it is natural to feel that the world would be a better place without them!” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. [emphasis mine]

QuestionIs the fear of the mob so significant that even without a mob, fear is spread, risks must be avoided proactively, and thoughts curtailed?  I say NO!  I defy the entire argument that word selection can cause exclusion.  Why; because understanding is a choice!  The only person who can choose to be insulted over a word is you!  You own the emotions of the moment, and your emotional choices are not my concern!  Do we understand this concept?

Audience selection is the first job in designing communication.  Identifying the primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences is the job of the communication initiator.  After drafting that message and sending the ideas out, the audience is left to choose what they do moving forward.  How you choose is your power, and I am not responsible for your choices.  The communication initiator is not accountable for your preferences and selections.

Andragogy - LEARNBut what about those messages specifically designed to inflame, insult, denigrate, and deride?  What changed?  Nothing!  The communication initiator desired to rile the primary audience, deny them this power over you, choose different emotions, and retain the moral high ground.  The best response to a communication initiator who wants to rule your emotions is to deny them that power, and then that person goes away as irrelevant.

Opposing thoughts expand our minds with both experience and the force to make a decision.  If all we ever experienced were ideas and thoughts we agreed with, change, growth, opinion, all the spice of life would be lost.  Worse, envy would overcome logic, and the world would undoubtedly be a more violent place as a result.

I have no respect for the passion of equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy – I don’t disparage envy, but I don’t accept it as legitimately my master.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.Social Justice Warrior 3

Is the ability to choose emotional reasoning supported sufficiently to empower you?  One of the great tragedies of life, since the 1960s, has been the call for “equality” when the worship of envy was the actual message.  Worse, these ideas have been planted and carefully tended, and the fruit is poison.  When I moved to the western US as a kid, I was introduced to cedar trees for the first time.  A cedar tree is the place of choice for pregnant animals to have their offspring, as the cedar slowly transforms the ground under it into a sterile environment.  The air is affected, the earth is involved, and the grove of cedar trees holds tremendous power for generations inside the forest of cedar trees.  The cedar tree is an excellent example of the power of envy worship.  Call envy equality if you prefer, but the fruit will kill and poison the minds of those choosing to plant the seeds for generations.

Taking the concepts into the final thought:

Liberty is often a heavy burden on a man. It involves the necessity for perpetual choice, which is the kind of labor men have always dreaded.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. [emphasis mine].

Calvin & Hobbes - EnmityLike the expanded mind, choice leads to decisions, decision spurs action, and action will result in consequences.  How you perceive the effects will drive the next series of choices, decisions, activities, and consequences.  Liberty and freedom allow us the glory and the horror of choice and consequence.  Thus, I plead with you, stop allowing your emotional decisions to be controlled by others!  Cease the turmoil over language, speak simply, communicate clearly, and then rest knowing you have not intentionally caused harm.  The audience is left to choose, and if they choose to be offended, those are not your consequences to suffer!

Reason may be the lever, but sentiment gives you the fulcrum and the place to stand on if you want to move the world.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

© 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.