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.

What is Compassion? – Chapter Three in the Emotional Chronicles

Bobblehead DollI admit October has been a hit-and-miss month, and I apologize.  I am not sure why, but I recommit to doing a better job.  Thank you for your patience, dear reader.  Though I haven’t been sitting on my thumbs, I was invited to speak at a disability event and have been furiously writing for that.  I speak on 27 October 2021 at 0600 EST.  While the event is not open to the public, I plan to post my comments online after the event, suitably altered to hide the event and employer for contractual reasons.

Due mainly to the method of my upbringing, I struggle with conceptualizing terms like love, charity, compassion, feelings, and emotions.  I fully understand anger, hate, and rage, but the rest I am a pure novice at best, and at worst, wholly ignorant.  I read the texts, studied the books, watched films and lectures, been to psychiatrists and psychologists, and much more.  My wife is very patient with me on this topic; my friends tend to tease me gently when they trip across my ignorance on a topic.  My enemies know my shortcomings well but cannot use emotions to thwart me, for emotions just don’t work on me.Angry Grizzly Bear

However, I am not a natural people person.  I see someone crying, and I have no clue what to do if there is no visible injury.  I know problem resolution, crisis management and can act well in all types of situations, but when it comes to soft skills and “playing well with others,” guess what subject I have consistently failed?  Believe me; I have the K-12 report cards to prove my inability, as well as many a note sent home!

What is Compassion?

When the gushy parts in movies come along, I line up for the popcorn and soda machines.  I know I am not alone; sometimes, there must be 20 other people, not just men, standing out there making purchases and visiting the bathrooms.  I know I am a people watcher, so I can deduce there are more people than I who struggle with this concept.  Let’s discuss; maybe we can learn something and not be so uncomfortable.

I find the etymology of a word tends to bring enlightenment; the definition of compassion includes the following gem, deep awareness of other people’s suffering accompanied by a deep desire to relieve that suffering.  “Eyes that see and a heart that feels” is a saying the comes to mind to describe compassion as a noun.  However, as a verb, compassion means to pity, and pity as a verb is to reflect regret, sympathy, or sorrow with another person.  A word of warning, sympathy is very closely related to and often concealed by empathy. Where one is only dangerous to oneself when taken to extremes, the other is dangerous to all whenever practiced.

What is Empathy?

Sympathy v Empathy v ApathyEmpathy is all about acting like you understand another person’s emotions and you have a personal desire to share those emotions.  Empathy is fake; empathy is a choice one exercises in the attempt to control a person or situation through emotion.  Being empathetic is a skill set learned as a manner of defense or, for the more nefarious, to control others.  Empathy is nothing more than faking concern.  By encouraging empathy, a person with authority is looking to steal control over enough people to contain a group through that group’s emotional connections.  By choosing to be empathetic, control over the conscious emotional choices is given to someone else for momentary social gains.  Shift the social environment even slightly, and empathy becomes foolish.  Still, people will continue to look for something to emote about, even after being caught feeling ridiculous about being empathetic for social gain.

What is Sympathy?

Sympathy is a process of coming to a common feeling in a social setting or group.  The emotional pathway is journeyed by people or groups to feel the same emotions for someone else’s emotional state.  Sympathy is a most dangerous emotional tool, not for the one experiencing the sorrow or misfortune, but for those who jump in with the person feeling the sadness or experiencing adversity.  Understand, the sympathetic person attracts other sympathetic people, like moths to a flame or lemmings to a cliff.  I have met people in my travels who were so sympathetic with another person that they thought they had contracted cancer, become pregnant, or had an addiction to dangerous drugs.

Historical Etymology of Compassion

The following is quoted from the Online Etymological Dictionary to satisfy my inner nerd and explore the etymology further, and the link is provided above.  Latin compassio is an ecclesiastical loan-translation of Greek sympatheia.  Sometimes in Middle English, it meant a literal sharing of affliction or suffering with another.  An Old English loan-translation of compassion was efenðrowung.  “Com” word-forming element usually meaning “with, together,” from Latin com, archaic form of classical Latin cum “together, together with, in combination,” from PIE *kom– “besides, near, by, with” (compare Old English ge-, German ge-). The prefix in Latin sometimes was used as an intensive.  “Passion” c. 1200, “the sufferings of Christ on the Cross; the death of Christ,” from Old French passion “Christ’s passion, physical suffering” (10c.), from Late Latin passionem (nominative passio) “suffering, enduring,” from the past-participle stem of Latin pati “to endure, undergo, experience,” a word of uncertain origin. The notion is “that which must be endured.”

Wwwe-Buddhism Com if Your Compassion Does Not Include ...To the atheists, just because Jesus Christ is mentioned does not make something a religious discussion.  I find it interesting that passion, passio, is directly related to enduring and suffering of physical experiences of Jesus Christ.  Does this mean that a compassionate person is reflecting attributes of Jesus Christ?  If so, does this mean mortal beings can acquire godly attributes and still be mortals?  If not, to what should mortals aspire?

Along the vein of etymology, feeding my inner nerd, and discovering insight into compassion, I went looking for actions that reflect compassion, adjectives describing compassion.  The foremost adjective for compassion is compassionate; how very intriguing.  You look for concrete ways to act in a manner of compassion, and you are told to be compassionate; doesn’t this form a logic circle and a paradox?COMPASSION Is My STRENGTH Not a Sign of Weakness Dr Ronnie ...

Remember, a paradox includes two seemingly opposite points, which are opposites on the first reflection but, on further consideration, are more closely related than opposing.  In considering compassion and compassionate, we find the etymology important to understanding the relationship, physical suffering endured and experienced for others, or on another’s behalf.  According to the New Testament and other religious texts, we find this is the recorded mission of Jesus Christ.  IN the definition of compassion, we find mortals can possess a deep awareness of other people’s suffering and choose to have the awareness be accompanied by a deep desire to relieve that suffering.  But, what if the person with the awareness and desire does not have the ability; what do they do?  Are they less compassionate?  Do they somehow become reduced, heartless, uncaring, or judged for not giving when they do not have?

The answers from the different religions are fascinating on this topic, and if you belong to an organized religion, please feel free to discuss this topic with your Rabbi, Minister, Father, Preacher, Bishop, etc., Atheists, feel free to discuss this topic below and with your friends.  Those in less organized and non-standard religions do what I do, the absolute best you can, and leave the rest in the hands of people more capable.

Compassion Article and Quotes - Funny Stuff, Inspirational ...However, we still return to the core root of compassion; what is it?  From this point forward, I am going to express my limited knowledge and informed opinion.  I could be as wrong eating yellow snow in January, but here goes.

Compassion is being cognizant of the people around you.  See someone with their arms full; rush to open a door.  Offer a hand; better still, find a cart and help them fill the cart.  It’s raining, hold an umbrella—Pet a dog.  Sit down beside a stranger and listen.  See a puddle while driving, slow down, and drive throw without splashing the bus stop where someone is waiting for a bus.  See a sign asking for help, give without judgment; does it really matter what they will do with your contribution?  Say please.  Say thank you!  Say you’re welcome.  Manners matter.Compassion is the path... | Favorite movie quotes, Star ...

Modesty in speech, clothing, and behavior matters.  A friend of mine was fond of the following, saying, “Everyone can do something.  Pitch in!”  As a disabled person, I miss being part of that mentality.  I miss being able to “pitch in.”  Society tells me to stay away, we do not need you, “You’re disabled.”  See someone left out; find a way to include them.

If you question why you are doing something, keep doing it until the questions go away.  Never fear a question; fear not acting on something you feel is the right thing to do.  Want to see society change?  Start the change you want to see by exemplifying that change.  I am still not totally sure what compassion is; I know I want to help people.  I know my resources are limited, but my desire is great.  Let’s do something compassionate; if I understand compassion properly, let’s encourage one person today.  Even if that person is just you, be more encouraging to others.  Society needs more encouragement, needs more smiles, needs more humanity.

Father Mulcahy 2By the way, did you catch the news?  A huge cheese factory explosion occurred in France; da Brie is everywhere.  A large multinational response is underway.  The Kaiser is rolling Hamburgers, and the Danes sent fresh pastries.

© 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.