As we move further into the new year, what better time for self-reflection. It is not about reminiscing and being hard on ourselves about what we could have, should have done over the past year. Nor is it intended to be a melancholy, self-critical exercise. For me, reflection gives me that quiet, down time to clear my mind and look within myself, to identify where I am in the moment – how I’m feeling about a given situation and what I intend to do to change it in positive ways. It also includes expressing gratitude, reflecting on behaviours I would like to purge or adapt, and my goals and achievements over the next several months based on the knowledge gained through my reflection. I have started writing them down and reviewing my list, now, every other week to track improvements. This may sound trite, but self-reflection re-directs my focus and helps guide me to being my better self – my journey to becoming better than I was yesterday.  

Many of us often get distracted by the noise, essentially the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, self-reflection can help us to step back, declutter our minds, re-centre and find viable solutions to get us back on track, to allow our thoughts and creativity to re-flow. Self-reflection is an empowering exercise and an important part of health and wellness when used effectively.

There are different ways to self-reflect. It can be done through prayers, meditation, taking a quiet moment to write down your thoughts, drawing/painting, or going for a nature walk. Some of us choose to do one or more at any given time. Many of you have heard me talk about the therapeutic effects of nature (yes, even during the winter). It’s a perfect opportunity for reflection.

Many experts agree that self-reflection is important for a healthy lifestyle. An example – for Laura Harris, a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counsellor, self-reflection is important for productive self-awareness; for understanding our personal identity; and to re-focus on our core values. It helps us to examine our thoughts, feelings and behaviour to gain insight and promote personal growth. Self-reflection is an essential characteristic of being human, starting from our childhood and developing throughout adulthood.

Ms. Harris reminds us that for self-reflection to be effective, we must focus on the “what” rather than on the “why.” For example, if we’re dissatisfied with a particular situation within which we find ourselves, rather than say ‘why am I in this situation’ we can say ‘what am I gaining from being in this situation?’ Our objective, non-judgemental response to the latter question can help surface the positive and productive change we need for personal growth, empowerment and fulfilment.  

Done effectively and consistently self-reflection can benefit us in many aspects of our lives, be it from a personal or a work perspective. It does require courage, some vulnerability, discipline, honesty, and an openness for positive change, as well as continuous growth and self-improvement. Self-reflection is self-care. Let us make a concerted and deliberate effort to focus on reaping its benefits over this year.

Wishing you health and much success over 2024.

Marlene Roache, Healthy Eating Coach, Owner and Founder of La Tropiqua – Healthy Living. For Life Ltd.
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