Really listening to your thoughts and trying to decipher them is a great way to learn about yourself. It’s so strange, but I remember the moment I became self reflective. I was a child and not aware of how my actions affected others. I remember I was having a party at my house, surrounded by a group of friends. We were running around, having fun without a care in the world. There was a movie my friend brought over (on VHS) and I wanted a copy, but we only had 1 VHS machine, so I couldn’t copy it myself. I knew my aunt had 2 VHS machines at home and could easily copy the tape for me, so I ran up to my aunt and asked her to make the copy. In my head at the time, I was just excited about getting this movie and wanting it so badly and just thinking “of course my aunt will happily do it.” Instead, she snapped at me for not saying please before asking, and it scared me. In that moment, I felt like something in me snapped and I felt so embarrassed and bad that I didn’t say please and I upset my aunt. It was from the point on that I became keenly aware of my actions and how they affect others.
There are pros and cons to my self reflection habit, because in my case, I also reflect on what I think that other person I’m interacting with is thinking and so in turn, I tend to not speak up as much as should because I think they are going to be offended or upset. In most cases, that’s not the case, and I project my feelings onto that other person because it’s what I would think, but it’s not necessarily what they would. And so, I’m learning to get away from that habit of reflecting on what others are thinking and just focusing solely on my actions.
I feel nowadays not many people are aware of themselves and their interactions with others around them. It’s kind of become like a “me, me, me, what’s in it for me” kind of society and it bothers me. It sometimes feels like I’m living in a selfish world where no one cares about others around them. And then I remind myself that I shouldn’t be reflecting on others’ behaviours but reflecting on mine and making sure that I’m living up to my standards I’ve set for myself.
But can you imagine if every person in the world held themselves to their own highest personal standards and checked themselves whenever they strayed off the path, what an interesting world we’d live in. I suppose someone’s own personal high standards would be subjective, but I think the minimum standard should reflection on whether your actions negatively affect those around you and taking action so that it doesn’t happen.
What does being self reflective entail? Here are just a few points:
- Listen to your thoughts
- Be aware of your interaction with others around you
- When you make a decision to do something, think about why you are doing it
- Before you say something mean to someone, think about what you are saying and whether it’s necessary to say it, and if it is, why are you saying it?
- When you’re angry, think about what is making you angry (sometimes it has nothing to do with that particular moment, but stems from a memory from a long time ago) and can you diffuse the anger before hurting someone else
- It’s OK to have negative thoughts, but figure out why you’re having those negative thoughts and see if it can be turned into something positive
If as a society, our ultimate goal was to just self reflect and learn to be a good person, I’d say we would have a pretty darn near perfect world.