Negative beliefs and thoughts can end up impacting your entire life in a “butterfly effect” type way. If you think that you are worthless, then this can change the way you stand, the chances you take, and opportunities that you believe are available to you. The result is that you make a worse impression on others, and don’t take full advantage of your innate skills and abilities.
But did you know that similar beliefs can affect you on a day to day level? Hidden beliefs that you aren’t aware of can change the very way you approach tasks… or fail to.
The example we’re going to use here is a busy day in the office. Let’s say that you get to work and you find that things have really piled up. There are 100 (angry) emails to answer, you have one project that’s late, and you have another one that you haven’t even started yet that is going to be horrible to work on.
You now find yourself frozen. Without knowing which thing to start on first, you might find yourself doing nothing.
Likewise, you might find yourself wasting time thinking of ways to outsource the work (palm it off) or otherwise not do it. Great if it works… not so great if you spend 20 minutes looking for a shortcut and get nothing for your efforts!
You might write a to do list or find other ways to procrastinate.
But here’s what you really need to do: start.
While you can wallow and feel sorry for yourself all you like, while you can try and “get out of it,” the truth is that things will only get worse the more you put if off. If you just dive in and start, you’ll at least make positive headway. And you’ll feel MUCH better as a result.
Another one we love is the “one minute rule.” This states that if something takes less than a minute… you should just do it!
To get to this point though, you need to learn to better recognize your own thoughts and emotions, and to better understand how to take them and transform them into positive beliefs and thoughts – determinations that help you to get work done.
This comes from two places:
Once you can do this, you’ll completely change your ability and your life.
Here’s a unique concept that can help you to become the best version of yourself possible:
Throw yourself a party!
Okay, so hear me out.
This party isn’t just going to be a regular knees-up. Instead, this party is going to be about saying goodbye to an old chapter in your life – even an old version of yourself – and welcoming the new.
Why It’s Time to Say Goodbye
Too many of us find that we feel “trapped” by our own personalities, our histories, and our traits. We can get trapped in something called “pattern thinking” or “type thinking” where we behave the way we always have… just because we always have.
There are many reasons for this. We could get into the neuroscience of plasticity, and how repeating certain behaviors makes those behaviors much easier in future (thereby meaning we’re more likely to repeat them even more!).
But there are also more straightforward surface reasons for this.
One is that we think of ourselves in a certain way, and we want to act in a way that appears congruent with what we’ve learned about ourselves. We all think of ourselves as being a certain way. Maybe you’re “funny,” maybe you’re someone who “doesn’t take any nonsense.”
Whatever the case, it can then become very difficult to break out of this pattern as you begin to “revert to type.” This is who you are, it’s what everyone expects from you, how can you act any differently?
Of course, if that means that you’re going to continue damaging your health because you’ve always been the guy who clears his whole plate… well then that can be a big mistake!
In other ways, we might revert to type when we’re tired or when we’re weak. While you might try to engage in new habits and behaviors, it’s always easier to revert back to the old ones.
By throwing this “going away” party for yourself though, you mark a psychological end to that period of your life and that chapter. This can have a huge impact by making you really see that time as over, and by giving you a good reason not to go back there. It has drawn a line under it, and you know that you can’t “go back” without significant consequences or without really going against what you said you were going to do.
Time to say goodbye!
Isn't it scary to think about how you got to where you are now? Or maybe it's scarier to think about where you could have been if you had taken the shots you didn't? That's why self-reflection takes courage. It's scary to ask yourself the tough questions to determine whether you're happy where you are or if you took some wrong turns.
If you're not careful, if you aren't more mindful about the direction you're heading in, then you could end up miles from where you want to be. I encourage you to take courage and practice self-reflection. You will have the strength to face the unknown if you have the courage for self-reflection. Use the two questions below regularly to keep you on track.
Do I Use My Time Wisely?
Time is fleeting, and once it's gone you can’t get it back. Your goal should be to use your time wisely. For example, you can relax for an hour and it can be productive because it's helping you relieve stress. If you're stuck in a job you hate, but you don't leave it because it offers decent pay, what are you doing with your skills? What value is it adding to your life? Does it offer you anything beyond the ability to pay your bills?
You need to have an honest conversation with yourself. Imagine yourself ten years from now looking back on this moment. What would future you want or think? There's nothing wrong with a stable income if you find a way to use your skills, strengths, and indulge your passions. But are you?
Do I Take Things for Granted?
Do you? In the event of a breakup or a breakdown of a relationship, self-reflection is an important part of the healing process. Yet, we tend to look at everything the other person did and cast the blame on them. Have you ever taken stock of your role in the relationship? Perhaps you took them for granted?
You're mad because they saw through it all and walked away. You hate your job, but it pays the bills and keeps a roof over your head, so there's something of value it offers. One of the scariest aspects of self-reflection is what we learn about our true selves. However, if you have the courage to learn it, you have the strength to move forward.
The beauty of these two questions is that you can ask them of yourself at any time for a quick bout of self-reflection. You can also sit down and think more deeply on them for serious self-reflection. It is as simple as you make it.
Courage is simply the ability to do something even though it terrifies you. It isn't simply the opposite or absence of fear, it's the ability to act in the face of it. Without self-reflection it's difficult to move forward in life.
Through self-reflection you recognize patterns, strengths, weaknesses, values, and it's all about building your self-awareness. How can you face the unknown if you are unarmed? Courage provides you with the power to quit your job and start a business. It gives you the strength to end a bad relationship or start a new one. It gives you the bravery to make and embrace change.
Therefore, courage is an important part of growth. It takes courage to reflect, and it takes courage to face the unknown. The only way to find fulfillment in life is to pursue an authentic life. You cannot live authentically without first having the courage to practice self-reflection and arm yourself to face the unknown.
Journaling is a good way to start your introspection journey. First, decide which period of time you want to reflect on. Do you want to cast your mind back 5 years? Or back to last week?
Begin by taking stock of what was going on during this time. This will be easy if you're already a regular journal keeper. Think about whether you traveled during that time, where you went, what milestones you experienced (either familial, personal, or work-related).
Ask whether there were changes in your passion projects, relationships, or work situation. You can't look back and leave it at that, you have to ask questions and force yourself to be open and honest about what was going on during that period of your life.
Find the highlights, but look for lowlights, too. Are there specific people or certain activities that stand out as highlights (or lowlights)? It isn't easy to revisit your low points, but it's an important part of the process. You can't grow or experience peace unless you do.
For every lowlight you uncover, I want you to ask yourself if it was within your realm of control. If the answer is yes, then you will need to consider how you will handle a similar situation next year. If the answer is no, then you need to think about how you will make peace with it.
Your journal should contain lowlights and highlights, with time to reflect on each individually. You can also consider what you'd like to accomplish in the short-term, mid-term, and long-term. What would you like to change in life? What do you think you can and want to improve? This is how you find perspective and clarity in life.
So, when should you consider self-reflection? It's a useful tool to use weekly, but if you do so regularly you likely won't need to get into it as deeply as you do the first time you try.
You may want to leave it as an end of month exercise, and then a final annual review. Through the process, you will gain perspective and it will help you ensure you're living your life to the max.
If you fail to self-reflect, then you lose all sight of perspective. This is only going to lead you to get caught up with the stupid things, things that don't matter. You will lose sight of what does matter.