Picturing Self-Reflection in a Whole New Way
In our Living Compass Wellness Initiative, we teach that one of the first steps to living well is the practice of honest self-reflection. We need to start with an honest look at our lives, a self-assessment, of how things are and where we are before we can decide where we want to go.
This process of self-reflection is similar to what we do if we find ourselves visiting a city for the first time. If we are walking around trying to find a particular attraction we wish to visit, we are relieved when we come across a display with a large map on it. When this happens, we will typically look for two things. First, we will look for our desired destination, and then we will look for the “You Are Here” dot or arrow. Without first getting an accurate read on where we are, it is difficult to figure out how to get to where we want to go.
This week I heard about a whole new approach to this practice of self-reflection. This particular approach was being recommended for anyone who wants to lose weight or simply make a positive change regarding their eating habits. The recommendation was to use your smartphone and snap a picture of everything you eat and drink throughout the entire day. At the end of the day, you then review all of your photos. This exercise helps bring into your awareness the truth of what you are eating and is especially helpful when repeated on a daily basis.
This novel approach to self-reflection is brilliant for two reasons. First, it gives a person an accurate record of what they are currently consuming each day. Second, the very act of stopping to take a snapshot of what one is about to eat or drink creates a pause, a pause where a person can ask themselves, “Do I really want to eat or drink this right now?” That pause provides an extended moment for self-reflection and allows space for the opportunity to make a different decision.
Whether we try this idea or not, it serves as an excellent reminder. There is a definite benefit to pausing on a regular basis to take a “snapshot” of our current habits and choices regarding various aspects of our lives. We can all benefit from pausing from time to time to take a snapshot of our relationships, work, spirituality, care for our body, financial decisions (spending, saving, and sharing), and our current balance between caring for self and caring for others.
If all of this sounds a little new age-ish, it might be helpful to know the source of the quote at the top of this column, “Self-reflection is the school of wisdom.” That quote is from a Jesuit priest and philosopher by the name of Baltasár Gracian who was born in 1601. And going back much farther, we remember that Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not work living.”
So while the wisdom regarding the importance of self-reflection has been around for a while, I am assuming that making it a regular part of one’s life is as challenging today as it was all those years ago.
So pick the destination you want to get to in your life, get an accurate picture of “You Are Here” and start taking the next steps that will help you reach your destination.
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