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Know Thyself: 3 Essential Skills for Better Self-Reflection

https://nickwignall.com/self-reflection/

nickwignall.com

Know Thyself: 3 Essential Skills for Better Self-Reflection
Self-reflection is the habit of deliberately paying attention to your own thoughts, emotions, decisions, and behaviors. Here's a typical example: During your commute home from work, you consider how the stress of your early morning meeting might have lead to residual anger and a poor decision with your boss at the end of the day.

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Openness

Openness

It means seeing things for what they are, not what we think they should be.

To cultivate openness, we have to become aware of our misconceptions, default beliefs, biases, expectations and stereotypes about the world and actively try to overcome them. Keeping a Decision Journal is a good way to start.

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Observation

Observation

It means being able to look at yourself with perspective and distance.

Real-time self-reflection requires us to shift our attention away from what’s happening outside and instead observe what’s happening inside. Mindfulness meditation practice is the best way to cultivate this ability.

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Objectivity

Objectivity

It means separating your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors from your identity and sense of self. We are more than the contents of our minds (thoughts, emotions, desires).

Keeping a Thought Diary is a helpful way to reinforce this understanding.

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Self-Reflection

Self-Reflection

It's the ability to pay attention to your own thoughts, emotions, decisions, and behaviors.

There are three skills that can be practiced and will lead to better self-reflection: openness, observation, and objectivity.

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The power of open awareness

Some find that being aware of awareness is confusing or even bizarre.

However, upon further reflection, they consider it very peaceful.

Social neuroscientists found when practicing open awareness meditation, Gamma waves that usually occur briefly and in one spot of the brain are elevated all across the brain. It makes you feel a sense of vastness and spaciousness.

Our brain is an anticipation machine

We typically see the world through a set of filters that can limit our experience and keep us stuck in painful patterns of emotion.

Filters help us anticipate what is going to happen next and influence the information our brains receive. When we begin to filter too much, we lose touch with the beginner's mind that is open and without preconceptions.

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The Limits of Objectivity

If you think you're really objective, you're wrong. We all like to think we are objective, but the reality is we all have biases that interfere with our ability to evaluate a situation accurately.

Find Your Weak Spots

We leave clues when we're less objective.

If you're getting irritated or highly emotional about a topic, you're probably not thinking rationally or objectively. You might be emotionally invested in the subject or hold particular beliefs that prevent you from looking at other viewpoints.

Seek Out Different Opinions

The best way to become more objective is to broaden the input you're receiving.

Build a network of people you respect who holds different viewpoints from your own. Seek out their opinions on various matters.

Anger is caused by impulsive judgment

Anger is caused by impulsive judgment

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The “It’s happening again!” trigger for anger

Thinking, "I'm getting angry again" is a strong trigger for overly intense anger.

When this happens, the negative feelings that we associate with this thought make our emotional reactions worse. Common feelings include shame, guilt, feelings of inadequacy. If we know we have not made peace with our past hurts, we are more likely to experience this emotional reaction.

Changing destructive anger into healthy anger

This process requires us to pause and reflect on our internal experiences.

  • A meaningful component is to identify the negative feelings behind it and the conclusions we make. We should realize that our reaction in the moment may not only be about the current event but also about previous hurts.
  • Meeting this challenge requires attention beyond only controlling anger. It takes self-observation about the moments when anger arise. This way, we can immediately recognize that our reaction to a situation incorporates reactions coming from previous hurts.