You know the saying, ‘if it’s to be it’s up to me’. Or how about ‘as within, so without’? Both of these common statements talk about self-reflection and the prime importance our inner ‘beingness’ has on outer success. Now, if only we could see ourselves a little better.
Philosophers have long defined self-reflection as the human capacity to exercise introspection and learn about our fundamental nature, purpose and essence. It means looking clearly and honestly at yourself and taking responsibility for your actions, words and deeds. It seems like a simple enough concept.
Yet we know that more often than not, such inward-looking can be challenging. While it should be easy enough to assess our own actions, many women go through life without a deeper grasp on how their behaviour can impact the world – and the people – around them.
None of us are strangers at finding fault, but more often than not, we are more likely to lay the blame with others. And this is exactly what has to stop. Psychological projection (or blame shifting) is where humans defend themselves against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in themselves, yet attributing the faults to others. So a person who is rude may constantly accuse others of being rude instead. Do you know any people like that?
While it can seem insane that people do this, it’s likely that you do too! Few of us are truly aware of the full impact of our actions unless we take a deeper analysis – and that’s why self reflection can be so hard. It takes courage to looking in the mirror and realise that we too may hold in us the very weakness that we’re so quick to scold in others.
Before you start, please don’t confuse self-reflection and self-criticism. Self reflection is detached and objective, acknowledging an inner quality or behaviour that is blocking a desired outcome. There is no judgement, self-scolding or abomination. Rather, you are an anthropologist, admitting to a weakness, gap or mistake – and taking positive action to change it. It’s vital to acknowledge not only what you did, but also how you felt and what you’ve learnt from the experience to inform your future behaviour!
So instead of blaming, making excuses or complaining, you bring the power back to yourself by exploring your own emotions and consequent contribution to the outcomes first. Such admission is a wonderful thing and life starts to take on a more magic quality when you move from “they” thinking to an “I” mentality.
To begin a healthy process of self-reflection, ask yourself honestly – what drama, conflict or lack am I experiencing in my life? And how am I at the cause? Is there someone you don’t like? Now enquire, how are you like that too? How are you contributing to any discord between your dynamic? Any time you are in a conflict or a tough spot, what is this teaching you? What can you do differently to help this situation?
These are all healthy questions to adequately address a situation and start being the most whole and happy woman you can be. It’s easy to blame another and often it feels like the other person really isn’t stepping up to their end of the bargain. However, if you always look within, you will discover a situation that can vastly empowers you…. but only if you’re willing to let it.
Alina Berdichevsky is a personal branding coach and regular contributor to the Open Colleges Careers blog. When she’s not writing about leadership, communication and success, she loves reading about inspiring women in history, working on her soufflé and of course – perfecting an inner zen.
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