The Value of Reflection

I’m not always very good at thinking of the perfect response in the moment ☹ but am really good at thinking of what I should have said some hours later and then feeling frustrated that I didn’t say the right thing!  Annoying!!  But reflection is a great way to learn, even if it would be nice to be able nail that killer comment at the right time.  For the most part, a gentle review of a day, in terms of what went well and what you might change is good for your emotional and mental health, your resilience and your confidence and self-esteem.  The value of reflection really is tangible. 

I Haven’t Got Time For That!

Are you too busy to reflect?  Does your day whiz by in a whirl of to do lists (which are a good thing of course), interruptions and interference which stop you making progress as you would have hoped?  Do you leave work with no time to reflect because there’s another to do list with interruptions and interference at home?  When do you stop?  To look up at the sky, listen to the birds and smell the flowers.  It sounds idealistic but what we do today and tomorrow will potentially impact our health and wellbeing in years to come.  One of my recent reflections is that as human beings we’re all quite short-term in our thinking.  Generally, we don’t eat, drink, smoke and laze around the house thinking “I wonder how my lifestyle now will affect me when in 10, 20 and 30 years time”.  I think it’s only as we get older that we start to think more about our health and mortality, particularly if we see illness in people we know or love and care about.  Only then do we start to reflect and realise “uh oh, that could be me” then we get a very big reality check as to the potential impacts of our lifestyles.

Good Health and Wellbeing Behaviours

One part of wellbeing is around what we put into our bodies and how that can impact on our future health but another part is around how we live, in terms of our behaviours, towards ourselves and others, our stress levels and our self care.  One of my current campaigns is ‘please have a lunch break’ and I’ve been talking to lovely people this week about the health and wellbeing benefits of doing that.  My own experience is very much that I function better if I’ve taken a break.  I’m often writing something and if I get stuck, I’ll take a break and that seems to let my brain rest and reconfigure so that when I come back to my laptop I can suddenly think of the right thing to write!  It’s amazing!  If I make myself struggle on, I get frustrated and I can’t find the right words so it’s a fruitless exercise anyway.

There will always be too much to do – fact.  And if you don’t look after yourself you will, over time become less effective.  The definition of reflection is ‘serious thought or consideration’, with synonyms such as contemplation, pondering and meditation.  Slightly less positive perspectives of reflection include deliberation, brooding and rumination, but they all ‘reflect’ a sense of consideration for what has happened, which can offer opportunities for change.  There’s a value in reflection, but not for beating yourself up about things that you can’t change.  It can be hard to let go of difficult experiences sometimes but if you ask yourself the question ‘is this getting me anywhere?’ then you might feel more able to relinquish any upset, disappointment, frustration and irritation that can weigh you down over time.

The Hamster Wheel of Life

I delivered a building resilience training session this week and at the end of it, I asked people for their reflections, in terms of what we’d talked about and what they might change.  Quite a few people said that they would try not be so hard on themselves, or be kinder to themselves.  That made me reflect that we can all get stuck in the hamster wheel of life, where we spin around, trying to do the right thing and keeping lots of people, both at home and work, happy.  It’s important for your self-esteem to feel that you’re part of things, that you’re making contributions in different settings that you and other people value.  But has it got out of hand?  Are you working so hard to tick every box that people are setting out for you, that you’re not taking time to reflect on your own health and wellbeing?  A good life is all in the balance; for you to find a good balance that works for you.  It doesn’t mean that other peoples’ needs and wants are more important than yours.  You can put yourself at the front of the queue.  If you don’t, you might just be surviving when you could be thriving and enjoying a wonderful balance of life that makes you smile 😊

We can’t always change the ‘what’ but we can change the ‘how’.  That’s one of my reflections from my recent training sessions.  With work in particular we will always be driven to deliver more, to keep the pace of business going, to generate more income or to cut costs.  There will always be more to do.  All we can control is ‘how’ we exist within that.  The days of clearing our desks before we leave for the night are long gone so in the knowledge that there will always be more to do, leave at a reasonable hour most days.  If you take charge of how you work, in terms of what time you start and leave, and what breaks you have throughout the day, you’ll feel less tired and so more able to engage with other activities outside of work, which may well support your health and wellbeing.  It really is a cycle of behaviour.  Good wellbeing supports assertive communication, which supports a positive mindset, which supports effective decision making, which supports your confidence and self-esteem, which leads to good wellbeing.  It’s a circle of life 😊

Time for Reflection

The value of reflection can be amazing, if you give yourself the time to do it.  Think about what’s been going well, what you will continue to do.  Hopefully those thoughts will make you smile 😊  Observe behaviours in others that you like and repeat them often.  You might need to find your own style and approach but seeing great behaviours in others can be an effective part of reflection.  Think about the things that have been going less well recently.  How might you change your approach to those situations?  If you’re beating yourself up about them, please try to move on from that.  We can only move forward; we cannot go back in time to change things so learning from difficult situations is a positive thing.  Getting stuck in a world ‘if only I’d….’ is making you less effective. 

Letting Things Go

Try to be assertive in how you express your preferences and needs.  It’s not always about what everybody else wants, you can put yourself at the front of the queue too.  Have you been doing that lately?  Have there been times when you could have been more assertive in a situation?  Reflect on that and think about how you might behave in the future to change the outcome.  Sometimes the outcome will never have been different, however much your behaviour changed so recognise those situations too and put them in a ‘flippin eck’ basket in your mind 😉

The value of reflection is that we learn from our experiences, instead of doing the same thing over and over and getting the same outcome.  Reflection does take time and I appreciate finding that time will always be a challenge but if you’re running ‘it’, instead of it running you, then you should be able to schedule that in toot suite I imagine 😉  Reversing a cycle of behaviour takes one step to start and making that first step a reflective one might be a great way of making fabulous things happen in your way forward 😊

Take good care please, listen to the birds and have a great day.

Best wishes, Karen