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  • Writer's pictureLynn Denton

What Happened to Introspection?

Not everyone is prone to be introspective. Introspection is when we take time to look at ourselves, our actions, our behaviors, our experiences and our feelings to get some insight into what is going on in our lives. Self-reflection. From that inward thought process, we can make course corrections as we go forward to the next day. So, if you find you have been really impatient with your children/spouse/co-workers, and you take some time to think about that and why it might be, you can make a course correction to purposefully try to be more patient. It’s amazing to me that when I decide to do something different along those lines, I really remember it and can do it most of the time… least for a while. Then I might need another period of introspection.

Do you take time to be introspective about positive things in your life? It’s important to notice our successes, big and small, and give ourselves the proverbial pat on the back. To reflect on something that has gone well can be as simple as saying to ourselves… "I feel good about this." “Good going to me.”

It’s more likely that we put off thinking about what is not going so well. Being reflective about what isn’t going so well just does not sound too attractive. Besides, for some, that thought process can lead to ruminating, worrying, focusing too much on the negative. Yet, if we bury or push away our thoughts, they can also bubble up in other ways, such as anxiety or depression, and possible health issues too.

In our society, we are often reluctant to tell others when we notice they are being (fill in the blank)….impatient, short-tempered, unavailable, anxious, etc. Others even hesitate to tell us things like “you have lipstick on your teeth!” So if that is the case, we end up having to rely more on ourselves as to when to notice our own behavior. And then reflecting on it. But we need the time and space to do this.

Which leads me to one of my favorite topics that I have written about previously – over scheduling and being busy. Oh, and don’t forget multi-tasking. In our present world, we are busy all the time – and kind of proud of it! Many of us don’t get much downtime, nor do our kids. So where is the time to be introspective?

Since many of us now take our technology with us everywhere we go, time we might have used to be introspective is now used to check texts or emails. We have removed some of our limited thought time from our days. When I’m waiting in line, I might check my phone for texts, or even play a quick game of solitaire, for all of the three minutes until it’s my turn.

Where are places we can be introspective? At yoga, at meditation, in our cars, waiting in line, in the shower, on a walk, on a run, at our places of worship, while we’re stirring a pot on the stove, while we chop vegetables, washing dishes, on a bike ride, riding on the train to work, on an airplane.

What about our kids? Do they know how to be introspective? How often adults check their phones pales in comparison to the frequency with which our kids check their phones, texts, Facebook, Twitter, and on and on. If they aren’t reflective, or don’t wish to be reflective, they might be missing out on an important skill that helps them to become well-rounded, healthy adults that have a working inner-feedback loop.

We can help teach our children this skill. At dinner, from time to time, ask your family to reflect (use this word) on something they are proud of from their day, and/or something that they think didn’t go as well as they hoped. Parents share too, and model the script. This can also be done in a car ride, or before bedtime. Or if your child breaks a rule, or does something “wrong”, rather than take away their electronics, have them write you a note about what they did, and why that might have hurt someone else.

So take a few minutes to reflect on my thoughts of being reflective! I hope that it will be a good use of your time.

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