In science, the Law of Reflection states that the reflected ray – the place where a beam of light is going to – and the incident ray – the place where a beam of light comes from – changes direction at opposite sides of the normal – the centre point where they meet (Figure a). The same is true of us light beings.
For a new thought, feeling, or action to be born it must first come from a place of old, is processed and restructured internally, and is then brought forth in a new light with a different perspective. It is the same for our wants and desires, of an old year into the next, it is thus the same for looking back on the year 2019 for the year 2020.
In our daily lives, however, reflection and the capacity to do so for our own lives does not come in straight lines and often without ease. Still, many world leaders, athletes, businesspeople and spiritual teachers all speak to self-reflection as an essential key to success. This too is the truth for ‘everyday people’ who have found fulfilment and happiness making a habit of this practice.
What is it that we gain by looking back, and more importantly, looking inward? As we look to the beginning of a new decade in 2020, how do we bring self-reflection to the foreground to bring clarity and direction into focus?
The Importance of Self-Reflection
To self-reflect is to meditate, bring to our awareness and give serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motivations. It is the analysis of the way in which we go about our lives to determine whether we have lived the past few days, weeks, months, or year in a healthy and positive way. The benefit of holding a mirror up to ourselves for analysis is when we are able to confront both our triumphs and challenges toward bettering ourselves in the future.
Championship athletes such as superstar tennis titan Serena Williams and triathlete Craig Alexander share that after each match or race they sit with their coach and teams to reflect on what went well and what could be improved the next time around. They pick apart their swing, cycle speed, and breath as well as examine their emotional states throughout the game and race – all the details of their performance.
We think this effort should be standard place at their level, it seems obvious, but what if they did not reflect and simply kept playing? What if they never stopped to think about how they could do something differently, better? Yet this is what many of us do with the most important thing we have – our lives. Hence why self-reflection is important, no, it is essential to achieving our goals in the new year – now is the time for pause.
What Happens When We Don’t Reflect?
We keep the ball rolling, we keep feeding the fire and stirring the pot, we just keep moving – until we crash, or hit a wall, or simply run out of steam. It means that although we are moving, our actions do not take us forward, we remain stuck on a treadmill repeating the same mistakes, staying where we no longer belong because we have not taken the time to assess why we should do anything differently – why we should leave that toxic relationship or change jobs when we are unhappy.
When something goes wrong or when something goes right, we should STOP – pause, breathe, debrief – then get back on the horse. Constant self-reflection makes us better at seeing the good signs or spotting the red flags – it sharpens our senses to keep us on track towards our goals.
The Benefits of Self-Reflection
Now that we understand what can go wrong, this is what can happen when we self-reflect to stop, look, listen, and then act.
- Improves self-awareness
- Provides perspective
- Allows us to respond, not to react
- Facilitates a deeper level of learning
- Improves confidence
- Challenges our assumptions
Making a Habit of Reflection
You can make reflection a daily habit with one sentence in a journal a day, exercise, meditation, and practicing self-love. When it comes down to the crux of it, there are two main components of self-reflection – focus on these:
- Reflect on You
Who you are and what you want for your life?
- Reflect on the Areas of Your Life That Are Important to You
Your relationships, home, family, career, well-being, finances, goals, spirituality, personal growth, fun and recreation.
Now go look back on your 2019 to gain 2020 perspective in the New Year.
Nthabiseng Shongwe (BBusSci (Hons) – Marketing and Communications) is the Wellness and Marketing Manager at Amani Spa & Wellness at the Houghton Hotel. With over 6 years of experience working alongside medical doctors and alternative therapy practitioners, she has supported both patients and clients to improve their overall well-being and quality of life in the 8 dimensions of wellness – physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational, financial and environmental. Nthabiseng’s goal is to create safe and healthy working and personal environments.