Saturday August 13
For over four months I have been utilising the practises of reflection and gratitude to help me grow and flourish as an individual. To a lot of people, this sounds peculiar, some might say ‘airy-fairy’. To me, this method and lifestyle is the only one that has been effective in my self-growth and I can clearly see results. And the results were fast.
Reflective practise is the art of learning from past experiences; the ability to learn from mistakes and highlights of the day, week or over lifetime to grow as a person. It’s used in teaching, medicine, but really all corners of life. Anybody can use it to their own accord.
Reflection is one of the core parts of emotional intelligence, which is the capacity to be aware of, manage and express your emotions and judgements. This term has been floating around society for a while and only now are we beginning to learn exactly what it means. Emotional intelligence is vital for learning about ourselves and learning how we deal with others in our relationships with family and friends. Reflective practise is key in this sense, as it ties together everything we have experienced and felt over the day or few weeks you choose to reflect on, thus building up our emotional intelligence and allowing us to express our emotions onto others in a healthy and natural way.
Most days I write about everything that has happened. Some days I don’t, and that is usually because I don’t feel the need to get my thoughts down on paper – which shows that every day may not hold as much power and importance in your journey and that’s ok. However, on the days that I do reflect, I learn more about myself. I sit alone with my journal or notes app and write what I am feeling or have felt today and begin to dig deep into why I have felt those particular emotions. It’s raw and real. When you start doing this kind of self-work it’s incredibly hard. You are stripping yourself down to the bone in front of yourself which is be terrifying than to someone else. At the end of the day, you are your worst enemy… before you start this reflection journey and learn that you are the most importance person in your life.
Reflection cannot exist without its sister, gratitude. When you reflect, you also pay attention to what you are appreciative of from that day. This is something that I do every single day. I may not write it down, but it’s there. Gratitude is so effective that I use it every time I sense negative thoughts popping up and want to remain calm. I tell myself that it is ok and that I am grateful for the environment I am in in that moment in time and that I am grateful for the ability to remain calm even in those situations, and so on. For example, if I am in a large social setting and anxiety begins to take over, I stop what I am doing, ground myself (literally), and tell myself, in my head or aloud, that I am OK and find three things to be grateful for. This method works 99% of times I use it. And it makes me feel powerful.
I wouldn’t be where I am today in my self-growth journey if it weren’t for these two practises. Introducing them into my everyday life has been the best thing I have ever done for my mental health. Even after the first week of actively thinking about things to be grateful of and reflecting on my day and everything I have achieved over the last couple years, I saw a huge improvement. It was difficult to do at first but then I got used to it and can’t go a day without mindfulness practises such as these.
I encourage you to start this process of reflection and/or gratitude. It takes no more than five minutes out of your day – something which you can do at any time of day, morning, evening or even on your lunch break. It keeps us grounded and allows us to experience new things and meet new people as we are content within ourselves first and foremost. It’s a magnificent thing that has the power to literally change your life, without sounding too extreme. Why not start today?