The (somewhat) forgotten art of introspection
Socrates once famously said An unexamined life is not worth living.‚Äù The ancient Greek philosopher dedicated his life to the pursuit of wisdom and believed that introspection was key to understanding our world and the role we play in it. As he saw it, self-knowledge distinguished us from other animals and enabled us to learn and become better human beings.
While Socrates' famous saying still rings true today, self-reflecting can be more challenging than it seems at first glance. We live in an incredibly fast-paced world, with multiple screens on at all times, the infinite buzzing of notifications, and endless media streams to get lost in. With all of these distractions in our immediate environment (and constantly on our minds) it's no wonder that taking the time to truly self-reflect is harder than ever.
What do we mean by self-reflection, anyways?
Before we dive into the challenges and benefits of self-reflection, let's take a quick look at what we mean by the term.
Simply put, self-reflection is a mental process which helps us better understand things like:
- Who we are
- How we feel
- What we want
- Why we do what we do
That extends to questions of why we think and feel the way that we do, and what our personal values are as a result. At its core, the term self-reflection refers to the ability to be aware of ourselves and apply that awareness to many different areas in our lives.
Self-reflection is a skill like any other. It can be learned, re-learned, and improved. The more we engage in self-reflection and understand our own motivations and behaviours, the better we can make adjustments that help us to learn and grow as individuals.
Why is self-reflection so difficult for us?
Self-reflection can sometimes be an uncomfortable experience. While it's easy enough to describe who we are, really being honest with ourselves about flaws, failures, and even strengths can be tricky to navigate. Some people also struggle to recognise and acknowledge what they're doing well, and end up engaging in cycles of negative self-talk instead.
That being said, the benefits regular self-reflection can bring to our personal and professional lives definitely outweigh the challenges. Keep reading to learn more about some of the key advantages of practising it in the workplace.
The benefits of regular self-reflection at work
Self-reflection is something we're all aware of to some extent. But when the demands of the working week are in full swing and deadlines are looming, taking time out to self-reflect is often one of the first things to fall to the bottom of our list of priorities, if not get forgotten altogether for long periods of time.
Keeping track of our thoughts and feelings on a regular basis is one of the best micro tools we can use to help navigate our work. Here's why:
- Motivation booster
It's only by taking a moment to self-reflect each day that we can truly appreciate our daily achievements - and realise how many small wins would otherwise go unnoticed. In turn, completing this quick ritual each day can be a real motivation booster, especially when working remotely.
And when you feel motivated, Work Energy skyrockets and you love what you do.
- Understand yourself - and others
Most of us have some parts of our job that we love, and some that we don't. But more often than not, it would be difficult to pinpoint exactly which tasks we love (or dread) and why.
Self-reflection is the first step in truly developing self-awareness, understanding our strengths and weaknesses and using them to our advantage at work.
By adding a few moments of self-reflection into our days, we can develop a strong sense of self-awareness - and just as crucially, an understanding of others - to get the most out of our working days.
- Prevent conflicts
Taking time to self-reflect at work helps to prevent conflict escalation.
We can't promise that you'll never face a potential conflict in the workplace again, but with the tools and views gained through self-reflection, it becomes easier to disperse potential conflicts before they escalate.
- Workplace satisfaction
Have you taken a moment to ask yourself if you're satisfied with your workplace?
It can be difficult to find time to take a step off the hamster wheel and think about the bigger picture but we spend so much of our lives at work that this one is, in our opinion, a non-negotiable.
If you're satisfied with your workplace - great! Remind yourself why, and keep valuing it. If you're unsatisfied, ask yourself why and work on ways to improve the niggles that are holding you back.
How to prepare yourself to self-reflect
Now that we've explored some of the benefits of self-reflecting in the workplace, you may already be raring to go. But it's hard to get introspective with millions of distractions buzzing around us at all times. So how can you get yourself in the optimal state to self-reflect and come to new levels of understanding and actionable realisations?
In order to self-reflect, we need a fairly calm and purposeful environment to start with. Some people find meditation and deep breathing helps them get in the right mood, and others prefer creative or physical activities to clear their minds and get in the zone.
It also helps to get some professional support and guidance as you start exploring your unconscious. If you're not sure where to get started or which questions to ask yourself, our accredited coaches can help get you started on your path to know yourself better and improve your personal and professional life.
Vyou is a work wellness platform that helps your team measure, track, and improve how they feel at work, no matter where they work from. Vyou brings together the best of AI and human coaching to create personalised work wellness journeys, all in one easy-to-use app.
Intrigued? Find out more, or request a call back from one of the friendly Vyou team members.