Why reflect on ourselves? We examine our imperfections not so we can berate ourselves but instead so that we can cut through the confusion that arises in our lives. Let's face it life is confusing. Just when you think you have it all figured out something comes along to remind you that you don't. In fact, often it feels like we aren't even in charge. Try as we may to orchestrate and organize our lives something usually comes along to foil our well developed plan.
If we take the time to get to know ourselves, warts and all, we could possibly learn to ride these waves of confusion with dignity and poise instead of stumbling around crashing into things. Wouldn't that be nice? Not that we won't still stumble but maybe we could learn a move or two to brace our fall and minimize the damage.
One of the best places to start with self-reflection is simply to see the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. We can start where it is easiest like, I love movies or long walks or dogs...It is important to start with stories that don't invoke negative self-talk because this is our opportunity to practice being open to ourselves.
Once we feel clear about these basis stories then we can move on to areas that are more complicated. For example, we could start to look at the stories we tell ourselves in relation to other people. We should start with those relationships that are the healthiest. Perhaps we have had a comfortable or easy relationship with a co-worker, neighbour or friend. In these relationships we can see and accept our healthy qualities, like we make each other laugh or help each other out. These stories about ourselves might be that we are fun to be around or helpful.
After this we can move on to more challenging relationships. We all know which ones these are, the ones where we often feel misunderstood or emotionally wound up. This is often were lots of confusion arises. It is in these relationships that we usual wonder why this person treats us the way they do. Seldom do we get any answers. We might spend a lot of time guessing but never seem to get it right. Time after time we end up feeling frustrated and stuck.
It is the stories in these relationships that can be the most informative because they often make our wounds surface. We get triggered by those people who don't seem to accept the stories we have about who we are, i.e., I am a loyal friend but they act like I am capable of betrayal. I am a smart person but they speak to me like I am stupid.
Again remember we are doing this to reduce our confusion not to judge ourselves or others. What is important about these stories is that they tell us about ourselves. For example, why do I get upset when people treat me like I am stupid? Do I have a wound there? Does some part of me feel like I am not smart enough? Do I spend a lot of time trying to prove to myself and others that I am smart? Now we can see what we have to work with. It could be our need to prove our smartness so to speak where we get stuck. What if we opened to this need to prove our intelligence and tried to accept this about ourselves.
Imagine what would happen to our level of confusion if, when someone spoke to us like we were stupid and we got triggered, we changed our story to remind ourselves that we do that and we are ok. We could add to this story that we don't need to act on this feeling instead we could just accept this about ourselves. We could open to who we are instead of trying to defend our position of being someone who is smart.
If we do react that could be ok too. We could remind ourselves that life is full of learning opportunities and we will likely get another chance to work on this one. Someone else is bound to come along and trigger our feelings about being stupid!