Mirrors of Self Reflection

I got up at 0430hrs this morning.

Yeah, it was one of those days where your eyes just won’t follow your instructions but the rest of your body has been trained to sit up, make coffe and brush teeth. Scratch behind the cat’s ears. Start meditating. It’s a ritual that helps me to self-care. Well, more the scratching behind the cat’s ears part (teehee). So relaxing.

Then, a random question popped in my head today – is it better to get advice from someone who is good at self-care, or someone who knows a lot about self-care? Ideally, I would love to find someone with both. But it’s a balance of both that is hard to find. Similarly, it is about finding someone who is good at business versus someone who knows a lot about business to coach you.

I think part of this problem is the problem of reflection.

I’ve gotten particularly fascinated by the idea of self-reflection as I launch Destiny Discovery. Reflection is a powerful form of introspection. It is also a form of self-care for me. I know that when I am not really focused, my thoughts can be crosswired sometimes. My day does not go as well. I falter and try to pick myself up for the next day.

Whenever that happens, I start to trace what happened, why it happened and what I can do about it. It dawned on me that the reflective process often requires a stimulus-response trigger before anything can take place.

And most importantly, how you respond is important. I remember receiving online “feedback” one day, and I started to notice my heart racing. I mean, the feedback was relatively neutral, but there were a few things that triggered my reaction. One was the fact that it was anonymous. Another was that the comments were short, demanding and sounded critical.

So I had to use some of my own reflection skills to examine this.

Observations of Reflection #1: Your response to a trigger determines your entry point.

The emotional state I was in was not yet labelled. I could sense I was getting a little edgy until I asked “why am I feeling this way”. It turns out, I had to re-read the message sent in a different tone of voice, and realize that the statements could be invoked very differently.

That got me thinking about the value of triggers. Most people just “get” triggered and don’t even think about them much.

Observations of Reflection #2: Exaggerated responses reveal energy.

The racing heart situation got me thinking about why Destiny Discovery was an important milestone for me. As a product creator, you know that the product is never going to be perfect, even though you have to launch in order to perfect it. When you respond in an overly exaggerated manner, many people forget that the energy you have there is high. In that sense, you have drive, motivation and energy without direction.

So I began a quick inner observation about this person’s comments. It was not clear if it was malicious. In other words, if I read it as malicious, that would be my choice. I therefore chose to employ the comments as facilitating my direction, pointing me in a useful direction. Not surprisingly, that energy, when directed properly, helped me feel quite good (I corrected a few things on my website) after the fact.

Observations of Reflection #3: Listening to myself is a form of leadership.

If you’ve followed my blog long enough, you will realise that leadership is always at the top of my mind. I am constantly wondering how to improve my leadership game, so I study leaders, look for new ways to think about leadership, converse with leaders and so on.

The trouble with listening is it often appears like you can only listen externally. There’s actually an inner pair of ears we need to consult that points to the heart and soul of oneself. I think we frequently fail to build this listening muscle and therefore we don’t feel worthy or valuable.

By analogy, if listening to others and hearing them deeply is a form of external leadership, then listening to yourself and hearing your truths deeply is a form of internal leadership.

Observations of Reflection #4: How did I get here? is a powerful question to elicit and rationalize patterns of behavior.

So many people are keen to identify patterns in the brain. They think that identifying patterns enables them to do more. I don’t deny this. But, you don’t need to identify patterns to define the patterns you want. What I mean is that you can deploy the pattern by making it very intentional.

As I worked on this article, I noticed that unlike some other times where I would focus in on writing (and I observed this some of the time here sporadically), this time, I took nearly 2 hours to complete this. Each paragraph led me somewhere else that I need to find in order to get something else done. In a sense, I was very distracted. In another sense, I could weave in and out of the target (writing) to do other things (respond to 3 emails, set up appointments, create new reflective pieces upon being triggered by an idea, add an agenda item for my coachee in a couple of hours, made coffee for my partner, responded to a private message… who says I don’t accomplish a lot).

What I’m noticing is that when I ask “how did I get here”, my mind compressed the chain of events to the goal. I was supposed to get this article out in under 30 minutes if I had focused, it would have been done. But then, doing it so sequentially may not have yielded the creative divergence that helped me to flow through all the other things. At the same time, I reckon that by being specific about each thing would help me to feel more fulfilled because I can track specific completion and progress.

Initial Conclusions

I’m probably going to revisit this post again in the future to reconsider the observations about reflection. What I can say is that reflection is powerful. I’m even thinking about the way I am thinking about the way I am thinking. A bit trippy, but it’s fascinating to me that the storehouse of growth is actually locked deep inside oneself. The trick is knowing how to build that awareness for growth and development.

Could I be more optimal with time? Sure – but is that really the goal all the time?

Could I be more simple? Sure – when should I not do simple, and when should I do simple?

More musings to come!

See also  In Moments of Low, Hidden Perspectives Matter Most.

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