Winter is a time of rest, moving inward, hunkering down into a place of warmth, solitude, and reflection. It is a time to dream of peace, the return of the light and the promise of spring—new life, new growth. It is reminiscent of the therapeutic process—a way of seeking a new lens to view, discover and rediscover our lives, stories, and myths and move toward growth, health, and well-being. It calls to mind what T. S. Eliot wrote in his poem “Little Gidding”: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Practice Your Self-Reflection
The process of self-reflection is to begin to understand our self-awareness. It is the ability to observe and evaluate our emotions, thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and others. Self-reflection and self-awareness have long been part of both Eastern and Western spiritual practices, philosophies, and psychologies. All have the goal of being clear on what is being observed (what is “the thing in itself”) and evaluating how it fits into our world view and behavior.
So how do we go about building self-reflective skills? The process begins with awareness, focus, and intention. We can practice meditation, yoga, chi kung (qigong), tai chi, communing with nature, drawing, or writing. These practices provide us with the basic skills of focusing and repeated practice. Next we must reflect on and employing consciousness to our awareness. We examine what we have observed as a belief, emotion, thought, or bodily sensation and attempt to make sense of it contextually. For example, I trip and knock a coffee cup off a table. I become aware of feeling embarrassed, my hand hurting. I may get angry, shout, throw the cup. This is when I begin self-reflection—am I angry, or am I actually embarrassed/hurt? Where did this reaction come from? Who does it remind me of? What story am I telling myself? These types of questions are the way we begin to unravel the unconscious connections that keep our self-awareness from us. Once we can correctly identify the situation we can put it into perspective. Are these the behaviors or values I want to represent? If not, what changes must I make?
We do not have to wait for a negative incident to occur to spark our search for awareness. We can journal or do free writing—the practice of simply putting pen to paper and letting words flow. We then look over what we have written to explore what the unconscious has presented. We can simply dialogue with our dreams or with ourselves and make the unconscious conscious. Regardless of which practice you choose to use, the journey toward self-reflection is like the promise of spring—and the fresh new start you’ve been searching for.
James W. Osborne, MS, LPC, has been one of Natural Nutmeg’s 10Best Winners for Holistic Psychotherapy/LCSW/Counseling every year since 2018. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 40 years of clinical experience.
He employs mindfulness, Jungian psychology, gestalt psychology, ACT, EMDR, and value-based techniques unique to the individual to support positive health changes. His undergraduate degree is in philosophy, and he views psychotherapy as philosophy in action.
You can contact James at: ProNatural Wellness Group in Berlin, CT, at 860.829.0707.