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How self-reflection helps us create the space and time to know ourselves

As the new year dawns, Lounge offers suggestions that could help you make a conscious choice about how you want to move ahead

Create a space for a regular self-reflection practice
Create a space for a regular self-reflection practice (Pexels)

Self-reflection not just helps us create space and time for us to know ourselves; it also helps us understand what we are and how we see the world around us, says Dr Nivedita Chalill, a Mumbai-based counsellor and art-based therapist. It helps us make a conscious choice about how we can move ahead, she says, adding that one needs “a mental attitude of compassion, honesty, patience mixed with the spirit of genuine curiosity and exploration,” to do it.

Here are five ways to start, according to Dr Chalill. 

Create the space

This includes the physical space--at your desk with a journal or a sketchbook, on a meditation cushion, or in front of an altar if you use/have one--as well as the gap in your lifestyle/schedule that allows for this 5-10 min of uninterrupted time. Aim for this to be a regular practice - so it is preferable to start small and be consistent than to aim big and be unable to continue.

Also read: Five ways to reflect before you step into the new year

Develop conviction

Your view of yourself and how you relate to yourself is often the basis of our relationship with people and things around us. So the more clear and healthier this relationship is, the more will it reflect in most other spaces. Developing conviction is an essential element to retaining motivation, so spend time with this thought.

Exploring our view of who we are

None of us is perfect. That's the good news - you are not alone. But the better news is that none of us is fixed or static either. We are constantly growing and evolving. Can we examine the growth and shifts in our minds during this time, the baggage we may be carrying, or the concerns we have, and gently work on them so they don't weigh heavily on us all the time? 

For instance, we can simply recognize errors that we have made, accept them without blaming others/events, genuinely regret our actions and take simple steps towards making amends. An apology through a call, or a message. A poem sent across to reach out to an old friend who you miss. Or if it is too difficult to reach out to that person, then a simple heartfelt apology made in front of someone/something that you respect - your deities/altar or someone wise that you respect is a great place to start.

Work on yourself

Our bodies and minds may be far from perfect, but we don't need to be critical or angry or hateful towards ourselves. These are the best and only tools we have. So can we see our imperfections (without making excuses) with some love/compassion, and encourage ourselves to take a small step in a direction towards health and healing. If you find that difficult to do, imagine a relative or friend who has loved you, and imagine what they would have said to encourage you. And if you've not had anyone like that, imagine what an enlightened teacher would tell you. And many of these wonderful teachers have been kind enough to leave books or teachings for us. ( The book 'Beyond Religion' by HH the Dalai Lama is a great place to start. ). You just need to simply take that step.

Open your heart 

Others are far from perfect. But they too are changing, even if you don't think so. You don't have to trust them completely if you don't want to, but you can let go of the anger and resentment that you are holding on to. Instead of repeating stories of being hurt by select people, can we gently shift our narratives to times we have been helped by those people or others, or have received kindness. 

Also read: How to forgive yourself and move ahead this coming year

This is not to say that we have to become 'positive' and ignore the 'negative', but we definitely have to examine a skewed way of looking at the world where we only remember the negatives, or where they become overbearing and influence our lives adversely.

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