Life, with all its challenges, pain, difficulty and paradoxically co-existing beauty and ease is all about the learning experiences. Mistakes are growth opportunities and need not be feared. We have all made mistakes and we will all make more. The more open we are to what is and paradoxically again, changing what is within ourselves, the more we will leverage our own healing, recovery, personal growth and development in humble truly compassionate ways that know no arrogance. These growth opportunities to enhance your inner self-awareness authentically to increase your self-knowledge and growth make life worth living. And a significant part of the growth process is introspection. Healing, recovery, personal growth and personal development are all what I many call and I know to be an inside job. We can find help, support, and such within our own processes in what ever stage of life and personal growth (or recovery) we are in but we cannot find it from outside of ourselves. We cannot find it from, through, someone else. We cannot demand it or magically make it seem like there is an entitlement to getting anything we need through someone else. It has to come from within. People who do not know in a very conscious and aware away consistently who they are at present need to know that the answers, with the help of a Life Coach, Mental Health Coach or Counselor, like myself, do come from within. Most of us don’t get there to that introspective “within” place inside where awareness grows and perception gets healthier and more clear – more cognitively sound all by ourselves.
Taking the time to look inwards can help shape the person you are, are becoming and will still be able to add more to and in that way the person you are still wanting to become. How you respond to things and make choices are based on letting what’s inside come out. Being mindful of how you let the more painful, wounded, parts of self learn to find expression in the process of joining and integrating with the whole of who you will come to know as your authentic self. A self found if you do not already know that self.
Looking inward can help you take positive steps in life. It is a necessary part of gaining self-awareness of who you are, how you see yourself, what you think about yourself. Along with how others see you, experience you, what they think about you and what they can either enjoy about you or be distanced by in you. At the very least, introspection can help you make morally appropriate and much more personally responsible conscious decisions.
As Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living” As each person examines his or her life, some more than others and more intensely and others then more from time to time, life truly become much more meaningful and so worth living.
Consider these 6 General Benefits of Introspection:
1. Conscience and Conscious-driven decisions. Being introspective allows you to maintain close contact with your conscience in a conscious way as opposed to a way that is largely subconscious and therefore somewhat of a stumbling block. Your conscience is what helps you distinguish right from wrong. It helps you, if you look within and slow down and be really honest with the best and the worst of self to learn to consciously accept yourself in ways that can then mean a healthier application in action of your conscience in how you think, feel, act – how you treat yourself and others. When you focus on looking inward, you get the opportunity to weigh your options much more deeply and much more honestly.
♥ Conscience-driven decisions allow you to sleep better at night. They will free you from guilt and shame and from projective blaming of others for what you need to be more aware of in yourself.
♥ Taking this approach helps you to be true self and to others, regardless of the outcome. It is a much more honest way to be in the world and it begins from the inside out in the here-and-now.
2. Character building. Looking inward forces you to confront the person really you are – the positive, the negative, the weaknesses and the strengths, the consistencies and the inconsistencies, the reality or the fantasy. What makes you tick? What do you believe in? Are your beliefs cognitively sound or distorted by past pain and woundedness? Taking an honest look at your character brings you self-knowledge that can help build your self-esteem. Whether or not your feel you have self-esteem or low self-esteem, no one can, in your adulthood, take away your self-esteem if it has been accurately known from the inside out and no one can break it down or rob you of it – once you look inside and are introspective about it in a very honest way that may even be painful for a time, it is yours. It will then enable you to make changes if you want to. Changes that your experience in life so far may well be making necessary for you in some area or areas of your living life, or attaching to others, or connecting, and/or relating to self and to others.
♥ Have you done or said things that hurt and/or offended others? Are you able to take personal responsibility for that without feeling blamed or blaming those you have hurt? Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you’d feel. Try to, by being introspective really get outside of yourself, while deeply inside yourself to see the other(s) experience and point of view without protecting against it. If one is protecting against this introspective process of increasing self-awareness one will fail to realize the growth and healing one seeks.
♥ Introspectively take a long honest, even painful, look back at your life experiences. What/who has really hurt you? Is there anger? Are you trying to hide the anger under a “people-pleasing persona” and then ending up raging and blaming and accusing others of doing things that are actually being projected out from within you? Are you perceiving others as having done to you what you have done to them? In positive experience in your life what was different from what feels or you have defined as unwanted, painful or negative experience? Which outcome has left you feeling the most satisfied? Is anyone, or any experience in life so far “good enough” for you to be able to feel satisfied about and by?
3. Fair thinking – Rational Neutral Thinking. Fair thinking must also be defined as rational neutral thinking – cognitively sound versus cognitively distorted by past pain because “fairness” is more of a philosophical ideal or concept then it is a part of actual reality. Philosophically put, “fairness” is so subjective that it can easily be argued that objectively it doesn’t really exist. To get bogged down in what feels or seems “fair” or “unfair” can keep people stuck in a lot of pain, cognitive distortions, and misperceptions of self and of others motives. How you think is tied in with how you will or might be compromised in the knowing aware conscious experience of your conscience. But introspection allows you to lock out the noise around you. It’s very easy to sway your thoughts based on what is presented to you on the outside. But listen to yourself first. If you have had a traumatic childhood and aren’t sure who that self is in total, then it is equally important to listen to yourself but to also trust a therapist to help you listen to your authentic self versus your false self.
♥ It’s easy to want to give in to a particular way of thinking based on influence or traumatic past experience that builds up patterns of cognitive distortions – even fantasy thinking to protect you and help you survive the childhood trauma. However, in adulthood and any healing and recovery or personal development process introspective mindfulness and radical acceptance can be very helpful in guiding you to a more accurate view of the past and the unfolding present – a view, perception, and experience that doesn’t mean being triggered easily emotionally to defensiveness and distancing people or to a denial of who you really are in total. It is necessary to be brutally honest when being introspective if you are to truly help yourself or let yourself be helped along with your own introspection so that you do not cycle around old negative core belief ways of thinking that will keep you stuck in suffering. Your close friends and even family encourage you to see things their way. But what about your way? You do need to find out what you authentically know to be your truth and to see things your way versus the people who may well have hurt you in your past and/or as a young child. A big part of introspection for those in therapy is not trusting what they are unsure they can trust from within. That will take time and learning what you can or cannot trust inside of yourself is a process of getting to know your authentic self more consciously and in more self-aware ways that see the “good” and the “bad”.
♥Remember that you alone are responsible for your thoughts, feelings, words, behaviour, and actions or failure to act in your life.
4. Defined happiness. By taking a look at what you’re made up of inside, you can actually define happiness. What are the things that you enjoy doing? How do you measure relationships with others? Answering questions like these, often after facing past pain and grieving its loss, can lead to true happiness, defined by you and just for you.
♥ For some, before happiness, must first come finding authentic self and knowing that self and then finding inner peace before happiness. Life is best lived when you make yourself happy first. However, that does imply treating others poorly or abusively or having too out-of-balance a self-focus either. The well-being of others will follow naturally when you are honest with yourself.
5. Confrontation of fear. It’s easy to live in the pretense of fearlessness or the grandiosity of overcompensation for what you have not yet faced and healed. But the truth is that every person has at least one fear. What is (or are) yours? The best way to determine your fears is through introspection. Once you own your fears, you can move towards identifying, slowing down the feelings associated with those fears, and work toward managing the feelings that the fears trigger or bring up for you. Not all fears, though they may feel unsafe, are in the here-and-now unsafe for you at all. It is important in any introspective process, especially when combined with Coaching or Therapy to address fears with support as well as being introspective.
♥ Is it failure or success that you’re afraid of? Do you fear because a parent rejected or abandoned you or wasn’t able to meet your needs that you are unworthy or unlovable? You aren’t you know! Consider the worst thing that might have happened to you or that could happen to you now. Notice the difference because if you were traumatized as a child, remember, you are no longer that helpless child. You are now an adult perhaps still searching for the self-trust and self-esteem and personal strength to consciously be with the reality that you can choose to help yourself and you can choose to voice your needs and boundaries respectfully. You can take better care of yourself now – when you were a child, you could not.
♥ Keep working to reach out, or if you are reaching out and working with someone, keep working on the trust versus mistrust and the boundaries needed for a safe process that require your adhering to them too so that you can do the inner child work and other healing work that helps you to build life skills you missed learning in a traumatic childhood. You can learn to build the skill sets you need to confront your fear, work it through, grieve the pain and loss and let it go and free yourself from it.
6. Acknowledgement of choices. As a human being, you have more choices than you may have realized or thought. As the only reasoning beings on the planet, we all have a myriad of options available. Take a good look inside as you work to better know and become self-aware of that (perhaps previously or currently still) lost self and continue to work on defining your true authentic self which will help you then to empower yourself to identify your real authentic choices and to feel much more confident in them and with them. Learning about subconscious choices rather automatically made in a young traumatic childhood will help you to know what you need and want to change. You can then bring to your conscious aware authentic here-and-now much more trustworthy and confident choices.
♥ Ultimately, you want your choices to reflect your true character and your true/authentic self. Avoid making “popular” decisions just because that is how others feel about a topic. If you try to please others you will only end up feeling quite angry later and then more often than not people project the choices onto others in ways that blame them when they are not to blame which does not help you learn the personal responsibility for choices, actions, words, thoughts, and/or behaviour that you own but that shames you or leaves you feeling guilty. It is only by getting really honest with yourself introspectively that you can begin to accept and welcome in the less than positive parts of choices made subconsciously by you that weren’t your fault but now are your responsibility and change them so that they work for you and not against you by distancing people you want to get closer to and connect to.
♥ The growth and development you seek is truly possible through introspection guided partially in some cases mutually between you and your therapist until you build up a stronger more self-trusting that empowers your esteem and worth so that you no longer doubt yourself.
♥ Take the time each day to close your eyes and contemplate and then meditate. You’ll realize in time how much easier it is to better know or first find your authentic self and the seat of your own empowerment and inner peace that will lead a truly happier life. There are so many benefits to introspection. It is also wise to consider cautiously, however, some of your introspection if you are not sure who you are or what you do or don’t trust about yourself because people need some support with this as they define more consciously who the self in each of them is.
© A.J. Mahari, December 18, 2014 – All rights reserved.