The Importance of Self-Reflection: How to Understand the Real You

Self-Reflection – the art of looking, thinking and reflecting on yourself. Self-Reflection can be one of the most important things that we do in life, as it gives us the opportunity to take a step back, reflect & review on our lives and think about what our next steps are going to be.

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

We all know what Self-Reflection is, right? However, do you know how to use Self-Reflection to help understand the real you? This is what today’s guest blog, by Angus Rogers from Exactimo, is going to be about! So without further ado, here is Angus Rogers with “The Importance of Self-Reflection: How to Understand the Real You”:

Do you ever reflect on how you acted in a particular situation and kick yourself for holding back from expressing your true self?

Whether it’s standing awkwardly in a bar of strangers or speaking too quickly in a job interview, testing social situations can prompt us to recoil into a shadow of our former self. While it’s incredibly frustrating, this tendency to morph into someone we’re not is a natural response to unfamiliar situations where we’re not sure how we fit in or who we should be.

Knowing how to control this chameleon-like behaviour holds the key to unlocking a host of powerful social tools to boost confidence, tackle anxiety, and even improve your chances of landing a job.

Why Is It So Difficult to Be Yourself?

From the moment we draw our first breath, the world bombards us with a constant stream of cues and suggestions to mould you into who you are today.

While each and every one of us has a unique starting block in life and we’re fed a unique cocktail of inputs along the way, it’s almost impossible to escape the influence of socialised perceptions of ‘the self’. When we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations, we often resort to a version of ourselves that doesn’t feel right.

We fail to project the traits that make us unique and we lose touch with our true selves — we become a performance of someone we think we should be at that moment.

Philosophical Ponderings

At the risk of sounding like a school textbook and getting carried away, I thought it would be useful to draw reference to the French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist, René Descartes.

When he wasn’t arguing for the use of reason in natural sciences or drafting his ontological proof of a benevolent God, Descartes spent his days pondering over ‘the self’ and searching for evidence for his existence in the universe.

After years of thought and more croissants than even he could count, the Frenchman finally had his eureka moment:

“I think, therefore I am.”

Descartes proposed that the very act of thinking is what makes us…well…us. If we apply this idea in the context of how we present ourselves in social situations, the way we think about ourselves will translate into the way we are around others.

We become who we think we should be.

The Importance of Self-Reflection

The key to understanding the real you is to master the art of analysing your inner self. Ask yourself questions about what makes you unique and peel back the layers to uncover a version that hasn’t been tainted by social expectations or predetermined images of who you think you should be.

Reflecting and talking about yourself is a vital skill that far too many people overlook. Knowing how to identify both your strengths and your weaknesses and applying these observations into your life will open doors to new opportunities, friendships, experiences and career trajectories that were previously out of reach.

For example, many job interviewers will ask interview questions like “What makes you unique?” and even more abstract interview questions such as “What animal would you be and why?” to reveal your ability to self-reflect. With the latter, the interviewer isn’t necessarily interested in what animal you choose, but rather how you pull insights from your personality to demonstrate why you would be a strong fit for the role.

Whatever situation you find yourself in, the important thing is to remember that the real you is the version people want to see.

Need a Helping Hand?

The best (and only) way to improve your self-reflection skills is practice. Here are three actionable steps to help you expose your true self and express the real you.

  • Journaling. Taking a few minutes each day to diarise your thoughts can be an extremely powerful process. While it might feel trivial at first, dedicating time towards getting to know yourself can reveal a new perspective and improve your decision-making.

If you’d like to learn more about journaling, check out this blog by Tim Ferris where he compares his daily habit to “spiritual windshield wipers.”

  • Coaching. Whether you’re looking to boost confidence ahead of an important job interview or you’re simply interested in testing yourself with probing questions, this coaching tool provides a dedicate platform to organise your thoughts and prove your true strengths.
  • Mindfulness. Practising mindfulness involves focusing on being hyper-aware of how you’re feeling in a given moment, without judgment or interpretation. Achieving stillness and mental clarity can inform self-understanding and help you take control of your emotions in difficult situations.

Discover the Real You

Finding the confidence to express your true self can be extremely liberating. Don’t be afraid to expose the unedited version of yourself — that’s what makes you unique. 

Next time you find yourself in a challenging situation or new environment, take a moment to think about how you feel at that moment and make a conscious effort to ‘peel back the layers’. Reflect on what’s stopping you from expressing your true self and ask whether you can shift your mindset to celebrate your authentic qualities.

Remember, holding your own in difficult circumstances is an internal battle that you control.

Thank you for reading today’s blog! Personally, I loved reading this blog, I believe that Angus has done an amazing job with it! What does Self-Reflection mean to you? Do you live your life the way you want to? If not, what is stopping you from doing so? Let me know your thoughts and answers to the above question in the comments below!

Thank you all for reading and I hope you have a great day!

James Sweeney

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