Why Critical Self Reflection?
Critical self reflection is an essential, and necessary tool for the improvement of oneself. And it’s free! It can help us to improve across many facets of our lives, and plays an enormous role in achieving self-actualization. You can view the 12 characteristics of a self-actualized individual here. Included in this list of characteristics is the acceptance of oneself, particularly those attributes seen as weaknesses. In order to identify these areas, we first must engage in critical self reflection, and here’s why:
1. Awareness of Strengths and Weaknesses
Nobody is perfect, so don’t try to be. Sure, there may be some areas of your person that you would like to change, and that is fine. But however much you improve, you will never be perfect. And so, it is important to accept both our strengths and weaknesses. But first, we must be aware of what they actually are. That is where critical self reflection plays such an enormous role. Failed relationships, successful endeavours, job satisfaction and general happiness. Each scenario provides valuable lessons about our strengths and weaknesses, areas to improve, and sometimes the inter-dependent nature of our positive/negative attributes. That is to say, sometimes our greatest strength, can also be our greatest weakness. Consider how honesty, as a positive attribute, could also land you in some negative situations… But then, you are who you are.
2. Improve Decision Making Skills
Reflecting on past decisions can lay the groundwork for the next important decision. What outcome was I hoping for? What outcome did I get, and why? All important questions to ask yourself as part of the critical self-reflection process. Over time, you will better understand your tendency to make particular decisions, and how well you manage decision making under emotional duress. In the next emotional-fuelled decision making moment, you may recall the last poor decision you made in a frame of mind that was less-conducive to ‘checkmate moves’. If this encourages you to stop, breathe, think, and then act, your critical self reflection has been invaluable… You might just make the right decision this time around.
3. Position of Power
What is it that you really want? Whether a professional goal, relationship goal, or otherwise, it’s going to be a tough road if you don’t regularly engage in critical self-reflection. Empower yourself with the foresight that you didn’t have yesterday. Yes, the past is the past, and it cannot change. But if you don’t learn from the past, then your future may end up looking a lot like it. The point here, is that you can put yourself in a position of value, and a position to succeed, simply through reflection. Do you ever think about how you’d love to make life brilliant for the people that you love? Take their stressors away, and help them achieve sustainable happiness? Well, until you empower yourself with these gifts, you can’t expect to empower others. So, put yourself in a position of power through regular self reflection, and continued improvement.
4. Improve Efficiency/Productivity
Similar to our point on decision making above, reflecting on past experiences, whether successes or failures, can be an invaluable learning tool for the improvement of efficiency and productivity. When engaging in critical self-reflection you may consider the following:
- Under what circumstances do I best operate?
- What has worked for me (or not worked) in the past?
These questions of reflection may lead to questions of improvement/innovation:
- How can I change my environment to improve my efficiency?
- What adjustments can I make to improve the quality of my output?
This is the desire for a person to reach their potential, improving themselves, their circumstances and their environment. As described by Maslow in his hierarchy of needs, this is the theory that, once all of our more primary needs are met, we seek fulfillment by achieving our full potential and engaging in creative activities. In other words, we desire to achieve self-actualization. In order to attain this, we need to have engaged in much critical self reflection, and understand and accept ourselves, others and the universe as they each are. Whilst the concept is not so ambiguous, what it looks like to each individual can be tricky to identify. But, the more you understand about yourself, and your own needs, the greater the chance you will have of fulfilling those needs. This is how critical self reflection can put you on the path towards self-actualization.
The reasons listed above are just some of the benefits of critical self reflection. The overall personal development we can experience by recognising our behavioural patterns and improving self-awareness can have an enormous positive impact on our lives. You don’t have to write things down to engage in reflection, but you might. Perhaps you best reflect by having a conversation with a close friend who can assist your self reflection, while you assist theirs. However it happens, it’s a good idea to make sure it does, and to take steps towards self-improvement. As always, thanks for reading. If you have a topic you’d like to understand more about, feel free to drop us a line on our homepage.