Life is busy. We all have multiple demands on our time that can compete with the need to slow down and reflect on ourselves. However, research shows that self-reflection might be generally helpful for gaining an accurate view of yourself. This is because it uncovers important insights, which then predict well-being. Research on self-reflection in the workplace is more limited. However, given the research done outside of work suggests this practice might be helpful, we explore the possibilities below!

What is Self-Reflection?

More popular measures of self-reflection have two components. The first component has to do with thinking about your actions and feelings. For example, maybe you frequently examine the way you feel about things. Or maybe you often consider why you are thinking about whatever you have been thinking about that day. The more you actively process why you are thinking or feeling a certain way, the more self-reflective you are. Also, the more you are motivated to self-reflect, the more likely you are to do it.

The second component has to do with how confused you are by your thoughts or feelings when you reflect on them. The idea is that the more you self-reflect, the more clarity you’ll have about your thoughts. So, if you feel like your thoughts or feelings are always a jumble, you would not score high on self-reflectiveness. If you are high on self-reflection, you are better able to plan your future and reflect on and remember your past.

self-reflection helps you see the past
When you are self-reflective, you can more clearly see your past and future.

Self-Reflection Works if You Feel Good About Yourself

There has been some mixed findings with regard to whether or not self-reflection alone impacts wellbeing. However, the big difference between studies that find that self-reflection is good for you versus bad, is that some studies don’t account for the attitudes you have about yourself to begin with. If you have negative attitudes about yourself, you are less likely to benefit from self-reflection. If you do have these negative attitudes, then you’re more likely to ruminate, which is different than plain self-reflection.

Rumination is the replaying of negative events or feelings about yourself over and over in your head. If you have negative feelings about yourself, self-reflection sessions can easily turn into self-abuse sessions. So, how can you benefit from self-reflection if you don’t feel good about yourself? You may need to work on your self-confidence before you spend time self-reflecting. Reminding yourself of all of your successes and good qualities on a regular basis might increase your confidence over time. Then, you can try to do the work of self-reflection to accurately understand how your feelings and behaviors are aligning with your goals.

self-reflection requires you to see yourself accurately
Self-reflection is more helpful if you are already able to see yourself clearly. If you feel poorly about yourself, you might only reflect on what isn’t working.

Achieving Your Goals Is Easier if You Truly Understand Yourself

As mentioned before, there isn’t a whole lot of research about self-reflection and work. But, some research with students shows that keeping a self-reflective diary made them feel more effective and healthier. Additionally, studies with students suggest that they may perform better when they are more reflective. Additionally, research shows that being self-reflective might help you to take others’ perspectives and to feel more empathetic toward them. It might also help you decrease feelings of guilt and allow you to make positive changes when you hurt someone else’s feelings. So, there is a lot of promise for applications to the workplace to explore!

The good news is that research also shows that the more you self-reflect, the more likely you are to get better at doing it. So, if you haven’t been self-reflecting before now, that’s ok. You can increase your self-reflection by consciously trying to do more of it. Then, it will start to happen automatically.

So, if you feel like your self-esteem and self-efficacy are decently high, try it! Self-reflecting by keeping a journal or by taking a few minutes each day to think through your feelings and behaviors can help. We’ll be doing these exercises at our retreat as well, in addition to exercises to enhance self-confidence first. Already self-reflective? Let us know how it’s going below!

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