It is not easy to get a sense of perspective on our own thoughts and feelings when it is all going on around us. Our brains are wired to be able to operate on autopilot, so that our patterns of behaviour soon become habitual. We think, feel and do things the way we do, just because we do.
That is why one of my New Year resolutions for 2016 is to keep a journal. Not a full-blown daily diary recording of action and reaction but more of an occasional charting of life’s journey. I done it before and found it beneficial in all sorts of ways but have fallen out of the habit in recent years. This New Year I have been inspired by a quote from the American philosopher John Dewey:
“We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”
Reflection is the process through which we take a step back from our busy lives to review what has happened to us over the day, week or month, how we felt about our experiences and what our thoughts were at the time.
With practice, the art of reflection helps us towards deeper self-awareness by gaining perspective on our own thoughts and feelings. Keeping a journal is one way of doing this. It provides a ready channel for reflection and, I am hoping, will help me develop the habit of thinking more objectively about my own emotions.
So try this: Use a diary to reflect on your thoughts and emotions. Record events that are significant to you and make a note of your thoughts and feelings.
The more honest you are with yourself, the more you’ll gain from this exercise. After just a few weeks, patterns will start to emerge and you’ll be able to see yourself and your emotional habits a little more clearly.