“The world is a looking glass. It gives back to every man a true reflection of his own thoughts.”
When you still yourself, the world becomes clear.
Oftentimes when we think of self-reflection, we think of the checking off of tasks, goal-setting, and the annual self-review. All important, but peeled beneath the bark is the answer to another question, “Is your life what you want it to be right now?”
Self-reflection can be scary, but it can also be the most important thing you do. It’s rare that we take the opportunity to think deeply about where we’re at, how we feel, and what we want. When we do this, along with supporting our bodies with wholesome, nutritious food and time outside, we can shape our lives in a happy, healthy way.
This year a lot changed for me. I got my own house, recovered from a long surgery, and checked some things off of my bucket list. These are the things I think of first when looking back at 2021, the “big” ones. But when you add all the small things together, the day-to-day of everyday life, is when you really get the picture.
In-between those big events were Wednesday nights spent with my girlfriends, walking along the river sipping tea. Early mornings out exercising, moving in the cool morning air as the sun came up, and lying in my hammock with my dog on my lap, reading paperbacks. These things reflect my values, make me feel full and free and happy that I’m doing what I want to with my time.
Each January, I like to take the time to sit with a journal in a quiet space where I can look out the window. It’s an excellent time to reflect on your past year. The holidays have passed. Snow falls (depending on where you live), and the world turns into a quiet and still place. You can finally hear your thoughts.
There are many ways you can go about reflecting. Journaling is popular for many people. Some like the stream of consciousness, others prefer prompts. Some prefer to draw out their year or pick a word that summarizes how they felt. Many people have bucket lists to see what they can check off and what lies ahead. Nature is another powerful source. There’s a reason so many quotes of the ages speak of things discovered by time spent outdoors.
Now that you can see patterns you want to shed and what you want to do more of, you can set your intention. Some, like Gretchen Rubin, like to make lists of things they’d like to do in the coming year. Others use a chosen word to guide their decisions. Others may pick a mantra, sign up for a class, or join a community group.
For many people, self-care is a primary focus. It’s easy to get caught up with all the “shoulds” of today. I should have a cleaner house, dress better, host more gatherings, go to the gym more, etc. I’ve tried this. What I’ve found is that I lose touch with myself and my inner voice. I don’t remember to take care of myself, to take in the moment, and to sink into all that is present and good.
Self-care means caring for yourself in many different ways.
Reflection, quiet walks in nature, exercising, resting, eating beautiful, nutritious food, and giving yourself time. The massages and manicures are in there too, but it’s is a mind-body practice that includes being in touch with your inner dialogue. It’s something we need to be happy and healthy in this world. Sometimes that means writing it into your calendar so you can make sure to meditate or take an evening walk. Or setting an alarm to read for a few minutes each day. When you do, you’ll find yourself getting to know yourself again. Your time will become full of things that fill you up, make you feel happy, energetic, and light. And you can head into 2022 feeling relaxed and ready for the year ahead.