4 Tips to Help You Reflect on Your Life Without Beating Yourself Down Too Much

As I look back on 2018, I saw lots of things that I “failed” to achieve. I saw flashes of plans that were made earlier this year, but were abruptly abandoned. I saw many unplanned complications that trolled me subconsciously. The longer these feelings lingered, the more it became obvious that I need to slap on my therapist hat and change this mindset. I reminded myself of those things that I have actually done “right” this year. I took my pen and I started writing down all the mini successes that I have experienced thus far. This gave me the much needed reassurance at a time when my spirit was down. Although the list was very short, I felt accomplished and proud of myself.

We have all been here at some point during this holiday season. There are decisions you wish you had made differently. There are people you wished you had loved more or less. There are losses you wished you did not have to experience. For some, life have been more than just wishing- it has been brutal financially, emotionally, and/or socially. Many got a life-threatening diagnosis while some found out heart-wrenching secrets. What you feel does not have to make sense to anybody else. Regardless of what others may say, you are the only one who has a comprehensive overview of your being.

Reflecting on your life is a necessary and ongoing process that should be done periodically throughout the year. However, the kind of reflection that many do during this time of the year is more intense. It is easier to be more critical and overly negative about yourself during this time of the year because you have family and friends around  reminding you of all your pitfalls. You need to be more mindful during this time of the year to so that self-reflection does not turn into self-blame. I know this is easier said than done, so I have decided to share a few pro tips on how to reflect insightfully on your life without getting too caught up is the negativity.

  1. All bets are off! In other words, don't try to glorify yourself unnecessarily. There is no one in your head but you and this is not a work project that needs to look good. This is your life and you have to be transparent about what you have been doing with it. This is not the time to pick and choose what you want to think about. This is the time to lay everything on the visual table in your head.
  2. Be brutally honest with yourself. To reflect insightfully, you have to be okay with stomping on yourself just a tad bit. This time, it is perfectly okay to chastise yourself for all those stupid and misguided decisions that you have made throughout the year. This is the point when you accept responsibility for that relationship you got into haphazardly. This is the time that you have to confront those things that have brought you sadness and chaos all year. This is the time when you accept the reality rather than create a more pleasing narrative of the facts. This is the time to be blunt with yourself.
  3. Don't be afraid to give yourself credit. Believe it or not, many are hesitant about giving themselves credit. Our brain is wired in a way that make us more inclined to focus on the negatives and our screw ups. It is okay to reflect on those screw ups, but you have to be capable of owning your awesomeness. Failure and success are not mutually exclusive. You can screw up massively in February and still be completely awesome in July. Just because you made a mistake or had a lapse in judgment does not override all the intelligent decisions that you have made thus far in your life. Take credit for the goodness in your life as much as you take credit for the foolery you were involved with.
  4. Make a forward-thinking plan. After reflecting critically, some people find themselves feeling stuck on all the things that did not happen for them. I must admit, this feeling can be overwhelming to the point that you don’t even know how to move forward. I encourage you not to give up. Regardless of how crazy 2018 have been, next year still hold immense amount of possibilities. Remember that - what is done is done and you cannot change the past. What you can do now is shape the future by having a clear perception of where you are going.

I am cognizant of the fact that this last tip is inherently difficult for a lot of people to accomplish. As such, I will provide some clear directions in my blog post next week. For now, do a big dump on yourself, pick yourself back up, think forward about your life, and enjoy the holidays. Cheers!

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