Imagine that you come home after a really bad day where everything possible has gone wrong. When you walk inside the hallway you are confronted with a time machine which can take you back to the same morning so you can live the whole day again. Viola! You use this opportunity to think about everything that went wrong and what you could do (if anything) to correct. It may not seem like it, but this is reflection – the act of thinking about our experiences to learn from them for the future. In real life you probably don’t have access to time travel, but you can still work towards being a reflective practitioner.
Aristotle said- “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”, but it is amazing how little we might know about ourselves, and this is where self-reflection plays a key role. Since the pandemic, I have felt that many of us are surviving on autopilot mode. It hasn’t been easy especially in a world where we are constantly juggling different responsibilities. The only thing that keeps us sane are the different methods of reflection, the little ways in which we get our breather and find our calm in the chaos.
These moments of reflection are integral in helping us understand ourselves and get clear about our intentions and values. Reflection is a very personal thing and different people will define it in different ways. It is important to remember that there is no one correct way of defining what reflection is or how it should be done as a lot of this will depend on your own circumstances. Keeping this in mind, I and my team members decided to share our diverse methods of reflection to gauge what keeps us all grounded. While many of you can relate to us, many of you can try and explore some of our methods. We can assure you that practising reflection consistently will help you to know yourself better and grow.
IAN LYALL – Sales Enablement Manager, Leadership and Sales Performance Coach
Mind-mapping the ‘Tree of life’
“If someone asked you right now, how are you doing when it comes to your spiritual, emotional, physical health, wealth, love, and happiness, what would you tell them? It’s a tough question to answer on the fly, isn’t it?
Many people don’t take time to reflect on this, and yet I have found it is one of the key’s to living a great life. If we don’t know where we stand on these important areas of life, how can we know how to make changes to improve our work life balance, happiness, fulfilment and so forth?
Many of us can easily get stuck in the “daily grind”. It’s something we can all relate to at some point. Sometimes, we can be completely happy in one or two areas of our lives, and yet there is a cost to other areas of our life, which we may not realise until you do some self-reflection.
I gained more self-awareness the day I was introduced to a ‘Tree of Life’ concept using mind maps. It starts with identifying 6-8 key topics that are important for you, in your life – for example, Health and Wellness, Work, Spiritual, Financial, Friendships, Self-Development and so on.
Those topics are the branches of your tree of life.
For each branch, think about your current situation as it is ‘now’. Write one or two sentences about your current situation. Don’t think too hard. Spend at most one minute for each of the branches. and as you reflect, gently give yourself a happiness rating out of 5. Humbly accept where you are now. There’s no shame in where you are. That’s something I’ve had to learn.
Then, gently meditate and begin a process of reflective thinking about each branch and what you might like to change. This opens new possibilities for your life, almost immediately. You can change the way you grow.
I’ve found that by regularly using the tree of life mind map as means of self-reflection, you gain more self-awareness. I do it monthly. You become more aware of where you should focus your energy and as a result, you gain more motivation by doing the things that really matter to you and those you love.”
KAVITHA CHANDRASEKHAR – Client Engagement & Business Operations Manager
“Some of the ways in which I self-reflect are-
Bedtime/good sleep– Personally for me, whenever I am in bed and dozing off, I am no longer distracted by my phone, office work, or work at home. Bed is where I can truly be alone with my thoughts. Also, there is something comforting about thinking about the past, even if it was not perfect. It gives me an escape from the present. I spend all day in the present, while at home doing chores, and while at work. When we are children, we escape the world by using our wild imaginations, but when we are adults, we sadly lose much of that ability. Imagination turns into life reflection. Lastly, while sleeping, our minds sort through years of memories, fears, and wishes. It gives us clarity on the path that we need to take and sometimes when we wake up it does give us an aha moment for making choices. That is exactly the reason why people say sleep it out when you must think of a solution for an issue.
Talking to others– At times reflecting by talking to oneself leads to negative thinking and rumination. That is the reason why I choose to talk to others. It can vary from talking to family, friends, or a guide (guru). Technically when reflecting by talking to others, we gain new perspectives, go deep within and come up with creative solutions as they tend to ask us questions that we cannot think of ourselves.
Using Psychological tools– As a trained psychologist, I was introduced to reflecting tools and questionnaires during college days. Whenever I find it difficult to reflect for a future goal or just to go inside myself, I use the self-reflection CBT scale or Insights scale. It gives a lot of understanding on one’s own feelings, emotions, memory, value, skills, problem solving skills and self-questioning skills that will help us get clarity.”
KUMAR SOMAYAJULU Director – Customer Business Value
Introspection through journaling, sitting in silence, listening to music
“During the good old days (not that I am very old now), when I started introspecting, I used to write down all the points on a piece of paper. Once everything was on paper, I used to think about each point deeply. This helped me analyse the good and the bad, right, or wrong, reaction and response. I used to introspect at the end of every day. This had certainly helped me in becoming more aware of my actions. Once this became a part of my system, I stopped writing down the points and instead began capturing these points in my mind (literally replaying them) and started reflecting. The frequency of reflection has steadily come down, as I started becoming more and more conscious of what I am doing. By being conscious, it has helped me gain that additional moment before committing the action. I spend very little time nowadays for reflection process, but if I do, I ensure that there is absolute silence so that I am undisturbed. Sometimes good light music also enhances to get into the reflection process.”
ABILASH RAMANATHAN Specialist – Creative Technology
Solving puzzles, playing games, listening to music
“The best way for me to reflect during any urgency/challenge/stress is to immediately distract myself and concentrate on other activities such as playing video games, solving some puzzles.
On the other hand, also my choice is to listen to music. While playing games, I feel competitive, and it encourages me to motivate myself. However, solving puzzles helps me think out-of-the box. Listening to music relaxes my mind, keeps the brain in good rhythm. This helps me come out of the stressful situation and zoom within myself easily.
Once I play games and resume work, immediately my mind is fresh, and starts to think out-of-the-box to solve official challenges. Listening to music on the other hand makes my mind more relaxed in stressful situation. My way of reflection focuses on distracting myself from the challenging situation and then finding new ways to make things work.”
SRINIVAS CH RAO – Learning and Development- Strategy, Insights and foresights
Watching movies, working out, meditating, playing Chess
Whenever I need some time to pause, reflect and rejuvenate, I watch inspiring movies and relish chocolates to not focus on things beyond my control.
I also enjoy working out intensively to face challenges better. Meditation also helps me to calm myself when things are not in control. Winning a tough game of chess also helps to activate my brain.
SOWMYA NAIR Manager – Digital Learning Experience Design & Digital Marketing
Drawing and Doodling
“2022 has been particularly rough with most of us in the family oscillating between sick and very sick, two lives lost, all the while foot on the pedal, no time to grieve. It didn’t take long for the chaos on the outside to slowly seep inside. When one is on survival mode emotionally, reflection is a luxury. The greater problem is that in such a situation one easily loses sight of the bigger picture. One thing that has helped me manage in the sea of chaos is drawing. After many years, I finally picked up sketching materials and started drawing. With this activity, I’m able to push the noise to the background and teleport into a space of reflection. And in that space, I reflect on the urgent and important alike, and ideas sprout. On any busy day, you will see me rather dramatically clear out my table, take a pen and a piece of paper and start scribbling. And the end of it, ta da! I experience my little eureka moments. And the feeling of ‘This too shall pass’ lingers sweetly.”
CHANDRANI DATTA Manager – Content Research and Development
Sitting in stillness, journaling, solo walks, photography
“I sit in stillness amid nature to reflect, gauge my feelings and soothe myself. When it gets too overwhelming for me, I try to journal my feelings so that I don’t project my issues onto others. If I get a bit of time on weekends, then I go on solo photography walks after switching off my phone and detoxing from social media. This helps me to calm down, reflect on my personal journey and gain a different perspective on issues that are bothering me. It also allows me to be accountable for my actions, reviewing them and helping me decide on newer paths to grow.”
SRIPRIYAA VENKATARAMAN Founder – Global Coaching Lab and Tripura Multinational, Director Innovation, COO
Stargazing, Nature observing, answering reflective questions
The biggest gap to human progress is the knowing and doing gap. Every leadership success story has been guided forward with powerful reflections that have given way to:
As Dr. Jonas Salk once said, “Intuition tells the thinking mind what to do next”. I believe for intuition to guide the intent, reflection is key.
There are three routes/paths for my reflection:
Star Gazing – A habit nurtured from younger days that helps me gain strength and balance to aspire and achieve.
Meaningfully observing movement in nature – A habit to follow movement, which comes from many years of practicing classical dance. I often like to observe movement, be it birds in movement in the garden or butterflies in the park. It helps me connect with the flow of nature. I do not specifically call this reflection; it is rather meditative and spiritual for me. I make it a point to observe movement in nature every day.
I also seek clarity through reflective powerful questions. This happens when I connect with people whom I respect and believe have the power to help me gain clarity to solve challenges. Being an executive coach myself, I believe in the power and possibilities for human evolution through deep reflection that stems from powerful questions.
These apart, every human being has their own process of reflecting. Most people keep shifting along the different phases of — activity (meditative immersive engagements and hobbies), personal (introspection and interactions with oneself), interpersonal conversations (interactions with others) depending on the context. While on a stressful day, an immersive activity of watching a movie and not thinking about it might help, at a critical point in life when you are dissatisfied, reflecting and looking within might become integral to grow.
As the curtains fall on this year, here are a few questions from our Director VENKATARAMAN SUBRAMANYAN to help you gain clarity next year.
5 POWERFUL QUESTIONS FOR 2023 THAT CAN HELP YOU CHANGE YOUR OUTCOMES
Did I achieve what I set out to today?
If I must relive today, what would I have done differently?
How am I going to make tomorrow better than today?
Whose life did I improve today?
What insight did I gain today?