New Year is the time of year where many people make resolutions and set goals. During this time, many of the clients that I see in my private practice are also making vision boards. When I asked one of my clients about her process in making her vision board, she told me that she reads through all of the journals she has kept during the year and reflects upon what she wrote about. She said she then takes time to pray and mediate and goes about the task of clipping pictures and words from magazines and pasting them on her vision board. I thought that was a pretty cool process, as it also involved self-reflection.
I personally see self-reflection as a daily undertaking. I often reflect about the causes of my mood, behaviors and thoughts. If I am feeling sad, I reflect upon what I am thinking, where I am, what I am doing, what music I am playing, what my diet consists of, etc. The same with feeling happy. However, I reflect more intently when happy, attempting to capture the moment and making mental notes of what I am doing, feeling, thinking about, etc. I often reflect upon what I am feeling when I am with patients, as I want to always show up as my authentic self, clear of any biases or judgments.
In regards to my behaviors, I try to treat other people as I would like to be treated and that is with dignity and respect. I try to be trust worthy, dependable and an overall good person. I usually eat pretty healthy. I stopped eating meat years ago and occasionally eat fish. I am pretty attuned to my body and am able to detect if a mood dip is the consequence of something I ate. I am definitely not an exercise fanatic, but I also know when I don’t move enough that can cause my mood to dip as well.
I am often in my head, meaning that I think too much! This definitely gives me ample time and opportunities to reflect upon my thoughts. I am very conscious of the power of my thoughts and I work hard to try to steer them towards positivity. Understanding the cognitive triangle referred to in cognitive behavioral therapy, and the idea that our thoughts affect our feelings and behaviors, is a good reminder to be reflective at all times in regards to the way that you think. One of the ideas that I reflect upon and remind my patients of, are thoughts are just that, thoughts. They are not reality and will pass. The same goes with feelings, they are fleeting and will pass as well. Knowing this, I remind myself that the most important thing is to stay in the present moment and not to dwell on the past, or think too much about the future, as the present moment is all we really have.
Being reflective in regards to our mood, behaviors and thoughts can go a long way in helping us to get to the core of our psyche. It is there where our soul, mind and spirit reside. Having a better understanding of it allows us an opportunity to understand its depth and its effect on our current functioning.