This time last year I wrote a summary about '365 days to 180 degrees', and at the time of the point of publishing, I wholeheartedly believed that 180-degree turnaround. However now, looking back in hindsight [or 20/20 rearview vision - pun intended] maybe that perceived 180 degrees that I believed in planar view, was actually a pivot downwards into the vortex of a sinkhole in section view.
Geologists, I hope you got the references above.
As I sit here in a catatonic state, rocking aimlessly back and forth, stupor after an extended period of torpor, I have consider this to be a 'Groundhog Day', repeating forever and ever and ever. I am looking for my eject button, grappling at the quick fixes, mindless busyness and pursuit of doing, and relentless monotonous movement.
Again in my post at this time last year, I made a reference to being close to the point of breaking, and then broke, or didn't? The uncertainty of the times, is also pervasive to the uncertainty of my 'self'? Maybe the journey isn't so much about becoming, maybe it's about unbecoming?
Smack the ground with a solid thud. Stay there for a little while gathering all the pieces back together, as that pavement gives you a solid foundation from which to grow. Void, rabbit-holing, vortexing. Stuck but moving... pushing forwards, and irrationality transcends into mania. Survival mode is meant to be a short-term fear-centric mode of thinking. Flight, fight, freeze. The reactivity of it causes manic, black and white non-communicative thinking - and turns you into a stone-cold warrior that 'keeps calm and carries on - despite the gravity of the stressors and the stuckness. Control means to make sense of insanity, take the reins where there appears to be no sense of any. But in turn, this level of control when you are stuck in survival is insanity in hiding, and it slides you deeper into the vortex.
The static drowns out the voices of the support and people that want to help you, but the void has you stuck, with internal feedback and an utter aloneness.
Any direction, is a direction right? Movement and a change of state is a shift, right? I'm not so certain - as I believe that the art of stillness and reflection especially in my life is much more vital.
At its simplest, reflection is about careful thought. But the most useful reflection involves a conscious consideration and analysis of your own beliefs and actions for the purpose of self-learning and growth. Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning from madness. This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform future mindsets and actions, not only for yourself but for close others.
So, if reflection is so helpful, why don’t many people do it?
- Don't understand the process. We often don't know how to reflect - we don't want to sit still or be in silence. It is difficult in our society which is so critically focused on 'doing' and achieving rather than 'being'.
- Dont like to slow down. In order to do this we need to accept the chaos, the messiness or the inefficiency of the pause. Accepting also the mindset of uncontrolled and 'not knowing' or having an immediate influence over. This in me personally raises a lot of discomfort, defensiveness and utter irritation. But this is where breakthroughs and valuable insight can be found.
- Doesnt feel like there are results. Sometimes the introspection and reflection brings up undesirable outcomes or no outcomes at all. Sometimes in reflection there is nothing to learn at all, so outcomes aren't fruitful or helpful.
- Bias towards action. As discussed in previous points. Movement and direction are the polar opposite to most self-reflection. We all have an unconscious bias to move. Its the Freeze-Fight-Flight response, and it is human nature to react this way. By stopping and slowing, we too often feel as if we have missed the action?
What I have learnt from periods of self-reflection: It's ok if you thought you were over it, but then it hits you all over again. It's ok to fall apart multiple times, even when you thought you had it under control.
Healing is fucking messy.
Sometimes you need to battle on, and other times you need to sit down and let it all go. Breakthroughs comes from stopping and slowing, and pushing and plodding equally. The process hurts, but there is a quote "there is no pleasure without pain". The pain I believe, makes the pleasure even more pleasurable.
If you have found yourself making excuses not reflect - as I always do, you can become more reflective by asking yourself some important questions:
- What are you avoiding?
- Are you working towards achieving your goals?... firstly do you have goals?
- How are you living by your values, or not?
- Are you contributing to the perceived negativity in your life? What can you change?
- How could you have been more effective in your communication with others? Do you need to set clearer boundaries to protect yourself?
- How can you invite more positivity into your life?
- Does your current routine or lack thereof support your goals?
So all well and good... What next?
There are a few different processes to practise the act of reflection. Many people reflect through journalling practices, others like conversational debriefs, or even mind-mapping.
Firstly, you should schedule in downtime to reflect - we are all driven by calendars and time. So commit yourself to a time, and don't try to skip or avoid it. And if you do, reflect on that!
If time is an issue, then start small and work up from there. If an hour is intangible, then begin with a 10 minute block. Progress is progress, even if it is small increments and steps at a time.
Do it, ... sit and do it. And if you find yourself stuck with reflection, then go back to the list of questions and try to explore them. Be Still. Think. Consider all perspectives. Explore opposites and question your thinking mindfully.
And lastly, if ideas or new perspectives arise then further your communication, reach out and ask for help where it is needed. Help may even be accountability for ensuring that you practise new habits, or calling you out when you lapse into old routines.
Despite the many challenges to reflection, its impact is astounding.
"Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection, will come even more effective action.”
There is so much power in silence, even if it is scary at first.