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Ms Hopkins' Thought for the Term

Posted on: 25/06/2021


Pause and reflect

Reflection is about careful thought.  We live busy lives filled with deadlines, distractions and things that demand our immediate attention and it can be difficult to find time for reflection.  However, reflection is important, it gives our brains time to pause, step away from the hectic nature of every-day life and sort through our observations and experiences.  So why are we often not very good at finding time for reflection? 

I think there are three reasons that we avoid reflection.  The first reason is because we feel better when we are doing something and being actively productive, so we are likely to choose playing sports, doing homework, mowing the lawn or washing the car over sitting and thinking for 30 minutes. The other two reasons I think we avoid reflection are tied to the two types of things we reflect on; things that haven’t gone well and our successes. We avoid reflecting on the things that haven’t gone well for us because it can feel easier to move on as quickly as possible and forget about them.  We also avoid reflecting on our successes because it can feel complacent and big-headed.

However, it is important that we stop, pause and make the time to access our unconscious thoughts – the feelings we acted on and the decisions we made that underpinned our successes and our failures.  Reflection on the best and worst of what we do helps us to understand ourselves; how we think, how we feel and how we behave.  Having the courage to reflect properly can make a real difference to who we are and future potential successes and failures.

So how do we reflect effectively?  This is what I do: I find a time and space where I feel calm and quiet, for me this is usually either late in the evening, at home with a cup of tea or early on a Saturday morning, out in the fresh air, somewhere with a beautiful view.  I pull up the memory I want to reflect on, either a success that I feel proud of or something that went completely wrong and left me feeling frustrated or upset.  Then I slowly and honestly work my way through the following questions:

  • What was it that was a success or a failure?
  • How did this success or failure make me feel?
  • What did this success or failure make me think about myself?  Why?
  • What did I do that contributed to the success or the failure?
  • Would I do those same things again or would I do different things?  What might those different things be?

I like to work through these questions slowly and write my reflections down.  You may prefer to capture your reflections in a different way or even reflect as part of a conversation with someone you trust.

Be gentle with yourself though, we are often pre-disposed to be self-critical, but reflection is not about judging yourself.  Reflection is about understanding what you did and why and using that knowledge to make sure that your future actions shape you into the person you want to be.

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