I used to fall into bed every night exhausted, grumbling and vowing to slow down. Tomorrow. Tomorrow would come and it was always the same story on a different day. I was convinced it was just me, and that somehow I just hadn’t yet figured out how to have it all. It’s not just me. It’s me and a few million of my closest friends. We are constantly told the way things should be which is usually nowhere near where things currently are.
“Should be” creates clutter. Clutter in our days, clutter in our lives, clutter in our brains. Rather than looking for a solution outside of ourselves, we must look inside for the metaphorical broom.
Self-reflection can be a scary proposition. It puts us in a state of vulnerability. Which is difficult to manage when we have been taught that vulnerability is bad and should be avoided at all costs.
(See this awesome TED Talk by Brené Brown about how critical vulnerability truly is)
You might also be thinking, “Vulnerability issues or not, I just simply don’t have the TIME for self-reflection!”
But you do.
Once I stopped telling myself I was too busy, I was amazed to discover all these extra little bits of time I had been filling with thinking and worrying about my busyness. When I let go and stopped reciting that anxious mantra of “I’m too busy, I’m too busy,” I discovered that I wasn’t so busy that I didn’t have time to think. I decluttered my mind, and cleared it of the self-fulfilling belief that I was too busy to enjoy life or pay attention to it. And suddenly I discovered that I wasn’t too busy, I did have time, and there were lots of things I wanted to think about.
I started thinking, reflecting, while unloading the dishwasher. I reflected while I was making the bed. I allowed myself to feel vulnerable while cooking dinner. I daydreamed about my future while driving in the car.
Where did I want to be in a year? Three years? Five years? When my kids are telling their kids about “the good ol’ days,” what stories do I want them to tell? How do I want them to describe how it felt to be a member of our family?
It was exhilarating. Self-reflection is more than just setting goals and working toward them. Don’t get me wrong, goals are incredibly important. Self-reflection informs us about what goals to set. Self-reflection is the process of creating that clear picture, the story, the feel, sight and smell of my life - five years from now. Self-reflection clarifies our lives.
Clarity helps us get where we want to go (along with a good supply of wine and chocolate). Once I could see, feel, hear, taste, and smell where I wanted to be in a not-too-distant future, my decisions became clear, not easy, but definitely clear.
Now my next step is figuring out how to master the art of making a good decision.