Let me start by saying that self-reflection isn’t just important, it is one of the most important practices we can engage in across our lives. I say this as both a scientist and a practitioner in the field of psychology, but also as a person whose life has been vastly enriched by greater self-awareness.
There are countless reasons why self-reflection is so beneficial, but here are three of the most important ones.
Self-reflection is critical to self-awareness.
Although most of us would like to believe that we have great self-awareness, research has consistently shown otherwise. Simply feeling and acting upon an emotion does not mean that you understand why you feel the way you do, or what it is you are even feeling. For example, have you ever acted out in anger when it was truly sadness or hurt that you felt underneath?
Self-reflection allows us insight into our inner experiences and provides us with an opportunity to distance ourselves from the first-hand intense experience of our emotions to observe them more objectively.
Self-reflection supports personal growth.
Human beings often act and react based on unconscious drives and impulses; this is a lifesaving ability that has been crafted through millions of years of evolution. However, in the modern environment, these unconscious drives may not always serve us in a positive or productive way. Hence, when we self-reflect before we behave, we can decide to engage in positive behaviour change by choosing healthier responses instead of giving into our impulses.
This goes hand in hand with greater self-awareness.
Self-reflection helps improve performance and efficiency
When you take the time to pause and reflect on your performance, you can evaluate what you are doing well, what you could be doing better, and what might be holding you back. Thus, helping you improve your skills and abilities. Research continues to show that practitioners from professions as diverse as clinical psychologists, to teachers, to CEOs in the private sector show improved performance when they regularly engage in self-reflection.
If you do not engage in self-reflection, you are likely to continue doing things in ways that are comfortable and familiar to you, rather than questioning yourself and findings more effective and efficient ways of doing things.
To sum, the benefits of self-reflection are plentiful, and it is something that each and every one of us should be practicing, as it enables us to live healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives.
This question originally appeared on Quora.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Vessey/Unsplash