I think a lot. And I thought I was pretty good at reflection.
But what I learned is that I’m pretty good at introspection.
So, what’s the difference?
Introspection is when I look inside and examine my own thoughts and feelings.
Reflection is a more curious word. The Latin root of reflection is to ‘bend back’ – reflection is the process of changing the direction of a light or sound wave.
Introspection is having an ‘aha’ about myself.
Reflection is changing something about myself because of that ‘aha’.
Without reflective change, introspection is like a dead end cul-de-sac. I may spend a lot of time driving round and round the cul-de-sac, but I won’t go far.
For my journey in life to actually take me someplace besides the cul-de-sac, I have found that I have to do more than think about my life. I have to do more than read a book or blog about how to change my life. I even have to do more than think about the changes I would like to make.
True reflection is a transformative process that requires me to actually make a change in my life.
I recently wanted to make a change in my life. I was advised not to do it. Instead, I was first asked to keep a daily log of each time the habit came up and – very importantly – jot down the cost of my action. The damage it did, what it got in the way of, what it kept me from.
I’m about a week into the process. Before I started logging the habit, I ‘thought’ that the best way to change would be to identify the problem and commit to changing. After all, that’s what I’ve always done (not that I’ve gotten great results from what I’ve always done, but that’s another blog).
After counting the cost for a week, the aha and desire to change is more visceral, more emotional. Once I’ve seen the cost, I can’t go back. My direction has to change.
This is transformative reflection.