Emotional IntelligenceMindfulness

The Importance of Introspection

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In·tro·spec·tion // noun the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes.

I’ve always been told that I was a deeply introspective person. Back then, I didn’t think much about it, since it came so naturally to me. There was no hesitation or questioning on my part when it came to making the decision to use introspection in my daily life. However, I eventually learned this doesn’t come naturally to everyone and that introspection is such a useful skill in the personal development world. If more people were introspective, I feel there would be more love than hate in the world, and that thought is what I anchor onto, what I hope will happen as more and more people discover the world introspection leads you to.

So this brings me to ask: what has valuing introspection taught me?

The ability to examine, explore and get intimate with your inner conscious and feelings allows you to take responsibility for your growth. Rather than believe the circumstances of your life happen to you, introspective thinking helps you realize these things happen for you. Failures become lessons, and when you get hurt, you learn something from the process as well. You learn about what matters to you, how you view the world and others, as well as the power you have when moving forward.

It is so important to realize the magnitude of introspection, and the lesson it teaches us all. When we stop assuming the role of the victim and see life working in favor of us, we start to see the beauty in what we already have and what we could become.

What the world of introspection can bring out of you + practical exercises you can complete on your own time:

When you experience introspection, you become self aware of your actions and the rationale behind it. You look at your emotional and mental state & ask questions to help you process the events occurring in your life. When you decide to analyze and observe yourself, rather than immediately responding to your external circumstances, you can come from a place that is more:

  • Understanding
    • You begin practicing patience and gentleness with others and yourself. You respond in disagreements mindfully, with the intention to understand and not shut the other person down.
    • Exercise: Next time you find yourself in a disagreement with someone, try reframing your responses in a way that shows you are trying to understand them, not fight or win against them. When people feel targeted, they respond back with hostility. If you approach them with kindness, there is a better chance they will reciprocate that treatment.
    • i.e. Say “What is causing you to feel hurt?” rather than “You’re always so sensitive, why can’t you just see how you’re treating me?”
  • Grateful
    • You start to see what you have in front of you, rather than focusing on what you don’t have yet. Practicing gratitude is healthy and can promote everyday wellness. It can boost your mood, when you have the right intentions.
    • Exercise: After an emotionally draining event, when you are able to, write down why it was emotionally draining for you and follow up with something you are grateful to have experienced or learned because of this event that occurred.
    • i.e. Say you finished applying for multiple colleges or jobs, and you got rejected from a handful that you wanted… but heard back from a couple that offer wonderful programs in your interest of study or have better salaries for your prospective job. This is recognizing what you have and being grateful for it.
  • Compassionate
    • You show and bring more kindness into the world. It can improve your relationships all around, with both yourself and others. Treating others with compassion gives better results compared to treating others (or yourself) with heavy, negative criticism. You can be constructive without having to bring others down. This goes back to being more understanding because compassion requires self awareness of how you treat those around you (and again, how you treat yourself). You can project if you’re not aware, and introspective thinking can help you pinpoint when you’re in the act of projecting.
    • Exercise: When you feel yourself being judgmental or leaning toward responding harshly to another person or yourself, ask yourself if you would say the same thing to your younger self/a child in general. We’re kind and compassionate to children because we see so much hope in them, we recognize they have room to grow and learn, and we try to motivate them rather than make them feel bad.
  • Forgiving
    • Forgiveness is so powerful because it’s one of those things that people know is good to do, but they refuse to do it. Whether it be because they are prideful, don’t understand what good can come from forgiveness, or are spiteful, it isn’t intuitive to just “forgive” someone you feel has wronged you. So how do you work on this? This is where introspective thinking comes in.
    • Exercise: Think of a person or situation in which someone has wronged you: a bully from high school, a friend no longer in your life, or even a family member who pushes your buttons. Name the action(s) that rub you the wrong way and have caused you to not want to forgive them. Now respond to what you’ve written by saying, “despite insert what they did here, you have taught me…”
      • To put myself first more often
      • That I need to have boundaries when I’m in your presence
      • What a good friendship can be
      • That when we are immature, young and learning, we tend to project our insecurities, sometimes without knowing
      • … and the examples can go on.
    • Shifting your perspective to one that is more forgiving is a result of self awareness that stems from introspective thinking. See how that came full circle?

Now that I’ve given you an explanation for why introspection is so important, do you feel like you’ll practice it more often? Would you say that you are an introspective person?

I hope these exercises and examples have enlightened you!

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