When someone tells you to self-reflect, what is the first thing you feel? Probably a little anxiousness. But why does this happen? One of the main reasons is that we have to look inwards and investigate our own selves. What if this is not my true purpose in life? How can I make myself a better person? Is there a way to do that now? These are some of the questions that I will address in this post and also talk a little bit about my life-journey on self-reflection and where am I in it. But in case you missed the first part, here is a link to read that post https://meghamathur.com/2020/06/28/part-1-introduction-to-self-reflection/
THE “PHONY” FEELING:
You must be thinking right about now “Whoa! This is the first thing she leads with?!!” But it is important to understand what this means and how it can interfere with the process. When somebody decides to self-reflect, the ultimate goal is to make yourself feel happy but at the same time, it can also lead to delusions. Let’s understand this with an example.
There is a person who is working full-time in a corporation and is making decent money. One day, this person sits down and thinks “I don’t feel happy where I am” and starts the process of “self-reflection” Upon self-reflecting, they realize that their dream was to play guitar at professional level. So, they quit their job and join a band. After a few months to a year, s/he realizes that s/he is not as good as they had thought and the decision that they had made was a bad one. So was it a problem of their self-reflection?
The answer is not that simple. This is where the “Phony Feeling” comes into place. Upon the process of self-reflection, this person sent themselves into a place of delusion. When you feel like you have lost a part of yourself, your mind can take you into a number of possible delusions to satisfy that feeling of “lacking” somewhere. These delusions can be so strong that you can feel like a super human-being when you go after them. You live in that delusion for some time and then soon realize that this was not truly what you had wanted.
You also need to understand that people who “think” they are self-aware could also be the same people who are unhappy in their lives because they SELF-REFLECT ON THEIR WANTS. Confusing?? I can understand your dilemma. So, let us go back to the example of the person who decided to leave their job and play the guitar on a professional level.
When this person decided to self-reflect, it was at a point in their life when they were not happy. They were looking for alternatives in their life and found a medium to provide a relief to the unhappiness. They thought the self-reflection, reflected a long lost desire from their unconscious and it became their “calling” But this at some point in their life must have been a WANT- to pursue a passion. So they pursued their WANT.
This can lead to people feeling more unhappy and anxious because the process of self-reflection did not work. People focus on the “WHY” of their problems when self-reflecting: “Why am I feeling this way?” or “Why am I not happy where am I am” rather than focusing on the WHAT of the process. Questions like “What am I going to do about this feeling” or “What is going to make me happy where I am” produces the answers we need. Another key-point to understand is that self-reflection should come from a happy place and not an unhappy one.
WHY ARE WE SCARED TO SELF-REFLECT?
IT TAKES US OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONE:
As humans, we live in our own bubbles. This includes our family, our friends, and anything that makes us happy- so we live in a status-quo situation. Nothing moves us out of that bubble until we are compelled to; and the only reason that can happen is because we sat down and reflected. Again, it would have been on the “Why” of the situation. Many people stop pursuing their life dreams because it would take them out of their comfort zone and into the unknown. The only way we can achieve and unlock our true potential is by self-reflecting on what our purpose in life is- where are we seeing our life go. And those are some tough questions to face.
WE LIVE LIFE LIKE WE ARE TAUGHT TO:
As children we are told to finish school, go to university, work, buy a home, have children (or not), work hard, save money and then retire. Sound familiar? You must be somewhere on that timeline I am assuming? When we lead such busy lives, there is no time to sit and self-reflect. What will we self-reflect about? It would seem that at all junctures in the said time-line we are seemingly happy, does it not? Life is content and it circles back to our bubble- why do anything to destabilize that bubble. But here is a tough question that I will ask you- are you happy? I mean truly happy? In that time-line of things, did you do anything for yourself or were you always living for others? Something to ponder upon, I guess.
WE SUB-CONSCIOUSLY BURY OUR DREAMS:
Once we are in the rat-race and the bubble of our lives, we bury the aspirations that we might have had in our lives. The simple answer to do any other thing in our life is “I don’t have the time” Sound familiar? Yes, for anyone working a 9-5 job, it is not possible to pursue anything else because of the fast-pacing world. We achieve a lot of things in our lives but when we sit down and reflect- the only thing that is regretted is not pursuing that one dream that would have made us whole.
SO, HOW DO WE FIND OUR PURPOSE?
Finding your purpose in life is what most of us always ask ourselves. What are we doing and Why are we doing it? What scares us is the answer – we do not know. Most of us will find that answer along our journey which could be ranging from helping others or pursuing a life-long hobby in adjunct to your daily livelihood. I will explain how I found my purpose in life through self-reflection as an example.
This story begins when I was in college pursuing a degree to become a dentist but even while studying to become one, my heart was not into it. I knew deep down that dentistry was not my true calling. But, I graduated and started to work as a Lecturer in India. Then, I moved to Canada and it was there that I asked myself- Do I really want to be a Dentist? If this was not what I was supposed to do, then what? What was my purpose in life then? Remember, how I mentioned that we bury our dreams deep in our subconscious minds? Well, one night, a message was relayed to my conscious mind – how about psychology? do you think that is what your purpose is? It’s funny because that revelation came as a question in my mind, not as an answer.
I, immediately knew that the path of Psychology was truly what I was seeking. I wanted to help people by making them feel happy. That was what I perceived as my true calling. I was ready to pursue that dream and I have not looked back ever since. But was I scared? Was I scared that I was disillusioning myself? Absolutely!! But once I made the jump, I had that nice warm, fuzzy feeling of true happiness.
Along the way, I discovered my old hobbies that I was not able to pursue such as artwork. I enjoyed coloring and do it whenever I find time. Attached here is my piece of art that I am particularly proud of.
My process of self-reflection led me to a place that I feel content with because I make the time to do the things that I truly enjoy. I also realized that I would rather sit and do my artwork than sit in front of the television.
My point to you all reading this is that it is never too late to self-reflect in your life and find your purpose.
Like always, if you like this post then please share it! Part 3 of the series will tackle how self awareness will help you in real life.