This period of self-isolation has for many, been a real time of imposed self-reflection. For some it was a long overdue pause from life, for some it was just going deeper in to what you may already do. It is important to ‘know yourself’ ­– your patterns, beliefs, thoughts and habits, if you want to create change.

Stop, reflect and ask yourself questions. Am I happy? Am I doing what I want to be doing? Am I fulfilling my dreams? Am I living each day on purpose? Am I consciously living my life?

To self-reflect effectively we need to be hearing that background noise that we all have. We want to know what it is saying. Are you listening? Is it positive? Is it negative? Is it your own voice? Your parents? Siblings? Old teachers? Bullies from school? Friends or mentors? What are you filling your mind with? These questions are vital but can be scary if you have never asked them before.

You cannot change what you are not aware of.

Our lives, our minds, are a culmination of all the things we have ever heard and thought. Our habits are often passed down from our parents, from their parents. But do those habits still serve a purpose? Your purpose. Or are you on auto-pilot? Do you always set the table a certain way? Always at 6pm because your mother did? Do you actually want it set that way? Do you want to eat at 6pm? Do you drive with one hand on the wheel because your father always did? Do you secretly wish you could sing but don’t because a singing teacher twenty years ago at school told you you have a horrible voice? It doesn’t matter what the topic is, it matters that you bring self-awareness in to your life and start asking questions.

Listen to the noise in your head, even those voices you hid away somewhere far far out the back. Hear what they are saying so you can consciously choose what you want to do from now on. Shoving them back down or ignoring them only works for so long before they simply pop back up. Habits, behaviours, even pain, doesn’t just go away. We need to recognise it, find its source, work through it, make conscious decisions in our best interest and then act on them.

You are whatever you want to be. You have control; control over thoughts, emotions, behaviours, habits, ideas and creations. You can do anything with good self-awareness, good questions, some patience and self-belief.

Who are you when you strip away the voices of society, culture, family, friends and old nemesis?

4 Steps to Productive Self-Reflection:

1. Every time you do something, ask yourself – am I choosing this? Is this what I want to do? Why do I do this?

2. Every time you think something, ask yourself – is this positive or negative? Is it what I think or is it someone elses words/a memory? Does it make me feel good or bad? Does it serve a purpose?

3. Try and listen to your gut feeling, that instinctive knowing when something feels right or wrong. Act on it.

4. Journal – if you had a good day, write about it to better understand what makes you feel good. If you had a bad day, write about to better understand what makes you feel bad. Look for habits and repetition. Try and get to the bottom things of them to find their roots and themes.

“You are braver than you believe,

and stronger than you seem,

and smarter than you think.”

Christopher Robin

in Winnie the Pooh

by A.A. Milne.