I find that, mostly during seasons of transitions, many of us go back to the drawing board and check in with ourselves, looking at what needs to be readjusted and what goals need shifting (Personal or otherwise). The COVID-19 Pandemic has been a catalyst for many of us to engage in frequent introspection. According to google, Introspection is defined as “the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes.” Many of us have had to evaluate where we are, the work we do, and redefine our overall sense of purpose, because of the discomfort and vulnerability this pandemic has created. Many have involuntarily lost so much, and during or after a much needed grieving season, we are getting back up with a revised lens through which we perceive life.
In the late 1800s, Wilhelm Windt developed the original idea of introspection and his work later on, established the field of cognitive psychology (McLeod, 2008) Windt focused on 3 areas of mental functioning; thoughts, feelings and images.
So why should we introspect? Dr. Poppenk of Queens university, has found that humans have more than 6,000 thoughts per day, by being able to identify the end of an old thought and the beginning of a new one. That number can be overwhelming and when we don’t take the time and effort to refocus our thoughts, we would be easily derailed by the fast paced life we live. As there is a toxic extreme of doing anything, there are toxic ways to introspect; which can lead us to feel anxious, and many other undesirable emotional and psychological discomfort. There is however a productive way to be introspective. A good place to begin, is by asking ourselves more “what” questions than we do “why” questions. According to Eurich, 2017, “why” questions tend to stir up more negative thoughts, while “what” questions keep us curious about ourselves, and draw us to a more positive future.
According to a journal article “87 self-reflection questions for introspection” written by Courtney E. Ackerman, there is a bank of questions we can use to begin and guide our introspective journeys. And for some, you will need to journal to help process those thoughts, feelings and images more intentionally. Some of these questions are to jump start the self reflection process, others are to get to know ourselves better. Here are a few you can start on…
- What have I given up on?
- What do I need to change about myself?
- What act of kindness was I once shown, that I will never forget?
- The words I’d like to live by are….
- Am I putting enough effort into my relationships?