Reflection is a solo activity that brings clarity and meaning to life experiences. It is also invaluable when creating the next phase of your life. The chapter of “me too” is surfacing more as people contend with empty nests, relationship changes, job loss, retirement or health challenges. Change surrounds us and ready or not, we must make decisions. We don’t have control over what happens out there, but we do of our internal selves. To make decisions and to do it well, we are best served by taking a time out and pursuing reflection.
Within this time of reflection, we have to include our responsibility in the creation of our life as it is right now. If we want something different then we must reflect on what areas we feel need a new life map. In accepting 100% responsibility for our lives and our choices we also need to include self compassion, kindness and love. The choices we make are reflections of who we are at any given time. The truths we know of our self and others. Of how and what we think about the world and our connection to it.
Lately I have participated in or heard conversations of people attempting to determine how to build the next chapter, the “me too” chapter of their lives. Most have spent their lives in the service of others, through work, to family – extended or otherwise, and to their communities. Now, they are attempting to discover and uncover the areas that build satisfaction and energy into their daily lives. No longer satisfied with what has been, they are ready to create a focused approach. A life which meets more of their needs than the earlier status quo.
Reflection helps us navigate the deepest part of transition and yet our tendency is to side step it. Why? Because it means that we must separate ourselves from distractions and hear our inner voice. To hear this voice requires silence and time alone, two things that are becoming scarce in this age of technology. Instead of the diversions of everyday living, getting the greatest benefit from this tool means purposefully choosing periods of seclusion. Choosing reflection ushers in a time of information seeking and taking opportunities for conversations with people unafraid to talk about the deeper aspects of life. It is not a place to stay, but it is an interior space that we must guard and use so that we are able to fully delve into all aspects of our lives.
True transition and life altering changes have a beginning, middle and end. It is in the middle where it is possible to feel adrift. Why? Because we are in uncharted waters with few who will meet us there. Have you ever witnessed the abandonment of people who have experienced the loss of someone close to them? Many people are so uncomfortable with death that they choose to distance themselves in the fear of saying the wrong thing. Little do they know that there is no perfect thing to say, rather it is the act of showing up and being in the space with you that is comforting.
Reflection is about gathering resources and pulling them into the fold of consciousness. We extract what we can of the wisdom of the ages through books, time in nature, the pursuit of creative expression and discourse with those willing to explore our areas of introspection.
Reflection is a tool for personal development where we reject the lure of mindless distractions. Instead we accept the discomfort of emotions we would sooner ignore. Whatever the precipitating cause, be assured that this is not a place you will stay forever. It is a place of opportunity to redefine who you are and how you will life your life.
Journal writing as a means of reflection and stress relief
A helpful side tool to reflection is writing in a journal. Not because you are a writer but because, if you allow it, scribbling down the thoughts that swirl in your head can relieve tension. You will not share your writing with anyone. Be totally honest. No hiding behind societal and cultural norms. No polite and pretty etiquette. Get your thoughts and emotions down and then, turn them on their head and consider what you have learned from it all. What lessons are found within your experiences? To become truly responsible for your life, accept the chance to review all areas and think about where and what you will change as you move forward.
Every life changing event has both a dark and a light side. The dark side is felt as remorse and regret, anger, sadness and even grief. We feel it because we know that the person we were is shifting and we don’t know into what or how this will affect our presence in the world . Nevertheless, we are moving forward and doing so means discarding ideas and beliefs that no longer serve us. The light side is the new self that emerges, an awakening and stirring of pieces that may have been dormant. A sparkle in the eye, ready laughter and even a spring in the step are all signs of successful movement through the unknown to this new place in your life.
Each of us will experience life obstacles and disappointments. We can choose to use them or try to ignore them and go on with life as it existed before. In the event you are willing to use and not hide from them, remember the following. While you may traverse much of the darkness on your own, you have at hand the tool of reflection and a few souls willing to join you for a portion of your trip. The important changes you will make occur inside. Stay the course and know that you are exactly where you are meant to be. In time, you will surface and find that your new you is more than capable of creating the next chapter.