The Importance of Mindful Reflection
I feel like our society is typically so preoccupied with where we’re going and how we plan to get there that we often forget to look back and give ourselves much-deserved recognition for how far we’ve already come. And, sure, I know too much looking back can result in nostalgia and an unhealthy obsession with a past that no longer exists, but I feel like constantly looking forward runs similar risks that we are far less likely to talk about. What happens when we get so wrapped up in the hustle that we forget what we’re even hustling for!? I find that, at least for me, the solution to avoiding the need for that question is regular, mindful reflection.
So, let’s be honest—words like ‘mindful’ and ‘reflection’ get thrown around a lot and it seems like every person that uses them intends for them to have a different meaning. Instead of getting into a debate of the TRUE meaning of either, let it suffice for me to tell you what my personal interpretation of these terms are. When I think about being ‘mindful’ I’m thinking about being aware of myself and, in turn, of the underlying (and often subconscious) beliefs, emotions, and ‘programming’ that goes into my everyday. In this particular case, ‘mindful reflection’ for me means not only being conscientious in the present, but looking back with awareness and using the idea that “hindsight is 20-20” to my advantage.
So often, we hear this expression applied to negative things such as decisions we now recognize to have been stupid. However, the inverse is also true! When I recently read back through my 2018 journal I was overcome with both compassion for 2018 Dani’s worries yet also peace and satisfaction for where I’m at now. That’s because despite constantly being on a loop of feeling more or less content with myself and my ability to reach my goals and be the person I want to be on a daily basis, when I was able to look back with clear vision and relive exactly what I was feeling at this time last year I recognized just how far I’ve come.
Perhaps not everyone would have the same experience as me, but I imagine that if you took the opportunity to look back with your 20-20 goggles, you’d find something similar. It’s AMAZING to think about where I was this time last year (financially just making ends meet in order to have the experience of living on my own [despite my actual apartment situation being less than ideal], being deep into the bureaucratic process of house-hunting, anticipating the big life change of moving in with my partner, etc) and to realize that so many of my stressors just a few months ago no longer exist! So many of the problems I was anxious about ran their course and/or I found the needed strength to overcome them! So many of my daily realities back then are simply nonexistent today!
Of course, not everything from a year ago was bad and so some of the realities that once existed are things that I miss but, on the whole, I feel like so many of the things I talked about wanting to make into habits for myself and goals I wanted to accomplish have happened and that’s worth celebrating! However, how many of them did I actually celebrate along the way?
Sometimes it’s easy to overlook our accomplishments because, as we work towards an objective, it often grows. While we may start off thinking thoughts like “let’s create a blog” it quickly turns into “and a social media presence...and create video content...and engage with our followers regularly in Insta stories…...and send out a monthly newsletter...” and you can see where I’m going. On the way to our third and fourth and fifth additions to what we originally set out to do we often forget how amazingly we’re doing at the original goal!
I see this not only in my professional life but also in my personal journey. As I’ve shared before I’m a believer in the Law of Attraction and the importance of “setting our energy” so that we experience life from a proactive, rather than reactive point-of-view. By doing so we can attract the goodness we seek to us through the good vibes we put out into the universe. It’s a little woo-woo, sure, but I do believe that if we’re able to fully harness it (setting aside most everything society has taught us our whole lives) that we can reap great rewards.
The problem is that it’s FAR easier said than done! It’s HARD not to let your emotions be triggered by what happens in your life and to not let things get to you, but to choose your mood instead. It’s hard to stay in a high emotional state day after day because, quite frankly, I’m not sure that it’s possible for me, at least not at this stage. But what often happens is that I hone in on the one day that I felt amazing and that I was totally in the flow and everything I sought after was easily achieved...and then use this as evidence that the other six days of the week were not up to par.
What my recent mindful reflection has prompted me to realize, however, is that those ‘high’ days are what I used to talk about as seemingly impossible to obtain! I’ve reached a level that I couldn’t imagine a year ago and this sort of energetic state is becoming more and more frequent in my life, propelling me to be more successful and happy. How awesome is that!?
I guess what I find so refreshing and reassuring about reflection is the opportunity to see things from the outside looking in for once. For most of us, the running banter in our minds is not always kind and not always calm. However, when I get to write down my thoughts in a journal I feel a sense of release which I recently realized becomes twofold when I get to go back months or years later with the clarity that more revolutions on this planet has granted me.
If you don’t currently keep a form of a journal for yourself, I highly recommend starting one! Because the truth is that, while I remember all the events and milestones that I wrote about, I didn’t remember the depth and range of the emotions that accompanied them nor the day-to-day struggles. As Amy Morin says, “The only person you should compare yourself to is the person that you were yesterday.” But I’m gonna take it a step further and say that if you REALLY want to see how you’re doing, take a look back (in as much detail as you can) at the person you were last year. I bet you you’ll surprise yourself!
P.S. So, do I feel as awesome about my week today as I did about my past year reading through my journal last week? No… if I’m being honest with you I've allowed myself to tailspin into the negativity and stress again for pretty much no reason. But I, like everyone, am a work in progress and so I am simply thankful to have been reminded of of my journey and how far I've come. On the more difficult days, it's nice to know I have that reassurance of how far I’ve come (written from a younger Dani, no less) available to me at any time I may need.