Throughout our daily lives, we are constantly observing and analyzing.
Whether it’s an important document for work or a confusing text from the opposite sex, we have successfully trained our brains to obtain data and examine it for deeper meaning or explanation.
While it has become second nature to think critically, the ironic part is we often forget to apply this concept to ourselves.
Introspection involves examining one’s own thoughts, feelings and sensations in order to gain insight.
Being introspective is often a rare quality in young adults, and with good reason: Slowing down and taking a breather from our crazy lives isn’t always the easiest thing to do.
In a society fixated on fast-paced environments and a “go, go, go” mentality, it’s difficult to find the time to sit down and reflect. However, setting aside a small portion of your day for self examination can be a lot more helpful than you might expect.
Here are seven ways introspection can be a positive tool in your daily life:
1. It allows you to notice negative patterns in our life.
Maybe you keep crawling back to that toxic relationship, convincing yourself that through all of the frustration and inconsistency, the person will eventually change.
Maybe you’re continuously picking up a coworker’s slack, delaying your own tasks and hurting your progress in the long run.
Whatever the case may be, introspection allows you to recognize these patterns, and how and why they have a detrimental effect on your emotions and outlook.
From there, you can consider alternate approaches to these situations and eventually, migrate away from the stressors altogether.
2. It keeps you focused on the bigger picture.
So, your unpaid internship is starting to slowly but surely feel like slave labor, and by the time five o’clock rolls around, all you can think about is drowning yourself in wine. Of course, without any experience, you can’t get your dream job – plain and simple.
When we don’t have an overall goal in mind, our daily tasks become meaningless and increasingly frustrating. Therefore, it’s important to have a clear vision of where you want to see yourself in the future.
Write it down if you have to, and don’t forget to continuously remind yourself of what you hope to ultimately accomplish. As a result, you will have a more positive attitude toward your current obligations.
3. It prevents you from worrying about things out of your control.
An infuriating traffic jam, a boss who never considers your opinions, a torrential downpour when you planned a weekend at the beach -- you get the idea. No matter how many times we’ve been told not to stress about what we can’t change, we do it anyway.
It’s difficult to realize we don’t always have total control of the outcome, and sometimes, we have no choice but to adapt to unfavorable conditions.
Introspection allows us to eventually detach from these aspects over which we have no influence, and instead, direct our energy toward things we can absolutely improve on ourselves.
4. It helps you face your fears.
We all want to be that person who can dive into any challenge headfirst and come out successful. But, let’s face it: We’re all afraid of something.
Whether it’s rejection, failure or something else entirely, introspection allows you to admit your fears to yourself and eventually learn the best way to handle them.
This can be a trial-and-error process, but simply recognizing what scares you is a great starting point.
5. It allows you to clearly define happiness on your own terms.
When are you most happy? Who do you most enjoy spending time with? What accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
These questions may seem cliché (and sound strangely like your college admission prompts), but they hold a lot of value. By recognizing the positive events in your life, you can apply your knowledge to future goals and endeavors.
For instance, if a quick phone chat with your best friend always lifts your spirits, take the time to do so every day.
Or, if you feel most accomplished after independently completing a project, start to take more initiative and exert that same self-starter attitude in your workplace.
6. It allows you to make decisions based on your conscience.
When it comes to making significant life decisions, the important people in your life will naturally have opinions. However, introspection helps you make decisions based on fully understanding what is right or wrong for you.
Make choices based on what you truly believe, without letting other people's input sway you. While it’s okay to ask for others’ advice and feedback, ultimately, trust your gut -- it won’t fail you.
Plus, by following your conscience, you’ll, in turn, feel better about the path you chose.
7. You will finally get different results.
When we continuously go through our lives the same way, we inevitably block the chance of changing things for the better.
By becoming more self-aware, we are able to have a better understanding of what we truly want in life. Naturally, this involves making changes, whether they're significant or menial.
Of course, nobody likes change. It’s uncomfortable and scary, and we seek comfort in what we know.
However, this is why it is critical to ask ourselves, is it worth it take as little as five minutes out of our day for introspection in exchange for an increased chance of happiness? Most of the time, it’s safe to say you already know the answer.