What is it?
Self-reflection is the ability to witness and evaluate our own cognitive, emotional, and behavioural processes. We reflect in order to learn something, or we learn as a result of reflection.
How does it work?
Reflection helps you to develop your skills and review their effectiveness, rather than just carry on doing things as you have always done. It is about questioning, in a positive way, what you do and why you do it. Then deciding whether there is a better, or more efficient, way of doing it in the future.
Self-reflection is a process by which you grow your understanding of who you are, what your values are, and why you think and act the way you do. It is a form of personal analysis that allows you to bring your life into alignment with what you wish it to be.
It can give you more clarity, allowing you to look neutrally at your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions. Through this practice, we are able to look at ourselves with interest and curiosity, meaning you can:
- Learn what makes you happy
- Discover what you’re good at
- Reveal what needs improving
This can in turn improve:
- Leadership skills
How do athletes use it?
Former pro-rider Shannon Malseed, tells us more. Shannon has competed and won at the highest level, becoming Australian national road champion in 2018. Since retirement she has become a human development coach, so is very well-placed to give more insight:
“It’s so much easier to relate to when experiences don’t go well. For me there was always a process. Learning to become OK with that process was the biggest hurdle. I’m an emotional person, so I would feel a lot. I’d finish a race and feel quite disappointed personally and sometimes there would be people in the team that didn’t feel bad about their result so I had to be careful of how my emotional state was impacting the team, because after a race the emotions are intense. Once I learned that, I knew actually I just needed some time. After some recovery, nutrition, and glycogen restoration, I’d feel better. You’re coming off a lot of blood running around your body, a lot of adrenaline, a lot of emotions, a lot of stimulation, so there is a comedown. I learned I needed a shower and some food and then I’d be good.”
“I wouldn’t process it all right after the race as that didn’t work out that well for me. The best way for me was to look at things factually, rather than emotionally. So what happened? What didn’t happen? Without attaching an emotion to it.”
“Then you can know where you can improve without attaching emotion to it. That can be tough. Talking to someone who’s good at helping you process it, and staying away from those that aren’t. Or give yourself some time to not think about it. That’s ok. You don’t have to have all the answers straight away. Be honest with yourself with that process and not suppress it for eternity.”
“There’s no formula. You have to learn your own balance. If it’s an A race, it will be different to a B race for example. But it’s important to always come from a place of self-love. Allow it to process in whatever way you feel is best for you. But bring a level of honesty with yourself for that process.”
How can I use it?
The wonderful thing about self-reflection, is there are many ways to go about it, it’s all about finding what’s right for you:
- Ask yourself questions about what has gone well and what you can improve on
- Take a walk in nature
- Talk to yourself out loud
- Do some breathing exercises
- Analyse a past event
- Assess what you are grateful for
- Track your feelings
- Perform an inventory on the different areas of your life
If you are interested in delving into this topic more, check out Shannon’s website!