A wellness journey is no different from a physical one: the path will get difficult, overgrown, washed out, detoured, and sometimes disappear. Through perseverance, we find the path again or overcome the difficulties encountered in the journey. Self-reflection functions as rocky terrain: it requires heavy emotional lifting that bogs you down and hinders forward movement. If you are training yourself to meet your personal goals, the resistence builds you up to tackles the next stage in your life’s journey.
It’s April, and you may have dropped any idea of completing your New Year’s Resolutions but know that you can still make those goals. The “New Year” is just a date, and it’s always a good time to get started on your life goals. For the sake of your own wellbeing, consider taking the next couple of weeks (in blog posts) to self-reflect even if you’ve decided to completely reject your goals.
What’s Ahead: the Difficulties in Self-Reflection
What should you expect in the next two weeks of posts?
I will be using the lens of self-reflection to review three parts of my life: pre-diagnosis, during the diagnosis process, and post-diagnosis. Within these posts, I will provide exercises for you to reflect on the same moments you encountered in your journey.
The goal will be to see where you were, where you are, and where you are going in your life as it is. Think of it as the famous Christmas story: we’ll be visiting three “ghosts” in our lives to see how we can change our current life’s trajectory.
The tough part is the level of honesty required. When self-reflecting, it’s easy to rationalize certain thoughts and behaviors rather than being honest.
I am not able to get a certain task done because I am too overwhelmed. My illness prevents me from achieving a professional goal. When I am in a better emotional place, I can finally learn that hobby I’m interested in.
The truth is this: you have to be honest about why you are not getting a task done and why you feel overwhelmed. Is it because you don’t actually want to get it done or completing the job makes you feel worse than avoiding it? Is your illness actually preventing you from achieving your professional goal or are you using it as an excuse to justify mediocre work?
I know that sounds harsh, but the truth we avoid is the one that holds us back from achieving our goals. With the next set of posts, I will ask you to be honest with yourself, so let us acknoledge the frustrating nature of self-reflection.
Back in February, I discussed the importance of self-compassion. As you reflect, remember to be compassionate with yourself as you begin to uncover your truth.
A quick refresher: self-compassion is being kind to yourself in the same way you would be sympathetic to a friend or loved one. Imagine a friend approaches you with the same fears, concerns, and scenarios you are experiencing. What comfort or advice would you provide them? Take that same advice and apply it to yourself.
Remember to take it easy on yourself, be kind when you hit a roadblock, but find a healthy and workable detour.
Taking a Much Needed Break
While we will be moving forward with working towards our goals, be okay with needing to take a step back. If you need to take a break, there is nothing wrong with giving yourself the time. The process it took to get to your current state didn’t happen overnight, nor will the process to get out of it.
Engage with self-care, go out and do something for yourself. Take yourself out on a date. Honor what your mind and body tell you. Just remember to re-engage with the wellness process, even if you don’t want to. There’s a difference between taking a break and avoiding the issue altogether.
Self-reflection is like any sort of physical exercise. Sometimes you have to push a little harder when it hurts in order to achieve your desired results. Like with exercise, be sure to do it in a safe manner to prevent causing harm.
Consider Outside Help
Because I am not a medical professional, any advice I give in my posts may not fit you. Consider reaching to an outside source if you think your self-reflection will take you down a problematic emotional path. Sometimes the things we discover ourselves are upsetting, or memories/emotions come up that are too much to handle alone.
If you aren’t in therapy but think you need the outside help, consider finding someone. There are many options available, including reputable apps, so finding the right fit is easier no matter the location. While I haven’t tried one for myself, these are ideal if your chronic illness affects your mobility.
If you don’t think therapy will work for you, but you have someone in your life whom you can speak with, approach them to see if they would be willing to help as you self-reflect.
Asking for help is not a weakness, it’s recognizing the current life-load temporarily requires a helping hand. We are social creatures, so doubtless you will find someone who wants to help see you through this journey.
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