Why is it Important to Reflect on our Experiences?
December 8 2016
“How can you learn from this experience?”
“How do you feel?”
“Why did you behave in such a way?”
When answering these questions, you engage in the act of reflection. To be reflective means that you wander around in your mind to try and make sense of the experiences you have from day to day.
For example, let’s say that you are on your way home from a hockey game where you lost miserably to your biggest rival team. Do you sit in the back seat and pout and complain that this experience was a waste of time? Or do you reflect on some of the positive things that may have come from that loss: Was there a mistake you made during that game that more practice might help eliminate? Was there someone on the other team who had a skill that you might use for the next game? Do you have new ideas about how your team can be successful next time?
In fact, reflection can be used as a way of evaluating and creating positive outcomes for all of your experiences ranging from playing in a hockey game, to mastering a math concept, to searching for a part time job, to learning to play the guitar, or to any of things you do in your daily life.
The Importance of Reflecting
You might be wondering why it is important to reflect on your experiences. Here are four main reasons:
1. To learn from your experiences. We don’t always take the time to learn from our past experiences. When you reflect, you may choose to analyze your strengths, attitude, and behaviors in a certain situation. In doing so, you can change or develop a new approach or strategy that could be beneficial in the future.
2. To help others. What you learn and the ways in which you learn may benefit others. For example, you can self-reflect about the hockey game and share reflective talk with your teammates and coaches. Did my teammates see the same areas for improvement as I did? Did the coaches give us some new ideas about how to be successful the next game? Are there lessons we can learn about communication?
3. To celebrate your successes and improvements. As you may have guessed, it is important to take the time to acknowledge the things you have done well and are proud of. You can then build on these successes over time!
4. To gain a new perspective and help you relax. Taking a few minutes to sit down, take a deep breathe, and reflect has a very calming effect! We live busy lives and reflecting may just be what you need to look at experiences from a different perspective.
Learning to Reflect
The next time you choose to reflect on a personal experience, consider the following tips to make the most of your reflective practice:
• Pay attention to your emotions and what prompts them. Emotions reveal a lot of information about one’s experiences. As you reflect, ask yourself why you felt a certain way or why you wish you felt differently in a given situation.
• Share your strengths and successes. Don’t be shy- It is more than okay for you to be proud of what you have accomplished!
• Focus on the future. As you reflect back on the past, try and think of areas you could improve on. In other words, consider how you may approach a similar situation differently in the future. This will allow you to feel more confident when dealing with a challenging situation in the future.
• Question yourself to stir up your ‘thinking juices’:
o What did I enjoy the most or the least? Why?
o What barriers did I run into and how did I overcome them?
o What am I most proud of?
o What thoughts did I have?
o What could I improve on?
o Why is this experience important to me?
• Keep an active log or journal. To begin journaling, you may want to consider a ‘one-sentence’ journal, which involves writing one sentence (or a few) a day. You’ll be amazed by the experiences you have captured by the end of the school year!
*NOTE: If you are wondering where you can start keeping an electronic journal, myBlueprint has the solution for you! Simply create a new portfolio using the Portfolios tool and add as many journal entries as you wish. These journal entries will even be date-stamped, which will allow you to easily track and organize your experiences!
• Keep practicing! Reflection is a skill. The more you practice, the easier it will get and the more you will enjoy it.
And remember… Reflection is one of the tools you can use to bring you as close as possible to your dreams!
This blog post was written in collaboration with Norma Thompson, a myBlueprint Champion in Alberta. Would you like to be a myBlueprint staff blogger? Email support@myBlueprint.ca for more details.
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