Self-reflection is not something we start off being amazing at, at lest not most of us. Being able to exercise introspection and grow our emotional intelligence comes with practice and patience. For myself it has taken years of learning as well as time in 1-1 therapy session and group therapy. It has been a process of learning to quiet down all of my opinions and ideas in order to allow deeper perspectives to come to the surface.
Below are some foundational questions you can use to slowly begin a routine for better understanding your emotions as they come up. You can tailor these questions as needed and even branch out in deeper ones as you get more comfortable. I find that writing really helps with this as it allows me to flip back to answers and reread certain thought processes instead of having my already overwhelmed brain remember my answers.
As you take new steps towards self-reflection, remember that it is okay to feel frustrated or want to give up as we begin to feel our walls come down and closed doors in our memory reopen. What is important is that you not shut down or quit the process, and instead allow yourself the grace to walk at your needed pace. You CAN do it, and you will so appreciate the end result!
- Ask “What” and “Why”.
- These are honestly the best questions you could ask yourself when you feel lost in a storm of emotions or confusion. It leaves things open ended so that you can explore different areas of your thoughts before zeroing in on what you want to further understand.
- What am I feeling?
- Be specific on emotions and physical symptoms.
- Why do I feel this way?
- Is it fear driven? Circumstantial? A system of belief rooted in past experience?
- For the above sub questions, ask Why again?
- Why do I fear X outcome? Why does this circumstances make me feel X?
- Is my current action/plan a healthy approach to a solution/management of X situation ?
- Why/ or Why not?
- What would be my ideal outcome to X situation which is causing me to feel X, Y, Z (ie.anxiety/worry/depression/fear)?
- Is the above outcome realistic? If not, what would be a more realistic outcome?
- What is the worst that can happen?
- How would I manage the above answer?
- What steps can I take right now to help how I am feeling?
- What steps can I take right now to manage the current outcome of X circumstance in a healthier way?
- sometimes this can be walking away or setting boundaries
- How do I feel after understanding X feeling better?
- Don’t be afraid to go deeper if there are still areas that you don’t quite understand. Emotions are like layered dips (or onions)- many coats and layers! It takes time to really get to the root of some of our bigger stressors. Start where you can, step back when needed, and re-ask questions as you feel to do so.
Do you have questions you usually use to help you better understand your emotions or a difficult situation? Share them with everyone on a comment below!