Looking from a distance at your own thinking patterns, actions, drama, neuroses, habits, unpleasantness, and other stuff that is part of your doings, and subsequently analysing and diagnosing the resulting package in hopes to perhaps arrive at a better version of yourself; it seems to be quite fashionable.
Reflection and self-reflection are the hip labels for this and are part of revenue models of coaches, mentors, and other wild game in the (self)help industry.
One used to be asked to think about something good and deep. Nowadays one is asked to reflect on it.
I read on a website: "Learning to look at yourself objectively and being realistic about it will lead to huge steps in your development." This skill is mentioned in the same paragraph as important next to someone's professional career*.
I would be the last to disqualify the importance of reflection and self-reflection - after all, I am writing a (self-help) book on this theme - but something has to be said about it.
Is it possible, as suggested in the web article, to look at yourself objectively?
I get mightily irritated in traffic. The busier it is on the road, the greater my annoyance and irritation. Now I'm going to look at my annoyance from a distance. Where does it come from and what can I do to get into a symbiotic state of mind that is positioned somewhere between indifferent Zen (the rest of the world doesn't interest me and isn't actually there) and a permanent Evangelical smile (I don't feel happy but pretend that I am); for me the ideal outcome of the exercise.
The object in the car:
- Wonders why the rest of the world needs to be on the road when he is driving on it.
- Feels that most motorists rush from A to B to sell something their fellow man doesn't need (including those involved in ridiculous Eurovision Song contests, its suppliers, and all sorts of door-to-door sellers). We need to get them off the road immediately, if necessary right through the guardrail or through ditches.
- Is frustrated with himself because, while on the road, he himself participates in the gigantic waste of resources. His convictions about (ethical) stewardship only reinforce that frustration.
- By disposition, he is annoyed with all other motorists except on early Sunday mornings when he drives from A to B to proclaim the Good News somewhere in the country. The reason for the absence of his annoyance is that at that time almost all other asphalt claimers are still in the sack and can’t be bothered about God.
Reflections and preliminary conclusions:
- Jan's annoyance is related to the traffic and his worldview.
- Jan does not permit the other person his/her piece of asphalt and believes that he is entitled to more asphalt than the other.
Objectification is usually still possible; describe what the object in question does, what it looks like, what happens when you stick a fork in it, etc.
However, looking at yourself objectively is a form of self-delusion. It is impossible to take off the glasses with which you look at the other person, the world, and yourself. That is probably the most important positive result of a self-reflection exercise; acknowledge and admit that everything is already colored because you have colored glasses on. This acknowledgment might miraculously result in creating space for the other person and granting him/her a little more asphalt or, as Jan would put it: "Well".
* (https://www.yacht.nl/carriere/skills/zelfreflectie visited May, 21).