3 self-reflection mistakes to avoid

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I'm sharing a personal lesson here, in my own life & coaching clients. If this resonates, please let me know by hitting one of the buttons below.

This is it:

We know there is too much of a good thing.

Too much food. Too much exercise. Too much fun (?).

And also: too much self-reflection.

Here's what I have experienced - how about you? ...

  • Running circles in your mind about a problem.
  • Trying to bring more structure to it through journaling. You get some clarity & insight which encourages you to reflect more.
  • But that reflection brings new ideas and insights that do not fit or contradict the previous reflections.
  • Or perhaps you've had coaching and the conversation feels stale, and progress is very slow.

These are symptoms of too much self-reflection.

It feels like blasphemy to say, because much of the value of coaching (and personal development, leadership development, therapy) is based on encouraging and structuring self-reflection.

Self-reflection has its place. And this is it:

Action --> Reflection --> Action - and so on. This is learning theory 101, simplified.

Perhaps somewhere in the middle you could add Theory/New input as in from a training, reading book, an insightful conversation.

This quote from Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi's 'Flow' really hits home:

“keeping order in the mind from within is very difficult. We need external goals, external stimulation, external feedback to keep attention directed. And when external input is lacking, attention begins to wander, and thoughts become chaotic” p. 169

And this makes total sense (no need to reflect on this too much), if you look at highly effective people. And if you look at the research on meaning, flow, or psychotherapy.

Based on that, there are 3 mistakes to avoid:

  • Don't break your head about what makes you happy. Don't even pursue happiness (sorry, if you're from the US). Rather, happiness happens, as the psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said. It happens, he says, as a side-effect of pursuing something that is meaningful to us (please check out the quote below as the way Frankl captured this idea is mind-blowing).
  • If you're not clear yet about what is 'meaningful', do what you enjoy. Not the kind of Netflix pleasure that is Ok short-term but that we don't feel good about long-term. Rather, do what gives you flow: working on a goal that is challenging and requires your full focus.
  • Never only think, without getting active physically. Go for a walk or run. Check in with how you feel, that is: what you feel in your body.

There's so much more to say here and I might write an article where I dive deeper and also link it more to what it means for being in politics.

If you'd find that valuable, let me know by pressing one of the buttons below.

p.s. 👇 below, find the latest podcast, what I'm currently reading/listening to and my favourite quote this week

🎙️ My latest podcast

Six leadership styles you need to know (and use)
We explore the six leadership styles of Daniel Goleman (author who popularized the concept of Emotional Intelligence). And: how can you use it to lead more effectively? Find out more on https://politicwise.org, on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/politicwise/ and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.c…

📚 What I read & listen to

'Flow' by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly (pronounced: MEE-hy CHEEK-sent-mee-HAH-yee).

This legend's classic book was lying on my desk for ages. I thought I'd known enough of the concept of flow. But his book brings flow to life. Even a link to politics there.

If you understand the concept of Flow and go 80/20 here, I would not recommend it. But if the concept resonates and you want to immerse yourself in a core concept for how to achieve happiness, go for it!

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D. | Authentic Happiness

🖋️ My favourite quote

“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it” - Viktor Frankl