Have you noticed that many of the apps you use like to send you a ‘review of the year’ at about this time? Whether that’s the songs you listened to most, an overview of your step count, or a snapshot of your most liked posts on social media, there’s a reason that companies like to do this: recapping our activity over the past 12 months helps remind us of the achievements we’ve made, the fun we had, and gives us warm glow of fondness and satisfaction.
It might seem like a cliched and superficial thing to do, but doing the same exercise with ourselves can be a powerful and therapeutic tool that gives us the opportunity and headspace to see what we usually fail to notice in our busy lives. We can recognise our achievements, understand our actions and the reasoning behind them, learn lessons from mistakes and generally assess whether we’re happy with how we’ve spent our time. It can also help us to understand difficult things that have happened and begin the process of acceptance.
By acknowledging problems we have faced, we can recognise what we did well or what could have gone better, which allows us to grow and develop as an individual. We can gain insight into our inner capabilities and learn how to tackle challenges in the future. Without taking the time to look back, we may be destined to keep doing the same thing over and over – at best, this may mean that we don’t make positive changes; at worst, it could mean that we keep repeating patterns of behaviour that end up being detrimental to us.
Self-reflection also encourages us to feel gratitude, which is incredibly important for wellbeing. Gratitude helps us to appreciate the good things in life, to see value in the simple things, and to be content with what we have. It also helps us value the people in our life, as well as understand the value that we bring to others. It can boost self-esteem and life satisfaction, decrease anxiety and stress, and build resilience and tolerance.
It can take courage to look at ourselves and reflect on what we’ve done – if difficult things happened, it can be uncomfortable to revisit them, or to think about our actions if we think we could have done something differently. It’s important to be kind to yourself, and try not be overly self-critical when reflecting on experiences and behaviours. Being judgemental to yourself can cause you to end up in a negative cycle of thought that can be self-defeating. Focus on what you can control, and try to recognise the things that you can’t so that you can begin to let them go.
Increased self-awareness helps us get to know ourselves better – we begin to understand what we feel, why we feel it, and how to manage it. This allows us to make better informed decisions, and can help us feel more grounded and in control.
You can do this in lots of different ways: you could choose a quiet time to think it all through, you could write a journal, you could even take a look back at all your moments in the YU app. Whatever way works best for you, consider setting aside some time over this Christmas period to reflect on your year, and your self – it may help give you a good foundation for the new year ahead, and if you’re going to start a new habit, what more valuable thing to do than get to know yourself better.
Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash