Intro to Introspection

April 1st, 2022

Audio version of the blog to hear tone and to allow you to multitask while listening.

Questions! That’s basically what this blog is about today. Depending on the intentions, questions usually lead to gaining knowledge. Understanding that asking questions is not limited to classrooms or jobs, but it’s also used in getting to know another person. We can take this basic concept and start learning about that portion of yourself that you haven’t fully gotten to know yet. Introspection is gaining a better understanding of your mental and emotional processes, and how can one do this? Asking yourself questions. We spend a lot of time asking others about themselves, not only to benefit from their experiences and wisdom to better ourselves, but to also learn about their interests and try to support them by utilizing this information and understanding what makes them feel various emotions. Possibly in return, it will also peak your interest, create a dialogue, and even form a relationship with this person (small or big).

Today, I want to use the methods that we use for other people on ourselves.  Let’s get to know you today.  Being an inquisitive person definitely helps with the introspective avenue of life, and from a young age we have all practiced in some form or another how to ask questions. Now let’s use what you’ve already learned and start narrowing it down to what questions to ask yourself; when is a good time to ask yourself;  and how to ask yourself questions.  When doing this, we are able to better understand what makes us tick and our needs.  In return (if communicated) this will help others understand us too and allow us to process situations with a bit more light than we tend to do normally.  This could help us get passed the limitations we have due the tribulations we didn’t fully understand. 

Again, as previously mentioned in my other blogs, it may not be your time to attempt this, but when you’re ready this will be here for you as a resource. This also has been what I’ve learned throughout my decades of using introspection to help navigate through the world. Please know that if you will be participating in this or using this in the future, it will take more energy than you may have in that day and that is something you will want to take into consideration before attempting it. Certain thoughts may come along with questions you ask yourself that you may not feel you’re ready to work through yet, and this is okay too. The idea here is to be honest with yourself. With that, just like someone you love, you should be patient, non-judgmental, and compassionate towards your inner thoughts. Remember, you’re getting to know someone, so approach yourself like you would a stranger. Don’t get me wrong, some reactionary emotions and ideas may arise, but that’s something we’re trying to work through by understanding why those reactions may occur. Another thing to take note of is that afterwards you probably will be mentally drained and that’s part of it. You are mentally working out, and just like when you physically work out, you exert a certain amount of energy. You may be very new to this and like most things you’re new at, you need a lot of practice before you feel like a natural at it. Even though talent supposedly comes naturally it still takes a lot of work and time to refine it. You have been with yourself for many years, but if you never fully dove into the depths of your mind, there will be some or a lot of barriers you need to work through. So after this, make sure to take some time to yourself to re-energize; sit with the emotions you’re feeling; possibly write them out; figure out what you want to do with those thoughts and emotions going forward; and then re-enter the world where others exist. If you continue to work on this, then you hopefully will build up stamina because not only will you know how to speak to yourself, you will also be letting go of some of those hurdles (negative reactions or embedded thoughts) that take more energy to get through and allowing yourself to use that time and energy to focus on what you’re trying to learn about yourself that day.

Let’s start this by asking a basic question, “How was your day?” I want you to take notice how you initially answer this question in your mind. How you would answer this question if a stranger asked you compared to a loved one. Normally people will start by answering with how their work day was, or what they did in their day avoiding the actual mention of any emotions they may be feeling or have felt throughout the day. Others may gloss over it by saying, “it was okay,” because they’re summarizing how they’re feeling in that moment and may not want to divulge how their day actually was as it may bring up bad feelings they don’t want to feel again. Then there are those people, who will go into details about their day, how those moments made them feel, why they felt the way they did, and what they did to work through those moments. The last way of answering that question is the closest path one must take to be introspective. If one wants to learn about introspection they must learn how to ask themselves questions and how to answer those questions in detail. Basically like what we learned about creating a stories in grade school or articles in journalism class, we can breakdown ourselves by asking the essentials: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How? We are able to use the information we obtain from these questions to better understand why we react the way we do, and what we can do to work through obstacles that have come up and that may come up again in the future.

Taking the information from the above paragraph, we can implement those questions and use them to learn about the emotions that we’re feeling in different circumstances. Life is all about various moments in which we will have an emotional response.  There are positive, negative, and indifferent depending on how you view the world.  We handle each moment in different ways depending on many factors that I’m sure you’ve heard in many areas of life, be it how we were raised; baggage from previous relationships; or even ignorance from limited encounters.  

We tend to embrace the positive in an attempt to hold on to that feeling for as long as we can. We discredit it for reasons that vary be it jadedness, numbness, or historical occasions in which we were taught it’s not a big deal or we can’t trust it.  Accept it as a part of life and appreciate it for a limited time. Even quickly move on as we already let go of that moment for a new positive one that has a fresher feeling.

Now let’s move on to the emotion most people tend to strongly struggle with (when I say this, I do know many people struggle with positivity as well), negativity.  Our response to negativity may be similar to positivity.  We may embrace it and hold onto it for too long while it consumes us and those around us; we may let it go quickly, attempting to mask it with positivity, use escapism to forget, or distract ourselves in hopes we don’t have to sit with the emotions that deplete our energy and, well, aren’t fun to feel; and then there’s the route of introspection, which is allowing ourselves time to feel, reflect, and hopefully resolve.

Example questions to ask yourself: 

  • What route do you take when you start to feel these emotions?
  • Why do you take that specific route? Is it because you are finding a silver lining, needing to shy away from a negative thought, or are you too exhausted to handle them now and keep putting it off until a time that may never happen (oh our beloved friend, procrastination)?
  • Who (if anyone) taught you to feel that way when the emotion emerges: past relationships, family, a therapist, or even yourself through many discussions, resources, and experiences?
  • How do you utilize that emotion to benefit you? Do you recall a positive memory later on when you’re feeling bad or do you use a negative memory to raise a red flag for a new person?
  • When does that emotion tend to go away? Did you work through it or are you avoiding it with coping mechanisms such as escapism?
  • Where does your mind go when something positive occurs: is there a comforting memory, distrust, quickly forgetting about that initial feeling? Where does your mind go during a negative moment: is there a past experience, avoidance, projection, or frustration?

Feeling the negative emotions is a slippery slope. As mentioned before if not handled with care it can go a route that isn’t helpful to oneself but instead it can take over our mindset and affect us, people around us, and future encounters.  What helps me is knowing that if I retain and breakdown this moment I can hopefully prevent a similar one from occurring in the future by learning how to handle things differently now compared to struggling with it later on or relying on a coping mechanism that doesn’t resolve the problem.  

When is the right time to work through something? 

Initially to calm myself down, I will use escapism to give myself time away from that reactionary feeling so I can revisit it later on with a clearer mindset. The more I practiced introspection the less I would need to escape. The issue with escapism is that if you don’t come back to the problem that lead you to escaping, it can end up with the problem being unresolved and potentially build into bigger issues later on, not only with yourself but with others involved. Also, when the feelings are fresh, you can learn to ask yourself certain questions on why these are your initial reactions to the situation that came up. I know saying it here is easier than in the moment, but again, with persistence and patience eventually you may be able to catch yourself during those reactionary moments. A good practice, if you are unable to work through them in that moment, is to write down how you are feeling, what was said to you before things escalated, and then come back to it later to dissect it even further.

What would give you motivation to approach your emotions more directly, even if it may feel daunting?

What helps motivate me to come back to the issue is knowing there’s a chance for me to evolve and also repair something that probably is broken.  I also accept that just like anything, it will take time and energy to work through it, but I know in the long run it is important to do.  Living in the moment we often forget that the choices we make now do play a part in the cause and effect part of life.  Introspection is a huge part in helping us through a negative or positive portion of life so try to make time and put in the effort because it is an important part of life a lot of people are not fully experiencing.

How would you want others to speak to you when approaching a problem? 

I want to repeat that the initial stage of introspection may come with a reactionary defense mechanism that was established long ago. You may project, resent, or even feel guilt.  This is normal, based on how a lot of us learned how to survive in this world.  This is part of it and why we need work through the reactionary and push forth the constructive thoughts where eventually those will be more prevalent. Something that will help us through this tough portion will be how you ask yourself questions.  Knowing that your intentions are only to better yourself by improving how you handle situations by removing the punishment portion and focus on the constructive portion. 

What you may start noticing once you are more familiar with introspection is that not everyone is at the same point as you. They may not have started it yet, or they may be years ahead of you. This can cause setbacks in relationships. The thing is, you can’t force others to be introspective or communicate in the way you’re trying to, because they may have their own timeline for when they are even able to start asking themselves certain questions; facing certain perspectives different from their own; and communicating in a way where they can see beyond the negative to the heart of the message. They may never do this, because they’ve locked in on a way of coping that doesn’t even allow for this exchange to exist. A lot of times it is due to previous interactions; exhaustion with other parts of their life; or not wanting to view a perspective outside of their own as it already took them a long time to get to this point in their life. This is relatable to most people and often forgotten. Remember where you started at and try to implement that when it comes to others. So when someone is “stuck” in their ways from your perspective, it may just be that they spent years to get to where they are. It’s like thinking you hit the peak of the mountain to only find that the fog was covering up more of the mountain. They may feel like taking a break and chilling there for a bit, enjoying where they are right now and appreciating the work that they’ve done. They can also go back down the mountain depending on if they feel it isn’t working for them and may feel defeated because they’re being asked for more. Possibly they want to try a different path. Then there’s the option to continue to climb when they’ve regained energy and are ready to climb again. Will you be there when that times comes?

Something that I’ve learned recently is that we’ve all created our own world through our own perspective. We built it through our experiences, our opinions, and the people we have known. This view branches out to as far as we allow ourselves to reach. Some live in small bubbles while others view the world in a broad way where other perspectives are welcomed even if they’re not always accepted as their own. We set expectations for the people we want to stay in our world, where if they don’t meet those expectations they are casted out, ridiculed, or simply not as trusted as others. This goes back to limitations we set on ourselves and the people around us. It makes sense when it comes to survival to only keep those around who will benefit us and isn’t life about surviving? So why keep someone around who constantly stresses you out? That’s where introspection also comes into play, to see if it is the person who stresses you out, or is it something in yourself that you can work on to figure out what portion of that person is stressing you out. Is it actually them or do they bring up things within you that you have not dealt with yet or are not willing to work on yet? The people I’m talking about are those who time and time again are trying to grow in this world. Do we decide to look further within ourselves or do we move on from those people? I believe introspection helps with these situations, but it also may not be the right time as you are working on another thing within you.

As mentioned before it is exhausting and because it depletes a lot of energy you may not have time due to busy schedules, hardships in life, helping others, or energy you’d rather not use feeling a way that is not positive.  Just like positive thoughts, “negative” thoughts are useful too.  It’s learning how to navigate through them that’s tough. So are you able to take an hour to do this for yourself?  Are you able to allow yourself to sit with thoughts you’ve pushed aside; covered up with a positivity rug; or escaped from using distractions? Are you able to be patient with yourself, because afterwards you won’t be in the most productive mindset or positive mindset probably.  Will you be able to communicate this to yourself and others that you will be exhausted and that you will need time to re-energize and re-emerge because this is important to you. Will you be able to do this more consistently than once every few months?  It’s important to retain and build upon what you’ve learned by finding resources, strategies, or even having discussions with other people about what you’ve learned about yourself.

Learning more about yourself is extremely important and not limiting yourself is too. Expectations we put upon ourselves can stop us from growing. “Know your limitations” is a common phrase but with that it may excuse you from continuing to try. Yes, it’s a solution but is it the optimum one for all scenarios and people involved?   If you’re not able to fully understand yourself because you limit yourself then how are you ever going to be able to understand others or for them to understand you? 

All of what we talked about in this blog may be new to you.  This may be the beginning stage for you and that’s a scary concept for a lot of people. Being an expert allows us a sense of control, strength, and knowledge that we have taken a long time to earn.  There’s a negative stigma that goes along with being new at something. We don’t want to see ourselves stumbling or others to see this; and we don’t want to come across as insecure because it’s frowned upon. We need to release that stigma and understand, just like we learned as children, that it’s okay to be new at something. Learn how to be patient with yourself and others, and be persistent and consistent because eventually like anything else that you put the time, energy, and commitment into you will become stronger, more confident, and it will be like muscle memory. But you’ll never see that if you give up before you even begin. It will take a lot of practice, energy, and set backs, but even if you fall while doing it, that doesn’t mean you can’t get back up.  Treat yourself as you would a child. Don’t look at that in a demeaning way please, but in a way that you wouldn’t (hopefully) yell at a kid if they failed at something they just began. Instead you would show encouragement, support, and a helping hand to get them back to that motivated and positive mindset they need to continue to improve. 

I hope you got some pointers and if there are things I missed feel free to share. I’m always open to learning new strategies on bettering my own methods and myself. 

Until the next Scenario. 

Published by SandraScenarioS

Attempting to do a project for myself to not only make people smile but to improve my skills and learn new ones.

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