The Power of Reflecting


Reflecting is something I have done for so long, I can’t remember a time I didn’t do it. It began as journaling and it was more about keeping track of my social calendar and the exciting experiences I was having in high school than the deep processing of my thoughts and feelings. More likely than not, I relished the joyful moments of a cute boy smiling at me in the hallway or the party I had gotten invited to with the popular kids.

Over the years, however, my daily journaling habit, has most definitely become about recalling my day and reflecting on moments of success as well as things that make me happy, simple pleasures, moments of gratitude, difficulties and challenges I am working through, and things to look forward to.

Without this special time I carve out each and every day to reflect on what’s happening for me, the more I think I’d feel that life was passing me by and going much too fast. Reflecting is my way of “slowing down” time and trying to make more meaning in my life.

When working with young girls, I try to teach them about the power of reflecting and how important it is to take the time to slow down, limit their distractions, and simply spend time with themselves, in quiet contemplation. I encourage girls to ask themselves essential questions about who they are and who they want to be. I know how “silly” and “ridiculous” this sounds to them. After all, they are living in a super fast-paced, multi-media, multi tasking society that NEVER wants to SLOW DOWN and they really don’t see the value in reflecting (yet!). I know.

However, research has a lot of good things to say about reflecting. Barbara L. Frederickson, Ph.D., in her book Love 2.0 – a book about how emotions affect everything we feel, think, do, and become – says that by reflecting at the end of each day on three of the longest social interactions you’ve had that day, and asking questions about how “connected” and “in tune” you felt, you can increase your awareness and this can serve as a reminder of your capacity for love. She writes: “Across several longitudinal studies in which we’d asked people to provide daily reports of their emotions, we’d never seen improvements simply due to the act of regularly reflecting on feelings. But in this study we did” (p. 97).

Reflecting seems to hold “power” because, as we reflect, we are cultivating a sense of presence and being in the moment. We are also more likely to become more sensitive and aware of our experiences. By reflecting, or noticing, we may feel we are paying more attention and, therefore, living more mindfully and purposefully than if we coast through life on automatic pilot and mindlessly!

I hope that girls today can start practicing this habit, starting simply with a journal tracking their daily activities. But, over time, hopefully getting deeper, and expressing their feelings, thoughts, hopes, dreams, and aspirations. This is my hope for girls, and the power of reflecting.