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5 Tips to be More Introspective (and How it Can Benefit You!)

by Ali

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How well do you know yourself? Do you like the person you are and how you present yourself to the world? What would you need to change to fall deeply in love with yourself? Being more introspective allows you to find the answers to these important questions. 

Sometimes we go along with a crowd without stopping to think for ourselves. This behavior can leave us feeling confused and irritated. When we engage with introspection, we gain insight and understanding into ourselves. This awareness helps us recognize what we want from life and encourages us to live authentically. 

This article clarifies introspection and suggests 5 ways to be more introspective.

What is introspection?

Introspection is a process that involves looking inward to examine your own thoughts and emotions.

When we embrace introspection, we become an observer of our minds. We adopt a heightened awareness of our thoughts and feelings. We have space to analyze our psyche. 

We often think of introspection as a quiet time of reflection. It is an exploration of our inside world instead of our external world. 

Ultimately introspection leads to greater self-awareness. And this self-awareness is what helps us understand ourselves better and enables us to live authentically. 

How can introspection benefit us? 

My ability to engage with introspection allows me to make little tweaks to my life. It helps me cultivate a life of purpose and happiness.

It also gives me the strength to walk away from something that isn’t serving me. 

Very simply, introspection can help with our personal growth. It encourages us to ask ourselves some big questions: 

  • Am I happy? 
  • What do I want in life? 
  • Who am I? 
  • What excites me? 
  • Who do I want to spend time with? 
  • How do I want to be remembered? 

This study expresses that those who have a deeper personal insight also have: 

  • Stronger relationships. 
  • A clear sense of purpose. 
  • High personal wellbeing. 
  • Greater self-esteem (here’s our article on that if you’re struggling with it!).
  • Higher happiness levels. 

By learning skills of introspection, we allow ourselves to recognize our strengths and weaknesses.

Introspection also enables us to learn from our mistakes. This is imperative for our success in the workplace and in our personal lives.

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5 ways to be more introspective 

For many years I was too busy to engage with introspection. I lived life on the edge, always on the go. If I had stopped, listened to my heart, and taken stock of things, I may have saved some heartache. Better late than never, though. 

Most of us can benefit from being a bit more introspective. Just be aware of any negative or self-deprecating thoughts creeping in. Introspective thinking doesn’t always play kindly with people who suffer from depression or anxiety. 

Here are 5 simple ways you can learn to be more introspective in the right way. 

1. Embrace reflection   

Reflection is a vital part of introspection.

Giving yourself time to reflect upon your thoughts or actions allows you to understand why you behave in certain ways. 

This reflection also helps you unpick your feelings and emotions. 

There are several tools to aid reflection: 

In the past, I was too busy to reflect. I would answer conundrums and quandaries immediately.

However, now, when faced with a tricky situation, I try and give myself time to reflect. I like to allow my mind and body the time to consider things. 

When we take time to reflect, we are more likely to respond to situations instead of reacting to them. 

2. Recognize where you stop, and others start 

Take the time to see yourself. 

When we recognize where we stop, and others begin, we can slowly untangle ourselves.

All too often, we adopt the views of others. For instance, we may go along with someone else’s opinion without thinking for ourselves. We may laugh at jokes we don’t find funny just because everyone else is laughing. 

This is called groupthink, and it stops us from being authentic. Going along with the crowd may be an act of pleasing people, or we might not realize we are allowed independent thought from people we believe are our superior. 

No matter who you are with, remember you are your own entity. No one should tell you what to think or how to behave. 

Take control of your thoughts, beliefs, actions, and behaviors. Remember, you can not control other people, but you can control yourself. 

3. Be your own best friend 

I used to work with a guy who could not be by himself. He would phone someone when leaving work and even while walking a short distance to his car. Imagine being that terrified of your own company! 

Perhaps the most valuable lesson I have learned in the last few years is how to be my own best friend. I enjoy my own company. 

What do you look for in a best friend? A best friend is someone who supports you. They want the best for you and are there to encourage, help, and listen to you. They permit you to show up as yourself. 

I have learned to give myself what I need in terms of friendship. I no longer need others to validate me. This self-befriending has helped build innate confidence, ironically attracting some great friends into my life. 

When you explore the path of introspection, you improve your relationship with yourself.

Just remember, there is a balance. It can be detrimental to become too self-reliant. Even the most introverted of us benefit from social contact.

4. Break the rules  

Throughout our lives, we create rules for our behavior. These rules hold us captive in a psyche that does not always serve us. It’s time for us to break the rules. 

We prescribe these rules to ourselves subconsciously. The rules I devised for myself shackled me to an unhealthy and unhappy version of myself. 

Some of my old rules include:  

  • I must ensure everyone is happy. 
  • I must sacrifice my wants for other people. 
  • I must put other people before myself. 
  • I must recognize that other people are better than me. 
  • I must stay small. 
  • I must ensure other people like me. 

Aren’t these rules ridiculous? 

Without periods of introspection, I wouldn’t have had the insight to recognize these rules and learn to question them. 

Can you imagine how crippling it was to live by the rule of trying to ensure everyone liked me? I now recognize that some people will love me, and some people will want to avoid me. And that is OK!

What are some of your rules? 

Take some time to reflect upon the rules you have unintentionally set for yourself. How are they serving you? Or rather, how are they holding you back in life? It’s time to question them. 

5. Ask “what”, not “why” 

Now, this is fascinating. 

Not everyone who can be introspective is happier than those who aren’t introspective. Ordinarily, introspection is linked with an improvement in personal growth and can impact all areas of our lives. But there are some situations where introspection can lead to unhappiness. 

This article outlines the importance of how we compose our internal questions. 

When we use the term “why” to lead an introspective chain of thoughts, we are more inclined to attribute blame and box ourselves in with restricted ideas. 

When we lead with the term “what,” we open ourselves to exploration and growth, it also helps us to consider things more objectively. 

Check out the difference. 

  • “Why do I feel anxious?” versus “What happened to make me anxious?”
  • “Why don’t I like Tom?” versus “What is the reason I don’t feel warmth for Tom?”
  • “Why did I fail that exam?” versus “What behaviors contributed to failing that exam?” 

So next time you feel uneasy within yourself, don’t ask why. Instead, explore what the cause may be.

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Wrapping up 

Introspection is an art form. It isn’t something that comes easily to everyone, but we can all learn to practice it. Not only will this lead to the mastering of self-knowledge, but it will help us live a happier and more authentic life. 

Do you consider yourself to be introspective? What are your favorite techniques to help with introspection? Please share them with us in the comments below!

Ali Hall AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Kindness is my superpower. Dogs and nature are my oxygen. Psychology with Sports science graduate. Scottish born and bred. I’ve worked and traveled all over the world. Find me running long distances on the hills and trails.

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