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Sista Sound Off | True Reflection: Part One

India of My Natural Sistas
India of My Natural Sistas

Ahh, reflection . . . the sometimes much needed, sometimes dreaded “talk” with self. Self-reflection is one of the key ingredients to growth. Are you doing it enough? Are you doing it correctly? Are you truthfully being truthful with yourself? Is action being taken after your self-reflection yields a less than pleasant revelation? This article is going to be very high-level, but it should get you on the right track. Although high-level, reflection is not easy (contrary to popular belief), therefore to be thorough, this article will have more than one part. Let us learn to listen to ourselves, shall we?!

What is Reflection?
Ok, so what are your conceptions of reflection? Do you imagine a yoga mat, incense, or a chant that you must consistently hum for a specified amount of time? Maybe the aforementioned things may help you reflect, or are facets of reflection, however those things are not reflection itself. Joseph Raelin, scholar and author, describes reflective practice as “the practice of periodically stepping back to ponder the meaning of what has recently transpired to ourselves and to others in our immediate environment.” Raelin explicitly calls for reflection to go beyond ourselves, and encompass those around us. This thought process most certainly negates our “Imma do me” attitude, and self-preservation. In short, reflection is a conscious mental exercise that is deeper than remembering events. It should search for meaning, and include others. I would like to further Raelin’s point and argue that reflection can be a preventative practice. Instead of only thinking of what HAS transpired, before making a decision think about what CAN transpire.

Why Is It Important?
Living in a society that is always calling one to action, it is difficult to buy-in to the idea of not acting, and listening instead. That’s right, reflection also includes the act of listening. Why must we make decisions so hurriedly? Or, if after making a rushed decision, why do we not review the situation in its entirety before making another decision? I know you’re thinking, “Girl, ain’t nobody got time for that!” Well, I assure you if you practiced the art of reflection, it would most likely yield more time than you have had before. Essentially, I am saying you have to give time, through reflection, to get more time back via having peace of mind.

Reflection is important because most of us function in an unaware state. I know you think you know what is going on, but do you really? Next, we deceive ourselves a lot, reflective practice helps bring you face to face with the cold, hard truth. Lastly, partiality reigns supreme with human beings. We selectively hear, see, and say things, unfortunately. With reflective practice, we can begin to intimately know our personal selectivity patterns and learn to combat such behavior in the future. And those things are just a small smidgen of the components of reflection . . . I warned you, it is not easy!

Up Next
As stated earlier, reflective practice is difficult and takes time. In the upcoming articles, we will specifically breakdown the ingredients of reflective practice and their importance, suggestions on how to reflect, and a call to action. This will get deep, real quick, so come prepared to learn with an open heart and mind. Next time, bring a pen and something to write with. Get ready to get to know the real you, your thought process, and the effects of others on you. Hope to see you around!

Raelin, J. (2002). “I don’t have time to think!” versus the art of reflective practice. Reflections, 4(1), 66-79.


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Written by Janai Bonham

Janai Bonham is a military spouse, mother, and currently an Organizational Leadership PhD candidate. She was born and raised in New Orleans, LA.

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