Self Reflection, Why Is It So Hard?

This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the UCSRN Conference – Utopia: Sustainable and Peaceful Living with some fellow UCR students.  UCSRN stands for University College Student Representatives in the Netherlands – it’s the collaborative forum between the university colleges in the Netherlands.  This year, the conference was hosted by Erasmus University College in Rotterdam.  The EUC Campus building is absolutely gorgeous, and was a great place to host this conference.  I’m not going to tell you about the whole conference, but I wanted to share my thoughts that came from one of the workshops I attended.

I attended the workshop called Changing your Mindset: from ideas to action.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the workshop, but I was hoping it would be more than just action planning, as I have had lots of experience with those types of workshops.  Much to my delight, this workshop was so much more than that.  It was more about reflecting upon what inhibits a smooth process of turning an idea into an action.  In the first part of the workshop, we got into groups and brainstormed things that become barriers when trying to turn an idea into an action – we talked about things such as lack of support, fear of failure, and thinking an idea doesn’t matter.

After that discussion, we were asked to take a few minutes and write down three things; an achievement, a failure, and an idea, and write strengths and weaknesses for each section.  Self reflection is one of the most difficult things for me, and when the instructions were told to the group, there was a general consensus that most people also dreaded self reflection.  After about ten very anxious minutes, we were told to pair up with someone we had never met, and share what we wrote down, letting our partners just talk without interrupting, or responding, until after we both had shared.

The experience was really interesting.  Sharing your thoughts and experiences with someone you don’t know at all is refreshing.  There is a far smaller fear of judgement from the person you are sharing with because you have absolutely no preconceived notions of each other.  After we both shared, we found that we shared struggles, and interests.  When the exercise was over, there was a calm feeling between us that can only come with the mutual trust of opening up to a complete stranger.  I was in the workshop with one of my very close friends, and after the exercise, I knew that if we had been partners, I’m not sure if I would have been able to share as much as I did with my partner.  

Later in the evening I was thinking about why this activity was so difficult.  I was talking to my friend Nicole about this when I came back to Middelburg last night, and I came to the conclusion that I find self reflection so difficult because I have a hard time admitting things to myself.  I always downplay my achievements, and I never want to accept when I am struggling with something.  I came to realize that I frequently see my achievements as not that big of a deal because I compare myself to others, or I had to do it, so it’s not as important.  Nicole and I also talked about the way feeling proud of yourself feels like bragging, and bragging is never seen as a good thing, thus downplaying achievements seems better than being proud of something you did.  As for failure, like I said in my #GLSuccess post, failure is scary, and further, admitting to failure is even more terrifying.  Failure has such a loaded connotation that I never consider it as an option.  I think that the fear of failure comes from the expectations that you think others have of you.  If you were truly only worried about what you thought of yourself, and were okay with disregarding what others thinks of your life, then failure wouldn’t be such a big deal – it would be more like a bump in the road, rather than the feeling of falling into a ditch.

Now, while I have come to realize these things, I still have no idea about how to think about the ideas of achievements, and failure in a different way.  I guess that will come in time, just how this understanding has taken time.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so feel free to leave a comment below.


Song of the Week: Calm After The Storm by The Common Linnets
Another super rad Dutch band for your listening pleasure 🙂

One thought on “Self Reflection, Why Is It So Hard?

  1. Pingback: Why Are YU Here? – Destination Graduation

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