One of the challenges in cultivating emotional intelligence is developing the skill of self-reflection. Self-reflection is defined as “the exercising of introspection, and a willingness to learn about yourself” in order to achieve self-awareness. This is the first competency of emotional intelligence. It is from our self-reflection that we become self-aware.
What does self-reflection look like? How do you learn self-reflection? John Keyser, founder and principal of Common Sense Leadership, describes it as “the act of setting aside time, ideally every day, to quietly and honestly look at yourself, first as a person and then as a leader.”
Self-reflection requires deep introspection of how you see yourself. This encompasses what you value, fear, love, and resist. What you are grateful for and passionate about. And how you extend loving kindness to yourself, are connected to humanity, and compassionate toward others.
Here are three techniques that I use to nurture my self-reflection.
- I write down whatever thoughts and feelings are present with me in the morning. I place no judgment on what I write. I review my writings, at least once a month, with my spiritual director. This helps me gain insight as to my struggles, hopes, and meanings.
- Walks and talks. I walk a lot. At times, I just talk out loud to hear my voice and speak to whatever is on my mind. The practice serves as a way to untangle the knots in my life and it opens up space for creative ideas. This is my time to be with myself and to listen deeply to my heart.
- Each morning after meditative breathing, I state what I was grateful for from the previous day. As I lay down in bed at night, I state that I’m grateful for this day to be alive regardless of what happened.
All this serves to nurture self-compassion and to be humbly grounded. This helps me to hold my ego in place, be nonjudgmental with others, deeply listen, and not take myself so seriously.
Leaders must know themselves to deepen their self-awareness. Daniel Goleman, in his book Primal Leadership – Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, says, “The most telling sign of self-awareness is a propensity for self-reflection and thoughtfulness. Self-aware people typically find time to reflect quietly, often off by themselves, which allows them to think things over rather than react impulsively.” Are you giving yourself permission and time for self-reflection?
Cultivating Emotional Intelligence is one of my training specialties. Contact me today to find out more about cultivating your Emotional Intelligence.
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