Taking time to reflect on specific events, moments or periods of time can be a beneficial practise for anyone, but arguably even more so after the whirlwind that has been 2020 so far.
Reflecting on things that have happened in the past offers our brain the opportunity to pause, evaluate and untangle observations, experiences or interpretations of events and create meaning. We can then apply this in our understanding of the world around us, and use it to learn and grow.
Reflection can be a highly effective tool in creating a productive mindset that can motivate future goals and direction. Sounds like something that could be pretty important as we near in on the end of one of the most turbulent years in many of our lives…!
Why you should take some time to reflect on 2020
You may have heard people joking about how 2020 has been a write off – but that feels like a very pessimistic way to view the past few months. There have been some incredible stories of human nature to come out of these tricky times, and you will have achieved far more than you may initially realise.
We may also need to reframe what we view as ‘productive’, ‘successful’ or ‘achievement’ as so many of the usual circumstances that create our lens for perceiving these concepts have had to change. Plans have been put on hold, restrictions have been in place, adaptations have needed to be made. And yet, here we are, still standing. If that is not something to reflect on with pride, then I don’t know what is.
Reflection isn’t always easy
Looking back at our experiences, behaviours and actions isn’t always an easy thing to do. Sometimes it can remind us of hardship, negative emotions or stressful moments but out of these confrontations with our past can come such insight into how we react to certain triggers, and offers us a chance to acknowledge our impact on the world around us. If we dislike how we acted in a certain situation, we have the power to decide to change so that the next time something similar happens, we handle it better.
Equally, you can reflect on the positive ways in which you participated in something – although many of us are not very good at acknowledging how we can be good at things! – we can value the actions we took that made a scenario better, and choose to remember this for future. We may also be able to pinpoint and appreciate a few more of the positive things that have happened over the last few months that we may have previously overlooked. Taking some time to recognise these, even write them down for future reference, can help us to view the world from a more positive perspective.
The benefits of reflection
At its core, reflection is essentially being mindful when remembering events that have taken place. It is about carefully considering the outcomes, and how your behaviours influenced how the situations unfolded. We often just react to the stimulus around us, without too much careful consideration or thought, but it is these reactions that then cause someone else to do the same, and so on. By reflecting on and questioning how you reacted to a specific trigger, you can recognise this in your behaviour in future, and have the opportunity to choose to react similarly or differently when faced with a similar scenario.
Reflecting on 2020
If we take a moment to reflect on this past year together, it is clear that we have faced a number of challenges that we didn’t expect at the end of 2019. Uncertainty, ill health, lost lives, global travel restrictions, school closures, changing working environments, empty supermarkets, implementation of rules in restaurants and introduction of face masks in public spaces. A lot has changed, and that is not to mention the usual stresses of day-to-day goings on that we still need to contend with. We have had a lot to handle this year, and if you have made it in one piece, that is something to pat yourself on the back for.
But beyond this, communities have carried on, as they always do – and there will have been moments throughout the year that you can utilise in your learning for the future. Whether positive or negative, you can choose to turn lemons into lemonade by directing this energy into your own self-development and plans for 2021.
Start your new year now
Even if you reflect on 2020 and cannot see any positive things to have come out of it, the good news is, 2020 isn’t over yet. You still have time to influence change in your life before the New Year comes. You don’t have to wait to start getting yourself goals for the coming year, you can start doing that right now. Use what you have learned from 2020 to inform your decisions for the next 12 months – and make 2021 the year of creating the best you, yet.