What it Means to Engage in Self-Reflective Practice
Any practice needs to be nurtured
At first glance, self-reflective practice seems totally self explanatory, but is it? It is easy to assume that we all know what this means and we all know how to do it, but you know what they say about making assumptions!
I have realized that this practice is not something that seems to just come naturally for us. It can be easy to forget our own learning process once we have achieved some level of understanding. Once you know, it’s hard to remember when you didn’t!
Deep responsibility leads to expanded Freedom
To engage in a deep level of self-reflection can be a daunting process; it takes effort, commitment, and courage. The idea that “ignorance is bliss” comes to mind. So, naturally, it may seem easier to avoid this depth of introspection, mainly because it is a huge responsibility.
Responsibility has been given a bad rap; we tend to see it as a burden when in fact, it really only refers to our ability to respond. With this ability, comes expansive freedom.
We are free when we know that we have the ability to respond effectively to anything that life might throw our way. We are free when we know that we have choices and that we can affect, at least, the direction of our lives. We are free when we can shift our perspective and our interpretation of any situation.
Science and Artistry
Donald Schon was a pioneer in the area of reflective learning in adult education. In his books, Schon highlights the important relationship between the science of the profession and the artistry of practice.
I’m going to get a bit technical here…just for a moment. Consider that reflective learning emphasizes knowledge and skill development situated in theoretical frameworks; more specifically, the ability to apply theories and philosophies embedded in the helping professions within our therapeutic relationships.
Self-reflective practice allows us to consider the artistry involved in our work with others. Intuition, spontaneity, and the ability to embrace the mysterious in ways that allow for deeper exploration of our personal processes are all emphasized as critical to the art of reflection as described by Schon.
The ability to reflect with regard to the guiding principles of your respective profession is extremely important, however, it is equally important to reflect on the more personal processes and aspects of your being. This is the difference between reflective practice and self-reflective practice.
“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are” Anais Nin
The Personal Lens
We each view the world through our own personal lens. This lens is made up of beliefs, values, biases, assumptions, attitudes, judgements, past experiences, cultural conditioning, and expectations, to name a few elements. It helps us navigate the world and make sense of our experiences.
But, the personal lens is not meant to be static. It requires alterations, refinement, and inspection. Sometimes our lens needs adjustment, repair and a bit of polish!
Self-reflective practice is maintenance for your personal lens. You may be holding beliefs or attitudes that are less than functional or healthy. You are so powerful that you can change these beliefs and attitudes and replace them with more effective ones, but first you need to be aware that they exist.
It’s All About Strategy and Commitment
Self-reflective practice involves a variety of strategies that help us reach that place of self-connection. Journalling, meditation, peer communication, creative expression are just a few strategies that can enhance any practice. In fact, in my new online course The Self-Connection Series (link) you can spend 8 weeks trying on different strategies to create your own personal self-reflective practice!
Let’s get started!
Here’s a taste of what you can expect in The Self-Connection Series. You may want to grab a journal for this one!
- Identify one or two values, attitudes, belief systems, assumptions, or personal experiences that impact upon your practice as a helping professional.
- Identify the areas you are aware of that could use adjustment, refinement, revision, or enhancement in order for you to experience a deeper level of alignment between what you believe, what you think and what you do?
Sign up to our members’ area for immediate access to free resources!