Make self-reflection a habitual priority, just like brushing your teeth.
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall. How can I be the most successful of them all?” – Homo Sapiens
What do you see when you look in the mirror in the morning? Your messy hair? The bags under your eyes? Or maybe the lines on your face from sleeping face down on your stomach?
For most of us, we take inventory of our external factors and make moves to change our physical appearance. But how many of us look into the mirror and decide to change who we are, not just what we look like?
Self-reflection and mindfulness have gained much popularity over the past few decades. Still, it is unclear whether or not we fully understand the underlying principles and neuroscience behind these practices, making it difficult to know how and why these techniques work.
More importantly, it allows much room for interpretation, which may lead people to believe false claims about expected outcomes and beliefs from all of the self-proclaimed “gurus” out there taking over these new fields of study.
This lack of understanding is an essential factor to consider. There is no shortage of screaming humans on the internet today telling you how smart they are and how dumb everyone else is, which is always entertaining and a little bit concerning (to say the least).
To truly understand how self-reflection can lead to self-improvement, we need to dive into the underlying neuroscience behind changing the brain to change your future outcomes.
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life
On average, the human brain weighs around 3 lbs and is estimated to contain approximately 100 billion neurons. The brain consists of 2% of the body’s total mass, yet it uses up about 20% of your body’s energy reserves. Your brain is the powerhouse of the mind, body, and soul.
If we participated in a conversation about self-reflection and awareness back in the ’70s and ’80s, we would most likely be contemplating specific regions of the brain and how they would “control” various aspects of function. A lot has changed since then.
We now understand that the brain is no longer a “real estate map” of function, as multiple areas of the brain communicate in synergy to create consciousness, thoughts, emotions, and feelings. While we may not be looking for a single region of the brain for function, we know that specific areas of the brain communicate in tandem to create our perceptions of the world.
The Neural Network of Cognition
Of those regions, the most important ones for self-reflection are the frontal lobe (the CEO of the brain, memory, learning, cognition), the anterior cingulate (decision making, impulse control, social awareness), and the insular cortex (self-reflection/awareness, motivated behavior, sense of self). Although each of these regions may play a specific “role” in function, they must all work together in sync to help us create our perception of ourselves and change the way we view the world.
As we dig deeper into these regions of the brain, it becomes apparent that self-reflection is a combination of many steps and processes, which is why self-awareness can significantly impact so many aspects of our lives. From the sense of fulfillment to feeling more empathetic, the use of these self-reflection techniques can carry over into our personal and professional lives, providing a vast array of positive changes that can completely change the trajectory of our careers and lives moving forward.
These practices aren’t just for those who want to become better listeners or employes in a business. Mindfulness-based approaches and interventions have also provided significant benefits for reducing anxiety and depression, with studies indicating that these practices are just as effective as highly valued cognitive-based therapies.
For these reasons alone, self-reflection has the power to change your life because it is re-wiring your brain to perceive your world differently, making you more aware of yourself and others’ actions. This change can provide a significant advantage because most of what happens to us isn’t always perceived on a conscious level, making it a factor that we are unaware of and something we cannot change.
Utilizing self-reflection can prime the brain to be more aware of your surroundings, allowing us to accurately interpret conversations, interactions, and discussions that carry a deeper meaning than the words commonly used to communicate surface-level ideas. They can also help you develop higher-level thinking skills and ideas to help move your business agenda forward.
Optimizing Your Brain Will Advance Your Career
According to modern neuroscience and quantum physics, our subjective perceptions of reality are merely projections from our brain and associated neurological networks, which end up hiding most of the truth about our objective reality to give us the fittest chances for survival. Sounds wild, right?
If we want to change the way we look at the world, we must change the lens through which we see the world. We must steer our conscious mind’s control to alter our subconscious wiring and hidden perceptions of the world around us. When we utilize these habits and daily rituals to change our brain, we increase our capacity to find success and build better relationships. We also become more empathetic and able to become better leaders for our people.
With the consistent use of self-reflection and mindfulness-based interventions, it’s entirely possible to change the trajectory of your career. You just have to create the habit and let the universe take care of the rest.