Learning How To Reflect Will Save Your Life, Part 2: What Are You Scared Of?


Last week we began to discuss how self-reflection is important for your survival. It is a process of self-exploration that demonstrates how you learn new things and integrate them into your life. 

Learning new things and integrating them into daily life is what humans have done...um...forever. It is a natural process. 

That is why we think school is a required rite of passage into human-hood. Because we have to learn stuff.

Studies have shown that happiness is correlated to one's sense of making progress in any way, big or small, which means that the urge to grow is imprinted in our DNA as a means of achieving fulfillment.

Learning = Growth = Evolution = Survival

Sounds simplistic, yeah? But here is the thing:

People are absolutely terrified of reflection.

It is mind-boggling. 

The Evolution Problem

When you are a teeny tiny baby, you are learning stuff for survival just as often as you are as an adult, but the mental framework is different. Not only are your mental skills more evolved, you have a couple things called independence and responsibility. Other than the fact that you do not have a whole lot of consciousness when you are a tiny child, you are not yet fully responsible for your survival. As a result, you do not recognize or see the value in the many things you are constantly learning. 

As you get older and learn that you are, in fact, a person and that you are different than other persons around you, you learn that there are some things you might have to do keep yourself alive. 

The problem is that you do not face that realization with "Boom, I got this. I have been learning how to survive my whole life already" because you were not aware of what you were learning when you still relied on a caregiver for survival. 

When faced with the existential "holy crap, I am human" moment, people freeze.

They feel like they do not know what to do. They get stressed. They get down on themselves. They get sad. 

Even people who recognize the benefit of self-reflection and who begin to self-reflect often hit a point where they get scared and stop. 

The Survival Problem

Why the heck do they stop? Because they are insecure. They acknowledge the consequences of not reflecting but they believe that they do not know HOW to effectively reflect. 

They think there is a right or wrong way to do it. 

What is worse, they think that the vulnerability of self-reflection is a sign of weakness. Society promotes this. And this is true for people who see the benefit of reflection. What about those who never even allow themselves to start reflecting because it is a waste of time? Darwin sits up in his grave...

The Solution

Before I teach you any more about HOW to reflect in a safe and effective way, the most important thing is to first identify what is getting in the way of your vulnerability. 

For those of you who have never wanted to fully attend to self-reflection:

  • what are you afraid of?

  • what is scary about that vulnerability for you?

  • what do you believe this level of vulnerability means about you?  

For those of you who have given attention to self-reflection but then stopped when it got too deep or too vulnerable:

  • what did you become afraid of?

  • what was scary about that threshold for you?

  • what were you learning about yourself that you became afraid to continue exploring?

  • did you feel alone and unguided?

For both categories: from whom were you taught that vulnerability is not a good thing?

Everybody reflects to different extents and everyone stops for different reasons. For this reason, I cannot and will not ever judge someone for becoming scared in the course of their own unique evolutionary journey. 

You must understand your fear of vulnerability before you can learn your unique power and increase your chances of survival.