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Why Is Self-Reflection Not Good For Us?

Do you think self-reflection is good? Let’s find out why self-reflection isn’t always good for us.

When I was a child, I was very imaginative and self-centered. Most of the time, I didn’t even know what was going on around me. I was a maladaptive daydreamer lost in a dream world.

To me, doing things efficiently was the most difficult job in the world. Besides, my different views and perspectives never allowed me to fit in with the children of my age, which lead to me being alone and distant.

I utilized my childhood in self-reflecting on my experiences and seeking new connections within them. As every child desires, I also wanted to be different from the rest. However, to my surprise, I didn’t necessarily have to do anything to stand out.

I learned many things with the help of self-reflection. But instead of making me sure of myself, I ended up becoming more gloomy, stressed out, and depressed. 

Initially, I thought it was just a by-product of my growing age. 

But slowly, I realized that thinking too much made me withdrawn and detached from everyone else, even my family members.

It is here that I decided to be more mindful of the things going on around me. Self-reflection taught me many things about my personal life, but there are some limitations to it. It isn’t always healthy for our identity.

So, here we will discuss why isn’t self-reflection good for us.


How self-reflection affects our identity?

You might have heard it many times that self-reflection is the key to everything.

Self-reflection helps us to be confident with our identity and personality. It guides us to the ultimate realization of self, which is necessary for personal growth.

Well, there is nothing wrong with it. To a certain extent, it is true. However, there are some facts about self-reflection that prevent us from living a well-adept social life.

First, self-reflection is highly personal and does not depend on external stimuli. It is the result of an individual and his desire to be a part of society. Identity is created when the self feels threatened by the conventions of society and wants to understand its own place.

Second, self-reflection has almost no basis in the practical world as people find success even when they are not aware of themselves. Besides, the more self-absorbed you are, the more out of touch you are with the world.

For instance, a highly self-reflective man suffers from various psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress. It makes his life even worse when he ruminates rather then introspects on self-reflection.

But, not everyone is aware of the difference between rumination and self-reflection.

So, let’s find out the difference between rumination and introspection.


How introspection is different from rumination?

Most people do not know whether they are introspecting or ruminating. The process is the same, i.e., self-reflection. However, the result is different. The consequences are different.

Introspection is the seeking of values, beliefs, ideologies, principles, and personal knowledge to understand how we can develop the self to suit our interests. It focuses on knowing what lies beneath our shallow perspective.

Rumination, on the other hand, is seldom focused on developing oneself. Instead, it tries to analyze the aspects where we fail to perform or do not succeed due to negligence. Besides, it also makes us even more withdrawn as we process the past and begin to identify with it in the long run.

A woman trying to self-reflect
Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash

However, introspection has one leg in the self, and the other in the society, which means it doesn’t neglect it but simply learns from it. It develops our personality and makes it flexible to be open to new experiences.

Rumination, though a part of self-reflection, is highly focused on self and identifies with the hollowness and emptiness of an individual, making him sad and moody at best and cynical and broody at worst. It is the dark side of self-reflection that everyone falls for.

Now, we know the difference between self-reflection and rumination, so let’s find out the ways to identify the bad about self-reflection and how to prevent it.


How can we identify unhealthy self-reflection and the ways to prevent it?

In the previous section, we discussed how self-reflection plays a key role in influencing our identity. We also discussed the difference between rumination and introspection.

By now, you must have got some idea about the drawbacks and limitations of self-reflection in our lives.

So, let us discuss how we can identify unhealthy self-reflection and what can we do to prevent it.


Unhealthy self-reflection

 1. Preoccupies you with multiple negative possibilities:

When we seek out new experiences, we try to shift our focus on things that affect us emotionally. Some affect us greater than the rest, and due to our human nature, we seek out multiple possibilities, thereby employing creativity in our perception.

However, when we seek the negative experiences of violence, abuse, and torcher, we try to imagine multiple possibilities regarding the way such atrocities could be handled. It leads to sadness, despair, and in severe cases, trauma.

How to fix it:

Try to identify the negative experiences that affect your emotional nature. Do not let emotions build a negative worldview in your mind. Seek the help of those around you who have successfully tackled such situations. Ask them to counsel you and your problems with self-reflection.


2. Makes you disregard the significance of your identity:

Ironically, self-reflection can also harm our individuality. The significance of our identity is closely related to the depth of self-reflection.

However, unhealthy self-reflection manipulates us to disregard and ignore the significance of our identity. It makes us believe that we are uniquely flawed and cannot live a normal life. Besides, it also negatively affects our morale to live with ourselves.

How to fix it:

Our self-reflection is highly driven by emotions. Unhealthy self-reflection amplifies the emotions of fear, regret, and despair to point out the deepest insecurities. 

Therefore, we must prevent these emotions from negatively impacting us. Try to look for something in you that has always made you proud. It can be anything inspiring, no matter how small. It helps tackle our feelings of inadequacy and emptiness.


3. Makes you identify with a distorted reality:

Our reality plays a huge role in influencing our personality. It is the source of knowledge for everything that exists within the constraints of the world. Likewise, it also affects our sense of self to a great deal.

However, unhealthy self-reflection takes it too far by presenting a distorted reality in front of us. Besides, it also tries to convince us that the distorted reality we perceive is the actual reality.

For instance, the polar view such as ‘society is cynical‘ or ‘humanity is forever good‘ to arise from this distorted version of reality, which is nothing but a perceptive deception.

How to fix it:

Try to focus on the truth than believing everything you see. Be more open-minded and explore multiple sides of a situation to prevent yourself from entering into a loop of polarity concerning your environment. Make sense of the situation with a balance point of view.


4. Never helps you grow as an individual:

This one is evident. It isn’t impossible to identify something that does not allow you to grow as a person. Most importantly, unhealthy self-reflection brings stagnation in self-development. You are so lost in your own world, which doesn’t help you become the best version of yourself.

It brings rumination and procrastination, which is detrimental to our productive nature. The individual is practically unable to deal with regular tasks and wallows in sorrow due to his inadequacy.

How to fix it:

It is something that can’t be addressed by anyone. We must understand what helps us grow as an individual and escape from this vicious loop of self-doubt. To do that, we must find inspiration from our loved ones or peers, even watching inspiring documentaries will work.

4 ways to identify unhealthy self-reflection

Final Words:

To sum up, self-reflection is a great tool that helps us come to terms with our true selves. However, we have discussed why self-reflection isn’t always good for us, and it also applies to people who falsely believe they are intrapersonally aware.

The understanding of self is broader than we know and new ways to self-reflect have emerged in recent years to make us more aware than before.

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