Reflect, reframe and revive

Aidan Kearney is in reflective mood as the end of the year approaches… here he invites us to look back on 2017 and consider our experience of the past 12 months

As I wandered through Manchester City Centre on Saturday evening, my attention was drawn towards twinkling lights, and the rush of shoppers and party goers wrapped up against the chill of a December evening. It’s unmistakably Christmas season and while that means many things to many people, one thing it prompted me to reflect on, was the approaching year end.

In a 12-month period so much can happen: new arrivals, a change of job, a house move; and often loss as well. The end of the year and the start of a new one can often be the focal point for reflecting on experiences.

But how many of us use these reflective moments proactively?

Research supports that using reflection and reflective practice effectively can help to increase self-awareness and levels of emotional intelligence. In both a work and personal context both elements have been demonstrated to be closely aligned with better interpersonal interactions, team behaviour and collaboration.

In my role as a psychologist and coach, I encourage people to use actively use reflection to understand experience with perspective. In reviewing our experiences, we can make use of quiet time to reflect on our experience, without the normal distractions of our busy lives and our inner psychological chatter (that little voice of self-doubt or rumination on a difficult or challenging conversation). When we reflect, we’re able to reframe the experience, but also the learning that we’ve taken from it.

We are learning machines and our brains are constantly making sense, or sometimes not so much sense, of the world around us. Playing an active role in reframing our experiences allows us to effectively prepare ourselves for the next time we encounter a similar scenario; to prepare for and challenge nagging self-doubt, worry, frustration and other emotions which aren’t always helpful.

So, as we approach the end of the year, take time to look back and reflect. But do it in an active way and examine experience; deconstruct what you’ve thought and if necessary reframe the output to create a more helpful memory-set and mind-set.

Which brings me back to that busy street scene in the Manchester winter.

You may ask, in the hub-bub of the world, where can you find the time to create that peaceful space for such active reflection? My advice would be use the upcoming holiday period to create that space for yourself.

If you actively set some time aside away from the constant arousal of your digital arm (your mobile phone) it will allow you and your brain a break from constant alertness; a constant readiness that taxes your cognitive and body systems in a way that we’re not able to sustain in the long term.

So, when you’re approaching year end, take the time to put the phone away for a few minutes and start to build the skill of active reflection. Remember and embed all the positive experiences and work to re-frame the challenges in a way that creates positive and helpful thought processes.

If you would like to talk more about coaching and reflective practice, drop me a line, and have a Happy Christmas. @aidankearney10