Wouldn’t it be nice if being a reflective person were easy? A quick look in the mirror of your mind to reveal every thing in order, or easily covered or corrected. Can’t fix it on your own-no worries…we can always use a filter for the pictures! Unfortunately, when taking a really close look at anything in real life-there are no quick fixes or snapchat filters. The full picture isn’t always clear at first, and when it is I don’t always know what to do with what I see, but without fail, when the picture fully develops I always feel a sense of simultaneous relief and amazement that I didn’t or couldn’t see it clearly before.
There are times that I feel like reflection is following me. The kind of “following” that would entice a police report if it were human, or at least initiate the purchase of a new can of mace. It isn’t pleasant. It is nagging, and uncomfortable, and sometimes scary. This kind of thought stalking reflection borders on perseveration, and I have to be intentional to set aside time, investigate, arrest and interrogate the thoughts fully and then close the case. Reflection is powerful-but when it gives way to worry or anxiety, everyone loses. When I can pin down the thought stalker, these reflections are often game changers for me. They require me to re-evaluate, redefine, and revise my practice or my perspective.
Other times reflection is fast and fun: That worked, this didn’t, never again, do this better, don’t forget this activity. This kind of reflective practice is more like adjusting a recipe: needs more salt, maybe try a different kind of cheese, add this to the rotation, next time-less kale, let’s be honest-always less kale. These reflections are adjustments, tweaks & keeps-they don’t shift paradigm, but they are necessary for forward momentum and intentional growth.
But whether reflection approaches as a “thought stalker”, a “quick fix”, or a some kind of mutation of the two-there is always a catalyst. I was going to say that I don’t usually trip into reflection-but that is EXACTLY what happens.
So many times I stumble across an article, a quote, or a new idea in a resource. Often a colleague or friend will say something without realizing how brilliant they are, or how they have completely stopped me in my tracks. The other day I was sitting in a professional learning session and the facilitator lead a protocol in a way that made me totally rethink a grouping strategy.
I love it when reflections are more like skipping. Those times when the day is amazing. A day so good you have to say it slow. A-MAZ-ING. A lesson that you wish you could rewind and record for posterity. A high-five after the breakthrough you have been working on with the kid-that makes you know that more high fives are possible.
And sometimes, I actually trip. Something comes up that I don’t expect, or I didn’t see coming, or I can’t predict. There are times I react or respond in a way I hadn’t planned or doesn’t set well or could have gone better. Reflections that start here are hard. I hope you can hear me say that slowly as well. HAAARRRDDDD. I am not sure how you process set- backs, but I spent the first half of my life trying/failing/pretending to be perfect, so this gets messy for me at times.
However I get there, and however I do it-for me all reflective roads lead to one place: GROWTH.
- Sometimes that starts by admitting I don’t know the answer and digging in to new learning.
- A lot of times I have to try it again.
- Revise, Revise, Revise-get the feedback from people you trust.
- Sometimes I need to apologize.
- Step back and look at it from someone else’s point of view.
- Ask questions.
- Often I need some coaching.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
What is true every time, is that it is different every time, and I have to be open to the reflective process. I am committed to being reflective-in my practice, in my parenting, in my relationships, in my life. What I know…is that I don’t have all the answers and I am not going to get it all right-but I am still learning…
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