Imagine your spirit floating out of your body and looking down at yourself. All your emotions are left behind and only the rational thinking part of you is observing your life and scenes as they pass by.
This is not an easy thing to just sit and imagine. Our natural tendency is to navigate through life-solving current problems with the chatter of our fictitious thoughts and the pull of our emotions with little time for reflection.
Classic Christmas Movies That Demonstrate Self-Improvement
We frequently discover our made-up thoughts and illusions lead to disappointments. It would be much easier if we had the same experience of Ebenezer Scrooge with the spirits or George Bailey with a guardian angel. Their supernatural interventions forced them to observe their past actions and feel accountable for what choices they made next.
If we could have the ghost of Christmas past, present, and future force us to see ourselves for who we are, even the vilest and most ugly parts of ourselves, such as in the story of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, would we too be able to alter our fate? Would we all of a sudden decide to be completely accountable for the past, present, and future choices we make?
Similarly with the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” by Frank Capra, what would happen if we had an angel come to us and show us our life, demonstrating all the good we have done and how life would be without our contribution? Would we be encouraged and want to continue? Would we be inspired by even deeper longings to serve others?
We rarely take time to observe ourselves, study our actions, discover our patterns, and ask ourselves probing questions. We are so consumed by our demanding jobs and fast-paced lives that we fail to see the bigger picture.
Rather than taking the learning lessons from what didn’t work out we frequently just give up altogether. We overcorrect and over-analyze instead of just taking the key learnings as wisdom into our next chapter.
Objectivity and self-examination are powerful in producing positive changes in ourselves but can be difficult to execute independently.
We don’t learn the important lessons of observing and examining ourselves in formal education very often and it may be difficult to find training courses devoted to how to do this right.
Self-observation exercises can help you process a lot of information about yourself in a deep and meaningful way. This helps you to have a window view of yourself inside the world so you can see your role as opposed to just being a blended part of the world or even a solo person in the world.
If you feel stuck, trying self-objective observations will most likely help you to be honest with yourself and shine a light on what you need to do next.
The oldest book in the world, the Bible, even mentions the importance of self-examination in several verses.
1 Corinthians 11:28 – “But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”
1 Corinthians 11:31 – “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.”
Romans 12:3 – “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
Here are seven suggestions to stimulate self-observations and make things in your life more transparent by removing the veil.
Many of these exercises encourage some element of documenting changes that have either taken place or are currently underway. They can also help you envision the future.
All these methods will serve in getting you up close and personal with who you are so you can hold a part of your life in the palm of your hand and examine yourself much like Ebenezer Scrooge and George Bailey.
You may not be able to be perfectly objective but you will be able to gain enough self-knowledge to seek proper improvements.
#1. Journaling: We can write out our thoughts, past disappointments, life scenarios as they unfold. By writing about our lives we can observe ourselves in words using the basic tools of pen and paper. This is not something you would do just once but works best if it’s kept as a part of your day-to-day life routine. Journaling enables you to be proactive in processing thoughts and feelings.
#2. Letters: Writing letters to yourself forces you to step outside of who you currently are. You can write a letter from your current self to your future or past self. Here are a couple of fun websites for encouraging writing future letters to yourself futureme.org or lettertofutureself.com
#3. Interviews: Have a family or friend interview you. Here are some good questions to start with. What are my two greatest strengths? If I had my own TV show what would it be about? When do I look the happiest? What is something new you think I would like that I’ve never tried? What are some areas you think I’m holding back in and not challenging myself or improving? What have you learned from me?
#4. Self Portraits and Self Videos: Drawing and taking a picture of yourself or making a video will force you to look at how you present yourself so you can see what your strengths or weaknesses may be. This can help you address and work through issues you have with self-doubt or low self-esteem. This approach will magnify how you appear but by the end of the process, if done several times will likely make you more confident and courageous.
#5. Scrapbook, Portfolio & Vision Board: Completing a scrapbook or portfolio with pictures and important papers can help with self-reflecting on your past accomplishments and areas you have developed and grown. Doing this can encourage thoughts of how you might want to change and develop further in the future. A vision board is a powerful tool to capture the vision of your next version, using pictures and words that describe the kind of person and life you want to have in the future. This could even be a fun family activity to incorporate over the holidays.
#6. Questions: If you can ask yourself probing and open-ended questions you will be able to see your situations from different perspectives. Questions like why am I choosing to behave this way? What are my core values? What kind of things gives me energy and motivate me? What is the most important thing I should be doing right now? What do I want to do with the rest of my life?
#7. Life Coach: Oftentimes doing these exercises on our own can feel overwhelming. Working with a trained life coach can be a great way to have someone else guide you through a self-observation experience. A life coach can help you to see your current state, then help you to develop a plan for how to change and become the next best version of yourself. “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” – Proverbs 20:5.
What can you learn from your past mistakes or regrets? Is there something you gave up on but could still be revived? Is there a part of your life that can be reframed, tweaked, or polished off?
Most people won’t take the time to do even one of these ideas within their lifetime but as you are thinking of it and understand the value, commit to trying the one that resonates the most with you. There is no time better than the present to try something new especially if you feel stuck and are ready to make a change.
Julie Allen is a Dream Career and Life Coach in the Seattle area. She helps young professionals find meaningful dreams that align with their purpose and potential.
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