Do you ever take the time to reflect on your life and revisit the path you have travelled thus far?
When I look back and reflect on my life, the word that comes into my mind over and over again is, FULL. I have lived a life full of laughter, joy, sadness, heartbreaks, disappointments, really bad decisions, really good decisions, awful mistakes, and huge lessons. I have had to find my way through experiences that seemed impossible and I have had my moments when everything seemed perfect. Me being the person I am, I have felt things deeply and profoundly, in the only way my sensitive soul knows how. I have had to pick myself back up (a few times), learn some really tough, but cool shit, and grown a lot more than I ever thought I would need to.
For a very long time, my experience of reflection was also known as my experience of beating myself up. I would look back at my life and go over all the things that I could have done differently. My endless mantras of “what if,” “if only,” and “how could I” played on repeat over and over in my head. It wasn’t that I necessarily had regrets, more that I couldn’t give myself a break for the choices I made to get me to where I was. As you can imagine, this did not feel good and certainly did not get me anywhere.
Then I discovered the answer, or at least I thought I had.
Stop looking back at the past and keep moving forward. I learned that if I constantly stayed busy and kept striving toward something in my future, I didn’t have to reflect on my past and deal with the cycle of beating myself up. And besides, everyone was talking about being positive, so I figured I must have it right!
Wrong! Eventually this masterful method of avoidance caught up to me and I realized that I couldn’t have the future I wanted without taking the time to learn from my past. The lesson wasn’t about avoiding reflection, the lesson was about learning to use reflection as a gift and tool toward my growth. Wow…talk about an AHA moment for me, and I hope for you as well.
Reflection is not an excuse to beat yourself up, going over your past mistakes and finding all the things you could have done differently. Reflection is not something to be avoided, running from it at all costs. And reflection is certainly not a tool meant to keep you stuck and living in the past.
You are not the only one to have made mistakes that makes you wish you could crawl into a hole. You are among the many who have fallen in love with the wrong person, or gotten your heart broken by the right one. You have lost friendships, screwed up jobs, let yourself go, and the list goes on and on. You have gone through all of these things not so you can beat yourself up over them, but so that you can transcend them and become who you have been created to be.
What is reflection then?
Reflection is a gift that allows you to discover and embody the wisdom you are meant to develop as you traverse the journey of your life. Reflection is a tool that allows you to see everything you have been through and to honor how far you have come. It is the way in which we are able to learn and to grow larger than who we have been and become who we are meant to be.
And so I ask of you, be gentle and kind with yourself as you look back over your life and wonder at how far you have come. When you honor yourself for the strength you have shown as you have overcome traumas and struggles. Love yourself through your sadness and disappointments, then smile and laugh your way through the successes. You truly are the hero of your life and a hero is to be celebrated and honored.