Using a ‘reflective journal’
Using a ‘reflective journal’
The aim is to improve awareness of the faults in our thought processing.
By doing this, we also increase our self-awareness and learn when and where we should pause before responding during our daily activities and interactions with others.
It doesn’t matter whether you use a notebook and journal by hand, or whether you use electronic tools – both are beneficial. Reading your records out-loud to yourself reinforces all the things you have learned.
Write a list of your aims on the front page of your journal which may include:
- Understanding my intentions
- Understanding my values
- Recognising my insights
- Improving my processing speed
- Getting to know me again
Use your imagination to add as many aims to this list as you can. Think about your intentions – what do you want to achieve?
Using a journal and reflective techniques also helps us to monitor our emotions better and:
- focus on and understand our thoughts
- understand our responses
- experiment with ideas and develop them one step at a time
- rein in our thinking so that it becomes more organised
- reflect on processes behind our experiences and note causes of outcomes in greater detail to increase understanding
- reinstate previous thought processes so that our thinking feels familiar again
- express our feelings and emotions and notice where we need to make amends
- reflect on experiences to make sense of them
- encourage remembering, encourage repetition and maximise our chances of forming new habits
- allows us to ask ourselves questions and to investigate and challenge our answers
- allows us to notice and challenge our assumptions or automatic unconscious responses
- allows us to report our realisations back to others developing understanding and encouraging feedback and support
- increases propensity for self-responsibility
- widens perspectives and views and helps us form new ones
- analyse and make more sense of events
- building a range of possible conclusions allowing us to explore each in more depth
- form data for exploration by investigating our understanding of basic facts rather than assuming we fully understand already
- increases insight
- gives us a basis for comprehension other experiences
- helps us understand alternatives
- develops our ability to be mindful and to pay attention
- helps us evaluate what was good and what was bad and needs improving which increases our awareness and chances of improving responses
Using reflective techniques is a dynamic process, so the more we do, the better we get. The more we practise this, the more significant the improvements in our executive function, cognitive skills and self-awareness, and ability to self-monitor and pre-empt possible pitfalls.
Make an action plan. When something doesn’t go as expected, pause, write it down, and relax knowing you will investigate this later.