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I’ve blogged about reacting versus responding, but recently have been reminded of another word that needs to be thrown into the mix: reflecting. Many people have scant idea what the word means and rarely, if ever, reflect upon their thoughts and actions. Other people confuse reflection with dwelling on or obsessing about issues or emotions. Reflection is an essential tool for living and recovering from food abuse.
We all know what it means to react. Words fly out of your mouth before you even realize you’re speaking or know what you’re saying. You hit the brakes when a squirrel races across the street in front of your car. You reach for a slice of birthday cake at a party before asking yourself if you’re hungry or like this kind cake. It’s healthy to react quickly in certain life-threatening situations but, frankly, most of life is hardly made up of events in which you must act quickly or face death. Most of life is comprised of minor decisions which may not seem, but may be, meaningful at the time.
Because we’re busy, we’re usually on auto-pilot when it comes to decision-making and may develop a habit of making all decisions through reacting rather than reflecting. Too many of us barely or rarely consider our motivation. We believe what our parents believed politically, morally or spiritually, parent the same way or the intentionally opposite way we were raised, are comfortable in our lack of consideration of larger issues, and often go along to get along. Reflection makes us uneasy because it throws us into confusion or, worse, not knowing what we think or whether it’s right or wrong.
Reflection means considering how we think and behave. It’s not about making judgments or deciding whether we’re worthwhile human beings. It’s mulling things over, looking at the self and life from every angle, observing our feelings, beliefs, and behaviors objectively, letting thoughts bounce or float around until they settle somewhere. Reflection is holding up a mirror to ourselves. The process offers surprises about who we are as often as confirmation, confusion as often as clarity.
Practicing reflection shows maturity and leads us to enlightenment. By getting to know yourself better, you will take more appropriate and effective action. By thinking more about who you really are, you will move closer to who you really want to be. Carve out time to reflect every day and make it a habit so that you do it as automatically as reacting. Especially around food, let your mind do more work than your impulses so that you retrain your brain to stop and think before making choices.
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