How often do we take the time to reflect upon ways we overcame hardships? Although such a powerful way to progress through difficulties, I feel reflections are rarely done.
When stress hits hard, we tend to hit ourselves harder. We live in a world full of competition, rush, and criticism that often leads to feeling drained and numb. Previous posts mentioned mindfulness – a useful tool. What if mindfulness is being honest with feeling numb? Perhaps this is the first step.
Although mindfulness encourages the present moment rather than the past, reflecting can be beneficial. As faculty, I believe reflections can help with checking in with my mood, progress, and motivation. However, I feel like it is hard to reflect for two reasons. One: time isn’t normally dedicated to reflection (similar to how I don’t dedicate enough time for the gym). Two: it’s hard to reflect. Growing up in a judgmental society, who wants to reflect if most thoughts tend to be negative? “That could have been better.” “That wasn’t good enough.” When times get hard, they seem to get harder.
When with students, I do not reflect my work as much as I would like to. Part of me feels like I wish to avoid this because it often leads to areas of enhancement. Nothing wrong with improvement, although I believe it is not useful to reflect improvement when already feeling drained and numb. Then again, there are times when in a better mood and reflections can also include achievements and strengths. I suppose waving our own flags and pom poms can be helpful.
One thing I feel would be helpful is reflecting with trusted colleagues. We have weekly group consultation meetings that can be a great opportunity to check in and reflect what is going on as a faculty member. Reflections can be with other people, especially the ones we trust. I wonder how this applies to students?
Sometimes faculty presents students with a reflective paper at the end of term. Students can write about their personal experience going through the class, working with the professor, and collaborating with one another. They can share not only about the ways they made it through the class, but also ways in which they persevered through their journey with wisdom. I truly believe that wisdom is gained through reflecting experiences.
When I was a college student, I learned more about myself during college compared to any other time in my life. I furthered melded my identity, enhance confidence, expanded mental and emotional flexibility, and learned what worked and did not work in my life.
What do others feel? Do self-reflective papers (even ungraded) seem to help students and faculty gain further insight about their growth in academic settings?