Originally posted on March 23, 2018
By Scott Waletzko
Mental Spring Cleaning Week 3 – Reflections
For the third and penultimate week of my March Maple Challenge I started writing daily Reflections from Crys Wood’s “Consider It (Vol 1)” Reflection package. As in previous weeks, I was surprised at how I had underestimated both the benefits and difficulties of the exercise.
On Day One when the first prompt came up, I immediately said “nope” and clicked on to the next one. It’s wasn’t a bad prompt; the problem was that the question was so good and deep that thinking about answering it triggered a bunch of emotions I wasn’t prepared to deal with. It was like being thrown onto a therapist’s couch suddenly and without warning. Rattled, I quickly typed out a response to the next Reflection prompt that came up (which was also deep, but not as triggering), saved it, and went on with my day.
So, the first thing I learned was that writing Reflections isn’t something that can be done idly. We are used to using social media to frivolously browse what other people post as a distraction from our lives but working in Maple is not like that at all. It’s actually work; and as such it requires emotional preparation, time, and effort.
But, as I’ve been learning all month, the work pays off in insight and personal growth, which is something social media simply cannot provide.
The next day’s prompt was another good one. Halfway through typing my response, however, I realized that I was just going through my rote canned response to the subject of the question. It was the same thing I’d say if the topic came up during a regular conversation at Happy Hour or something.
And that’s when I realized the real potential to the hard work of journaling and reflections: it’s a great opportunity to call bullshit on yourself.
It’s not that my usual response in this case was right or wrong, it’s just that I had it stored away somewhere in my brain and called it up without consciously considering it again.
I figured that since I was writing a Reflection that only I can see, I owed it to myself to stop and actually reflect for a minute. When I did that, I realized that the answer I usually identified with as “my position on that topic” was much more nuanced than I had thought. I’d been saying and thinking the same thing about that idea for many, many years, even though so much of my world and life has changed dramatically in that same time.
It was an eye-opening revelation, and exactly the kind of insight that we had hoped Maple could help facilitate for people.
For my upcoming last week, I’m going to write a daily journal. I was planning on writing in my daily writing journal again, in which I write 750+ words on the first topic that comes to mind. I started one of these in Maple last year but stopped when things just got too busy to keep up with it. It was something I really enjoyed doing, and I was kind of looking forward to getting back to it.
However, after the insights I got from reflecting on Crys’ Consider it Reflection prompts, I decided instead to start keeping a daily journal, which is something I’ve never done before. I am looking forward to seeing what I learn from doing it, and as usual I’ll be back to share my experience with you all.
Until then, Happy Mapling!
A note from Chris: I often recommend that folks begin with a Reflection Package when they tell me they want to journal but have no idea what to write. Yes, our Reflections can serve as a starting point or a journaling prompt, but they are also meant to get you thinking deeply.
Certainly one way that we reflect is by speaking back what we heard, similar to Scott’s experience when he found himself responding with his “stock answers” to a question. But another type of reflection is when we sit in genuine contemplation, as he did later in his example. It’s this intention to consciously consider a response that is powerful. It leads to insights that move us along in our personal growth journey or help us commit to our self-care.
For me, the act of reflecting is itself self-care. My typical MO is: I get a wisp of an insight, recognize it’s gravity and then scurry off without truly bringing it into focus. Translated: that is a lost opportunity.
Instead I can dedicate time, even a few minutes, to ponder and really challenge myself to be authentic, face fears and stop making excuses. It’s the “No BS Zone”. This is an occasion to get crisp on what the insight is, which becomes a chance, not only for precise insight, but to hear and value myself and choose what to do with what I discover. Isn’t that the basis of self-care?
Candidly, I believe that the hard part is not the thinking and reflecting. The real work comes as we process those thoughts and challenge ourselves to put the insights to use in pursuit of our goals – either personal or professional.
Activating our insights is how we rise above what we struggle with and make progress. That’s powerful! Yet it doesn’t need to come from a fancy program or working with a high-profile guru (though I do love those experiences). It can be sparked from where you are sitting right now. Just by answering a question or a prompt and giving it your full attention.
#StartSimple #Mindful #Reflection #PersonalGrowth #SelfCare
FYI – Maple comes with a set of Reflection prompts for free and you can also select from a variety of affordable packages, like the one Scott used or our new Self Care Reflection Package, which are available in the Maple Store. Need help deciding? Just want to talk it through? Happy to help! Drop a comment, contact us or schedule a free session.