What does Introspective Mean? Is Introspection Important?

What does Introspective Mean? Is Introspection Important?

When we find ourselves searching for answers to no avail, it is usually because the answer is already inside of us. Learning the art of self-introspection and being introspective can help you uncover the answers you have inside. 

​​Introspection is the process of looking inward to examine your own thoughts and emotions. We often use this term to refer to the informal process of exploring your inner life, but it can also be used formally as an experimental technique in psychology. 

At The Daily Shifts, self-introspection is an important part of our daily mindfulness practices that help increase our self-awareness and help guide us on the path to a life well-lived.

What does introspective mean?

Introspection is the study of your own conscious thoughts and feelings. In the spiritual context, this refers to the examination of your higher self, or soul and in the medical world, the process of introspection relies on the observation of your mental state. Someone who is introspective would be described as always analyzing their own actions. It can also be explained as examining your perceptions and sensory experiences, as well as the act of contemplation or being thoughtful about yourself.

Introspection is self-examination by looking at your own personality and actions and considering your personal motivations. A simple example of introspection would be meditating, especially meditation to understand your feelings deeper.

The Psychology Behind Introspection

The term introspection is considered a research technique that was first developed by psychologist Wilhelm Wundt. He referred to introspection as experimental self-observation, his technique involved training people to analyze context within personal opinions objectively. This practice is used to look at how the mind processes emotions and memories and then understand their meanings.

The practice was widely used in the United States and Europe. In order to understand the mind, Wundt believed that researchers needed to do more than simply identify the structure or elements of the mind. Instead, it was essential to look at the processes and activities that occur as people experience the world around them. He believed by becoming an expert of your own emotions would lead you to fulfillment and sense of purpose.

Researchers continue to explore introspection, but it is debated whether introspection is a tool to observe a person's thoughts, or more valuable spiritually when observing feelings of one's soul.

Self Introspection Practices

Self-introspection or looking inward is an important part of self-awareness and can help people gain insight into their own feelings and behavior. By implementing self-introspection practices we will gain a greater sense of self, better relationships, and stronger decision-making skills. Find success with these self-introspection practices. 

  • Journaling. Ask yourself some tough questions. How do I feel? How do I want to feel? What is the nature of my block?
  • Meditate. Sitting in silence with your thoughts for as long as possible is the best way to uncover any truth. 
  • Writing exercises. When you’re mind is feeling jumbled, writing exercises can help organize your thoughts. Challenge yourself by setting a timer for 5-10 minutes and write down everything that is on your mind. Reflect on your writing and see how it makes you feel. 
  • Breathing exercises. Surprisingly, breathing exercises can bring up a lot of stuck emotions and help us move through tough situations. Try one of these simple breathing exercises next time you need to self-reflect.

The Right Way to be Self Introspective

There is no wrong way to practice self-introspection. All you need to do is ask yourself some questions. Get curious about yourself and ask questions about yourself. If it’s easier, write down the questions, and make sure you write down your answers to the questions. You can ask yourself about your past, present, and future, and compile answers to the questions that are positive, insightful, and motivating to you.

We have less time for self-introspection now more than ever. We are generally filling all our free time with entertainment that is constantly at the tip of our fingers. It’s easy to get wrapped up in life and forget to slow down. This is where self-introspection practices save the day. 

When we mindfully integrate self-introspection practice into our wellness routine we can create checkpoints for ourselves to tune in and know how we are really doing at our core. While this healthy form of introspection can be helpful and comforting, introspection can take an unhealthy form as well. 

Sometimes, during self-introspection, the feelings that come up don’t feel good. Not only does it not feel good, but it can also start a spiral that can be hard to get out of. This can turn to rumination which rehearses things you did or that was done to you in the past. This type of self-introspection will start to work against you, ultimately preventing you from taking any real action. 

This is where adding structure and building healthy habits with your self-introspection may help. Processing all the introspection is part of doing the work.

Introspection Quotes for Reflection & Growth

“I learned a long time ago, the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side.” - Maya Angelou

“Keep taking time for yourself until you’re you again.” - Lalah Delia

"Dwell not on the faults and shortcomings of others; instead, seek clarity about your own." - Buddha

“We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy's fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure--your perfection--is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the buy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.” - Elizabeth Gilbert

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." - Leo Tolstoy

"Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people." - Carl Jung

"Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful." - Margaret J. Wheatley

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