I got a number of responses to my blog yesterday about my "Reflective Thinking" comments while riding my bicycle. I have become a student of the the topic and a growing practitioner of the discipline of reflective thinking, let me share a few observations and principles that I have learned.
1. Very few people spend much time in "reflective thinking" because it is a discipline, that is we don't think this way naturally or easily, so we need to train ourselves to do it.
2. Very few people think reflectively because our thinking is prompted by what we see, hear, and experience all day. Our thinking is focused on the details of life and often moves to thinking patterns that are self-destructive like thinking anxious thoughts about the future, the unknown, or problems, thinking bitter thoughts because of how we have been treated, thinking about the unfairness we have experienced and wallowing in self-pity, thinking angry thoughts. discontent thinking, judgmental-critical thinking, and on the list goes.
3. Reflective thinking has as it's purpose to grow, to become a mature person who has the character of Jesus. Reflective thinking is looking in the mirror and examining our behavior, our habits, our flaws, our motives, our character strengths and weaknesses, our relationship with God, and doing that very honestly without any hint of denial, justifying, blaming, ignoring, or excusing because we don't like what we see in ourselves.
4. Solitude is an absolute requirement to think reflectively, which most must program into their life to make happen.
5. Journaling is the best tool that I have discovered to grow in our skill of thinking about ourselves honestly. Writing about the day not just about events, but what we did, said, thought and why. Journaling has a great power to move us away from the events and look at ourselves as another person. Writing out what we did wrong, or what our flaws are is very powerful in making us an honest, transparent, real person.
6. I ask God to search me and to show me what needs work. I confess all the negatives I see in myself to God and experience his joy and feel the value He places on me.
7. I regularly ask other people who know me well what they see that I could work on, and journal about that experience.