To me the word introspective means realizing your own behavior and actions, in essence analyzing them sometimes even in real-time. The definition of introspection from Merriam Webster is as follows:
“a reflective looking inward : an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings”
Here are a few synonyms for introspective that are related to this post:
- inward looking
- self analyzing
True interpersonal growth is hard to come by without introspection. It is increasingly difficult to change behavior when you don’t even understand its existence. I often observe myself being critical, or engaging in some negative behavior either as it is occurring or immediately after it occurred. These are learning moments, and although it sometimes takes repeated observations, these observations almost always result in a change of behavior. Maybe the the introspection identifies a trigger that is creating the behavior. For instance every-time I come into contact with a particular person they talk about politics or religion and that in turn triggers a critical response from me and I become argumentative. Knowing the trigger that is causing my own undesirable behavior, I now have a choice to either avoid the individual or choose to react differently to them. If I choose not to analyze the behavior, I will repeat it again and again, always with the same result.
Next time you become critical, angry, abusive, judgmental, accusatory, or exhibit any other negative emotion, stop and think about why you feel this way. Analyze your thoughts and determine if these feelings are justified in any way, what is my perception of the events leading to these thoughts, what might be triggering them? If you cannot be introspective you will forever be repeating the undesirable behavior, making yourself and everyone around you miserable. I like the quote above by the Dali Lama as we often seek to blame others for the way we feel, when it is the way we perceive the events and interactions that brings us sorrow.
The question is can we change ourselves by controlling our emotions?
Can we be accountable for the way we feel?
Can we ultimately change our response, perception, and behavior?