Turn your Reflections into Lessons
Its been that time of the year again that we all look forward to. The season that is recognized world over, and what a way to close the year as we spend, indulge and unwind. But on same breath, end of year brings with it a mixture of feelings. There is joy as well as relief as we reflect on the year that is ending; and this is probably where the problems begin, because year-end has various meanings at individual level. We hear people say “this has been my worst year, I can’t wait for it to end” or, “what have I to show for this year” while others say “this has been the best year”. And it is no wonder we look to the beginning of the year in equal enthusiasm. But generally, when we assess the whole year, we may not see any good and no wonder end of year reflections can be rather depressing. This is why I would like us to look at some point of reflection.
For the purposes of our discussion, we define reflection as a time when you sit and assess your thoughts and consider or meditate about something about your life. This means thinking through some of the things you have said, done or not said or done. You assess them and see if they were right; you then judge yourself. After the reflection we are either proud or embarrassed of our actions or our failure to act. Reflection is something we should do regularly in order to reshape our lives. But apparently, we rarely allow ourselves to experience reflection as we are too busy moving from one task to another. Or we just refuse to reflect because we would rather live in denial of our own participation in our not so successful lives. Our busy life schedule does not help as we move from task to task without thinking how each of them affects the others and how all these fit into the big scheme of life.
However, when it comes to end of the year, reflection is hard to avoid. Actually, some people mess the positive Christmas mood as they experience shame and regret in the course of their reflection. Perhaps this is enhanced by the getting together with families and friends. As we reunite and catch up since last Christmas, we tend to “report” our progress since last Christmas. And for some reasons, Christmas time can in a way be a time to show off and so if one has “nothing” to show, then you can guess how they will be. Join me as we explore three common points of reflection that may affect you negatively:
- Things you wish you did but you didn’t do:
- So, at the beginning of the year, you had your New Year resolutions clearly stipulated. You were to save money for your project. You noted that you had problems with your close friends and you concluded that you would develop a positive attitude. But as you look back, you feel like you are worse off. And so you wish you treated people better, that you were more disciplined with your finance. You also wish you were more reasonable with that girlfriend that left you. And on and on you can go with wishes. But you know what, the fact remains that you did not do what you were supposed to do, you failed; but it is up to you to decide whether you are a failure or not. Because you cannot go back to January; but another January is coming and guess what, it’s your only saving grace. So please cooperate and give yourself a chance, try next year. Because the past is just that, the past, so try next month.
- Things you did but wish you didn’t:
- You fell in love, dated the wrong people and got hurt; and now you think all men are beasts. You told your boss off and lost your job; hence the last part of this year you have been hustling. You needed money so badly and you went behind your friends back and betrayed them for money favors. You spent too much time in the office and now you have grown apart with your children… On and on you go… and so as you reflect, you feel unworthy, untrustworthy and unreliable, you feel you are a bad person, because you did all the wrong things. Once again I agree it is a fact, that you should have been smarter; but you were not. But now as you reflect and feel guilty, the only smart thing to do is to learn from your mistakes and hope to do better next year. write down your reflection and draw some lessons therein. This way, you may probably enjoy your holiday.
- The heavy cost of the time you wasted:
- Time is probably the most costly thing that cannot be recovered. And sometimes we waste more time as we regret over the lost time. Time can be wasted in all the wrong moves that we make; wrong relationships, job, and investment. And probably the toughest investments are emotional; you can lose money and somehow recover, but if you have heavily invested and reinvested your love and heart in someone and then it fails, the damage is huge. And it is often carried on to the next relationship leading into a vicious cycle. If a couple spends a whole year in a stalemate, the cost is enormous. But probably it’s not a waste if you can evaluate the year and come up with some logical conclusion about your relationship and the way forward. So in your reflection, you can turn the negative feelings into points of decision making. But you may need to be helped by an objective person-a mentor or a counselor, in order to turn your pain into gains.
It is obvious that we all go through some soul search at the end of the year. But after dealing with human problems for long, I have observed that we can be too harsh on ourselves. Especially if we hold a position of power; which we all do, as parents, bosses, teachers etc. And if as a person you are very harsh and strict to others, this reflection could kill you. But it ought not to; instead, reflect and learn from your mistakes because you are human. I have also learned that apparently, we live life forward but learn backwards.
“We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting from experience” John Dewey
(Adapted from Salon Magazine by Jennifer Ndete)
HAPPY NEW YEAR.