Self-Reflection is Critical for Personal Development
If you’ve ever experienced losing the physical connection with someone, or even with apet, you would have experienced grief. Grief is a normal, instinctive response to loss or impending loss of a loved one. And it’s widely believed that a period of grief is merely a period of sadness that you will eventually get over or you will achieve a ‘sense of closure’ and your life will go back to how things were before the death. For some that may be the case. And of course, the dominant (but certainly not the only) emotion during grief is sadness. But grief also presents an opportunity for spiritual transformation. Embracing your grief is key for healing and positive spiritual transformation.
Importantly, the transformative potential that lies within the experience of grief hinges on how you perceive your grief. If you see your grief as only a period of intense sadness then you really only see one half of it. However, if you are able to see your grief within a spiritual context you will also see the potential for spiritual transformation.
Psychologists and counselors are discovering that grief never really ends regardless of how much time passes nor if a ‘sense of closure’ is attained. Yes, the grief may become more manageable over time but that does not mean that the grieving stops. A loved one’s birthday, an anniversary, Christmas or other significant events can trigger the raw pain of grief again no matter how many years have passed since your loved one’s physical body died.
Just as the death of your loved one’s physical body is a spiritual transformation for them because that is when their consciousness transitions from the physical realm to the spiritual realm, your grief represents a spiritual opportunity for you. So while death is a transformation for the dying, grief is an opportunity for transformation for the living.
Your grief is an opportunity for you to deepen your sense of the spiritual by reflecting on not only your loved one’s life but your life too. The process of self-reflection can serve a therapeutic purpose and is a useful means to deepening your sense of the spiritual. Indeed, silence, reflection, love and humility are the most precious offerings on the sacred altar of the soul.
Self-reflection is an important form of learning in any context but in the context of grief it is a journey of learning about your inherent spiritual core. It is a contemplative, meditative experience. An experience characterized by peace and silence. And peace and silence are the wings of the soul.
Self-reflection is the opposite of what we normally do each day as we necessarily must take our minds and thoughts outwards to the physical realm. Clearly, each of us has a responsibility to ourselves and to others to perform the various roles we play in modern society. But self-reflection or introspection is totally different and provides respite from our busy modern lives. The ancient Greek edict, ‘know thyself’ is a clarion call for self-reflection and spiritual development. To ‘know thyself’ is to know the spirit within. And to know the spirit within is to know your inherent spiritual nature will continue to exist beyond the death of the physical body.
Self-reflection is critical for personal development because it increases self-awareness of your feelings, thoughts, any issues you may be experiencing and how you can resolve them. Psychological studies confirm this and show that having a realistic awareness of where one is mentally in relation to a goal is a motivating factor in achieving that goal. Importantly, self-reflection should not be confused with the destructive narcissistic behavior associated with self-absorption in which a selfish person has an unrealistic and grossly inflated perception of themselves.
In contrast, self-reflection is an opportunity to be introspective and to consider questions about life and death. You may reflect on whether death serves any purpose and whether life holds any meaning. You may also reflect on your life’s purpose. And is your life purpose consistent with your personal core values? If you haven’t considered what your life purpose is nor what values you hold, a time of grief may be a good time to reflect on those things because it may make you realize that perhaps you need to live more consciously and with more spiritual purpose. That’s when your grief has the potential to be transformative.
If you feel that you need to live your life with more spiritual purpose, perhaps you may need to make some changes in your life to re-align your ‘compass’ so that you can fulfill your life’s purpose in the best possible way while possibly honoring the physical life lived by your loved one. Any lifestyle changes you feel you need to make may seem small but can have far-reaching positive benefits not only for your life in the physical realm but also for your life in the spiritual realm when the time eventually comes for your own physical body to die.
About the author: Alistair Conwell lives in Australia and has psychology qualifications. His books, Soul Comfort: Uplifting Insights Into the Nature of Grief, Death, Consciousness and Love for Transformation and The Audible Life Stream: Ancient Secret of Dying While Living, are available from on-line and location bookstores around the world. Links: http://www.6th-books.com/authors/alistair-conwell
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