The Difficulty of Self Reflection


“The journey into self-love and self-acceptance must begin with self-examination… until you take the journey of self-reflection, it is almost impossible to grow or learn in life.”
– Iyanla Vanzant

The winter of 2019 I believe will be remembered in the minds of many people in West Michigan for years to come.  The constant school closings, cold, ice, power outages, and let’s not forget the relentless cold and flu bugs. The horrid nature of our season caused a lot of disruption to our lives.  Most of us have already suppressed and maybe even repressed that this season ever existed, and are now basking in the 50 degree heaven of spring.

The practice of self reflection can be just as difficult as getting outside to shovel your driveway or sidewalk in subzero weather.  Our lives are filled with a lot of uncomfortable and at times painful experiences that keep us buried inside of ourselves.  A friend recently asked me to examine the difficulty in self reflection, and why I believe it may be so hard to “dig” ourselves out of the unconscious blizzard we often exist in.  My search into this difficult task begun with understanding what self reflection actually means. I started with the Webster definition.


  1. meditation or serious thought about one's character, actions, and motives.

Here’s another from Wikipedia:  The capacity to exercise introspection and willingness to learn more about one’s fundamental nature, purpose, and essence.

I know the difficulty of this practice well.  

In my adolescence, before ever understanding what self reflection was from a therapeutic perspective, I adopted the unconscious skill of “looking into the mirror.” While my hair typically looked good, I often found myself feeling scared, and then ashamed of what I was looking at.

Like many, for years I tried staying outside of myself rather than doing the hard and painful internal work of shoveling the snow that was blocking me from taking action towards changing the self defeating attitudes and behaviors that can keep us trapped inside. This is the difficulty found in looking within yourself; initially you may not like what you see, it may be scary, painful and difficult to go inside, and you may feel alone in this. Change is always occurring, as are the seasons within our lives. Self Reflection brings awareness to the areas of ourselves that need change and attending, much like salting and plowing the roads in the middle of a Michigan winter.

Sometimes, beginning this work is the most difficult part of the process.  It could mean being vulnerable with yourself or someone you can trust. If you or somebody else you know could benefit from this type of relationship, the therapists at MCGR would be honored to partner with you in this work.