Would you choose to give yourself electric shocks?
The situation would have to be pretty extreme for me to voluntarily inflict that sort of pain on myself. But that’s the choice 40% of the participants in a study about thinking made.
What do you think the alternative activity was? What could be so horrible that you’d go to such levels to avoid it? It might surprise you to know that these people didn’t want to spend time simply thinking.
Research shows people spend as little as 17 minutes a day relaxing and taking time to contemplate life. That’s about .01% of your day. No wonder some people were so daunted by the prospect that they decided they’d rather receive physical pain.
How often are children discouraged from doing nothing? But just because someone is physically still, doesn’t mean they aren’t occupied. Reflection is how adults learn. It’s vital for personal growth and development because it helps you gain a greater understanding of yourself.
The ability to hold a clear, consistent image of yourself is known as self-concept clarity. It means you have a strong sense of who you are and can easily and accurately describe yourself to others. When you lack this type of clarity, the way you see yourself is changeable and you are likely to have conflicting beliefs. For example, you may consider yourself to be both shy and assertive.
Knowing yourself well means you accept both your strengths and your weaknesses. Having a high level of self-concept clarity reduces anxiety and depression and increases life satisfaction and wellbeing. It results in a higher level of self-esteem.
These are all important factors for you as an individual, but it brings with it an additional advantage. Research shows it also improves your relationships.
When you’re clear, confident, and accepting about who you are, it’s easier for others to get to know you. This results in relationships with less conflict, more satisfaction, and a greater degree of commitment.
If you’ve ever been involved with an emotionally unpredictable partner, you’ll know how difficult navigating life can be. Predicting accurately how your partner is likely to feel and act, improves both the quality and longevity of your bond.
That isn’t only true for romantic relationships; it also applies to friendships and family connections. Self-reflection and daydreaming are both valuable activities. In fact, you should build time for them into your regular schedule not just hope a window of spare time will appear.
Keeping a journal is a great way to help you with your pondering.
If you aren’t sure where to start, try some or all of the following prompts.
1. List five words that describe you.
2. List five words your family would use to describe you.
3. List five things you’re good at.
4. List five things you’d like to get better at.
5. How would you describe your physical appearance?
6. What are your top three personal values?
7. List three things about yourself that make you feel proud.
8. List three things that you’d put on a bucket list.
9. List three things that you struggle with.
10. What are three things you enjoy but don’t get enough time to do?
11. Are you more like your mother or father? Explain.
12. What were you like as a child?
13. If you went back to school, what would you study? Why?
14. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?
15. What’s been your greatest accomplishment in your life so far? Why?
There are no right or wrong answers to any of these prompts. Be as brutally honest as possible. You don’t have to share your thoughts. Embrace all the facets of yourself, regardless of how flawed they might seem.
This exercise is about clarity, not perfection. You will always be the most perfect version of you there is. Be proud of the wild, the weak and the weird. And remember, there’s nobody else quite like you. Take time to discover what makes you unique.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.