The need for inner reflection and how to find space in the silence
Let me ask you a very personal question: Would you like you, if you met you? In her ground-breaking book, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, American author Byron Katie explores this thought-provoking concept, pointing out that ultimately ‘It’s not your job to like me, it’s mine’.
Our lives are full of ups and downs, joys and heartbreak, the expected and the unexpected. Life has a unique way of teaching us, making us listen, and putting us in a quiet corner to pause and reflect when necessary – during times of difficulty or sorrow.
I have often heard people explain that times of silence and sorrow provided an opportunity to really connect with themselves. Silence is a space of self-awareness and growth, it allows our inner voice – often drowned out by louder, more pressing ones – to be heard. It helps us to hear and therefore process our emotions.
Though not easy, I believe it can often be a blessing in disguise to welcome sorrow, as it is during these times that we are most able to find a moment of real self-reflection.
In today’s chaotic world, this moment can be hard to come by. Our days start with noise and end with hundreds of thoughts and unfinished to-do lists. To fit into the society we have created, we often blindly follow its expectations, to the point where we are overwhelmed and exhausted. Doing this occupies us mentally, emotionally and physically, yet it distracts from important inner work. The less quiet time we dedicate to ourselves, the more we feel a void. The busier we are, the more we are left seeking real connection, a reason for being.
Katie’s method of self-reflection, which she terms ‘The Work’ is a simple process of thought enquiry that can quickly get to the heart of our inner voice. In the words of Eckhart Tolle, ‘it acts like a razor-sharp sword that cuts through the illusion and enables you to know yourself and the timeless essence of your being’.
She suggests that whenever we have a thought, feeling or story that weighs on us – perhaps that we are not truly loved by someone, that we will not achieve our dreams or that something bad is likely to happen – we pause and ask four questions concerning that thought:
1)Is It True?
2) Can You Absolutely Know It’s True?
3) How Do You React When You Believe That Thought?
4) Who Would You Be Without the Thought?
Stressful thoughts belong to us all. Unless we are mindful, they can easily influence or overwhelm our decisions and choices. We cannot always drop ideas and opinions, but we can shine a light on those thoughts, question them and weed out the genuine issues from the unfounded fears. In doing this we become aware and selective about where we place our energy. It’s not about changing anything; it’s all about holding up a mirror to our internal narrative and seeing what is really there.
If you want to live without the suffering of your thoughts, I really recommend doing ‘The Work’. I have found it to be especially helpful in areas where you might find yourself feeling defensive or unsure what is right. These four questions will bring more clarity and growth. The answers will liberate you and help you find your frequency, genuine admiration, passion, and authenticity. An aware mind can see things clearly, freed from the cloud of innumerable thoughts and judgments.
We need to find time for self-reflection, to observe and honour the power of our mind and its imagination. Only then can we recognise our realities to lead a fulfilling life. Once we are conscious of ourselves, everything around us starts making more sense. My own self-help voyage has taught me to aim at a growth mindset. Reassurance is all our inner self needs, love yourself and the rest will follow. As Byron Katie said, ‘it’s not your job to like me; it’s mine.’