Introspection: A window into your unconscious mind.
Introspection is a fascinating concept. Your soul is a place that is undiscovered and unknown to most including yourself and introspection is practically what helps you create a map for it. Introduced and developed by German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt, often credited as the original ‘father of psychology’, introspection has been criticised by psychologists for decades for its unreliability. People aren’t always the best judge of their own actions and thoughts, because right and wrong are subjective. In the head of the person who is analysing their own thoughts, they will almost always be right or find one way or the other to justify their own behaviour. This is because well, they don’t want to analyse themselves and see that they may have more faults than they anticipated. It’s basic human nature, and that’s okay.
So far it seems I’ve only criticised the whole idea of introspection, but in my opinion, it’s the most useful way to analyse someone if — wait for it — it is done well. It’s a little bit of work. So without waiting any longer let’s get into it.
The reason behind this is very simple. Honesty. Looking at this objectively you can try to be as honest with someone as possible but there will be no one who knows the truth better than you because no matter how hard you try to, you can’t lie to yourself. Let’s say, on the surface, you have convinced yourself of some lie you tell yourself as the truth. There will always be a tiny voice in the back of your head. This voice may be the angel of the angel and the devil sitting on your shoulders if you will. This voice knows and tells the truth as the absolute truth. There was a time about two years ago when I was in a bad habit of lying as every person does at a time during their adolescence. I did it because I wanted to keep a particular person in my life. No matter how I justified it in my head there was always something in the back of my mind that told me that what I was doing was wrong. I knew but I chose to ignore it and it killed me on the inside because no matter how hard you try you can never run from the truth. People lie because that’s just an easier option than to face the hard truth that maybe that you’re not as good of a person as you think you are. For example, sometimes you’re selfish and sometimes you’re a little bitter which may result in you in participating in activities that are petty or not something you’d do if you were a bit calmer.That may not be the person you want to be. According to the Self Determination Theory of psychology developed by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, being good to other people can result in a person feeling better about themselves and having better well being. It may vary from person to person but people are more often than not intrinsically motivated to be good. So to be the ideal self, that person who is inherently good, that everyone aspires to be, introspection is essential to achieve that goal. It is a deeper understanding of oneself to the point you know yourself better than you ever have before. It is the way to understand your unconscious intentions which reveals to you the real reason behind, why you do what you do.
HOW TO DO IT RIGHT?
There are many ways to do it right. But all of them have some common factors.
Do it when no one can disturb you: The importance of silence so you can hear and understand your own thoughts cannot be stressed enough. At a time when nothing can come in the way of you and your own mind.
Ask yourself the right questions: Ask questions that provoke your thought process and make you question and all your actions and intentions.
Don’t judge: This is the most important factor to keep in mind while doing this because the moment you judge yourself you take a step away from understanding yourself.
HOW TO ACTUALLY INTROSPECT
You need to pretend you don’t know yourself at all. You’re a complete stranger to yourself. When you sit down to do this, you need to look at your past actions, particularly those you want to understand. It could be your actions from 10 days ago or 10 years ago. Now you need to make a chain of your actions and completely remove the intent from them. So now you have two separate chains. One of the actions and one of the intentions. The common factors in your chain of action can also often be called your behavioural pattern. It’s a little bit confusing and hard initially but it helps you identify the basic core traits that make you who you are and show you why you’re different from anyone else. These traits are generally never good or bad but neutral in nature. For example, my core traits include: indecisive, impulsive and serious. Others’ can be objective, confident, unbiased, assertive. This is because good or bad core traits would imply that people are good or bad at an unconscious level. No one is born good or bad, it is their intentions that make them so. Then you look at your intentions and why you may have had those intentions in the first place. This way you can go deeper and deeper into your own mind until you figure yourself out so well that you are in complete control of who you are and what you do.
When you’re done introspecting you know yourself for who you really are but you should also not forget that everything you do or say is completely human and it’s okay to be who you are. If you don’t necessarily like what you see you can work on it till the day you become the person you really want to be and that day you will be the most satisfied with yourself you ever can be because satisfaction, validation and happiness primarily should come from within you. You are not inherently a bad person. You’re a human being and mistakes are the most important part of your life because these faults are what help you grow and evolve. Human beings are meant to constantly evolve for the rest of your life and I hope that this helps you help yourself evolve a little more every day.