Self-reflection is a powerful tool for accessing deeper levels of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
For racial justice allies, it can help you better recognize your own implicit biases about others, process feelings and emotions, and support cross-racial and cross-cultural peers.
What is Self-Reflection?
Self-reflection is the practice of introspection, self-awareness, and self-assessment to better understand yourself and your identity, emotions, and reactions. It’s a continuous process that can improve the way you interact with those around you. Likewise, it can enhance your ability to empathetically approach conversations from various perspectives, which allows you to better engage and support others (Alis, Jaafar, & Ayub, 2018).
Why is Self-Reflection so Valuable?
Living our best lives involves being honest with ourselves, in other words, knowing what our limitations and strengths is important to recognize so we can honor our successes and pursue growth.
One way that we can begin to understand our strengths, weaknesses, biases, and emotions is through self-reflection. This process is often uncomfortable because it provides deeper insight into potentially unflattering beliefs, thinking patterns, and behaviors. For example, when reflecting on how you prioritize always looking “perfect,” you may realize that you judge others when they look unkempt. You may discover that this feels unfair, harsh, or even classist.
You may judge, or even feel shame, about the thoughts and feelings that emerge from self-reflective practice. However, instead of being self-critical, can you approach these realizations with curiosity and gentle inquiry?
You may choose to explore where they came from. Were your parents always demanding when it came to your appearance? Were you taught that anything less than perfection made you “lazy,” “slobby,” or “unworthy?”
Moreover, by taking a kind approach to your thoughts and feelings, you can better understand why they are there and how you will go about dismantling them. Certainly, your journey of self-awareness will take time and effort. You will have raw moments of discomfort — but it is these very moments that facilitate personal growth. By gently and kindly acknowledging your thoughts and feelings, you can begin to see the transformative effects that self-reflection can have on your interaction with others.
Self-Reflection and Cultural Humility: How Do The Two Interact?
There is no course, presentation, or retreat that will leave you knowing all that there is to know about race, culture, and privilege. Therefore, cultural humility embraces a framework of continuous growth, exploration, and education.
In short, the process of becoming more culturally humble requires a life-long commitment to anti-racist behaviors, thoughts, and actions. It is certainly about discovering yourself, understanding your biases and privileges, and developing ways to grow into a more culturally aware and humble person.
Self-reflection is a great tool for better developing and understanding your cultural humility.
To the left, you will find a variety of thought provoking prompts to help you discover your own biases and privileges.
The prompts are in four sections, 1) Dynamics of the Therapeutic Setting, 2) Understanding Identity, 3) Understanding My Own Thoughts and Behaviors, and 4) Taking Accountability.
Through these personal discoveries, you can begin to understand how you react and respond to difficult topics, conversations, and deep personal reflection surrounding race, culture, privilege, power and identity.
In addition to the above reflection prompts, there are two self-reflective note taking templates that you can utilize. The first incorporates prompts, and the second is a blank template that you can make use of to develop your own self reflective prompts. After that, you may continue down your path of self- development, enlightenment and introspection.
What thoughts and feelings are you noticing as you read over or respond to these prompts? Where are they coming from? Being mindful of your physical and emotional responses is one of the most important parts of self-reflection.
I hope these prompts help guide you on your journey towards cultural humility. If you have any other prompts or resources, Viva would certainly love to see them and share them with their audience.
To connect for this or any other reason, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mara Dostie, Viva Clinical Intern – Summer 2020
Alis, Norliza, W. Jaafar and A. Ayub. “Promoting Counseling Competence using Self-Reflection.” (2018).
“The Power of Self-Reflective Note Taking.” The Mindful Therapist, August 7, 2020. https://themindfultherapist.webador.com/481257_the-power-of-self-reflective-note-taking.