I’m big on reflection. It’s important to check in on where you’ve been, what’s happening now, and where you’re headed. One definition of reflection is ‘careful consideration’. That’s my invitation to you—to carefully consider both the past year of your recovery journey and your life journey to this point.
Before I provide a few guiding questions that might be helpful for reflecting, I want to remind you to do so without judgment. Approach this experience with genuine curiosity, setting judgment aside. It’s equally important to share your reflection with your therapist, sponsor, or friend for helpful feedback and encouragement and for the powerful experience of connection.
I also strongly encourage you to write your reflection longhand rather than on a device. We connect to our thoughts differently when we put pen to paper rather than fingers to keyboard. If you usually journal on your computer or other device, try it with pen and paper and see what you think.*
Ok, on to the questions.
In what areas of your life have you grown? – To start, you may want to do this in list form (i.e., boundaries; how I talk to myself; friendships),then expand on each item. Keep in mind that growth comes from good and difficult experiences. It’s important to acknowledge and think through both.
What hopeful changes have you seen? – Using your list of growth areas as a guide, answer this as specifically as you can (i.e., I held a time boundary with my co-worker; I’m using affirmations more regularly; I have some new friends who are also in recovery). When you feel like nothing is changing, it’ll be helpful to have this to look back on.
Did you work on the recovery goals you hoped to? – These may or may not have been formal goals, but did you focus on some of the things you wanted to work on this year? Remember, approach this with curiosity and try to suspend judgment. You may also want to take a few minutes to think about what you want to focus on next year to help you be more intentional about your recovery. If you do, I’d encourage you to pick no more than two or three to start.
What areas of resistance do you notice? – In other words, are there things that keep coming up for you that you haven’t written about, shared, or worked on in therapy? Resistance is a normal, healthy part of life (and a common part of the therapy process). And it usually comes up around things that are important. Pay attention to resistance and move toward it.
What might be creating the resistance? – Be curious about what’s causing the resistance. Remember, notice without judgment. A great way to do this is with a sentence completion exercise. Write down a sentence having to do with the area of resistance, then complete the sentence down the page in list form. Write down whatever comes to mind, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. And write as many things as you can think of. For example, if one of your areas of resistance is with connecting with your feelings, the sentence completion might look something like this:
If I connect with my feelings, then…
Once you have a better idea of what the resistance is about, you and your therapist can work through it which will help you move forward.
What are you grateful for? Gratitude is a powerful thing. A regular gratitude practice can literally change your brain. It’s important to note that gratitude is not positive thinking, although that can certainly be a part of it. It’s about paying attention to the things for which you feel a deep thankfulness. Acknowledging gratitude doesn’t mean that you ignore things that were difficult, it means you can hold both realities at the same time—there were difficulties, and I feel grateful.
If you have another reflection practice that you find helpful, go for it. The point is to take time to hit the pause button as we end this year. Take a breath. Engage in some careful consideration of the path that you have walked this year and what may be ahead of you.
Peace on the journey,
*The True Self Therapy Journal includes reflection questions and a place to reflect.