Example of Self Reflection: River of Life


Life is a journey. And you are the hero of your own journey. Slowing down and reflecting is so crucial in this unique journey of yours. That is why I am so excited to dive deeper to self-reflect.

What does it mean to reflect on yourself? What is a self-reflection

Self-reflection is meaning to slow down becoming present and look at your emotions, thoughts, actions, body feelings with a perspective.

Why is it important?

We are living in a life, where we are free for our choices. Each of us is shaping our own lives. We are responsible for it.

Even when we pass through some situations where we prefer to not be part of, we are the ones with the ability to respond, instead of reacting.

The importance of self-reflection is coming from gaining control of your life, accepting your self-responsibility, and responding to situations from becoming present instead of reacting with fear.

I like to imagine myself as an orchestra chef. There are many voices and many archetypes inside me. The more-reflect, the more I gain information about who I am. So I can serve better as an orchestra chef to create my music of life.

What does self-reflection do?

  • Self-reflection makes you become present and look to you a step further.
  • Giving you the chance of better understanding.
  • Providing you a perspective about your life, from where do you come, where are you now and where do you want to go.
  • Understand your needs here and now, instead of focusing on the past and future.
  • Facilitating to take self-care and understand and prioritize your needs.

Benefits of it

  • Self-reflection opens the doors of self-acceptance and self-compassion. The more we accept ourselves and have compassion for ourselves, the more we will be able to show acceptance and compassion to others.
  • Thanks to self-reflection, you understand your needs, desires, and dreams. You understand your strengths and limits. You can create a feasible action plan for your life to make your dreams come true. Self-reflection fosters self-esteem.
  • Make it possible to live for yourself, foster self-care and self-love.

Quotes on self-reflection

To look at the importance of self-reflection, looking to the self-reflection quotes can inspire us.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

“The deepest secret is that life is not a process of discovery, but a process of creation. You are not discovering yourself but creating yourself anew. Seek, therefore, not to find out who you are, seek to determine what you want to be.”

“A man must find time for himself. Time is what we spend our lives with. If we are not careful we find others spending it for us. . . . It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, 'Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?' . . . If one is not careful, one allows diversions to take up one's time—the stuff of life.”

How to self-reflection?

How do you practice self-reflection?

Self-reflection is a journey of more than one tool. Once you start to look deeper into yourself with curiosity, and with questions, once the conversation starts with yourself and that you are humble enough to listen then the journey starts.

The journey of self-reflection is a journey of a friendship with yourself. The more you care and satisfy your needs and keep your promises and be there for yourself, the deeper you will self reflect.

Questions for self-reflect

Self-reflection questions can vary dramatically depending on your intention and the circumstances. Below I am giving you some examples of questions for self-reflection.

  1. How do I feel right now?
  2. How does my body feel right now? Any part of my body hurts?
  3. How are my thoughts right now? Are they calm or is there any thought that coming and going again and again?
  4. Am I in my comfort zone, stretch zone, or panic zone right now? Am I being able to listen? (you can read about Comfort, Stretch, Panic Model here)
  5. Am I able to deal with conflict productively? If not, why is it not? How do I react instead of respond? Am I attacking myself, attacking others, withdrawing or avoiding? (you can read about the compass of shame here)
  6. What gives me joy in my life?
  7. What is my source of information?
  8. What do you ground yourself in? Where do you draw strength from? What feeds your spirit?
  9. Who or what has shaped or is shaping you?
  10. What are you manifesting in the world? What organizations are you a part of?
  11. What do you feel proud of?
  12. What do you hope for in the future?
  13. What are the 3 things that you would like to be/do/have in a year from now? What do you need to do today/tomorrow/this week and this month to accomplish them?
  14. What do you want to let go of in your life?

What is an example of self-reflection?

Self-reflection is being aware of yourself and looking at yourself with curiosity, to understand you better and be a good accompany of yourself in this life.

A little self-reflection example that I do daily is during my morning meditations. Once I start my meditation, I close my eyes, I take 3 deep breaths and I do a simple check-in. I check my body to see if any part of me hurts. I check my mind to realize my thoughts if they are calm and in silence or many things are going on inside. Lastly, I check my mood, my emotions to see how I feel.

This little exercise helps me to be aware of my reality at that specific time and plan my day accordingly.

“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”

Self-reflection exercises

Art as a tool for self-reflection

Today, I would like to invite you to a beautiful tool, called the river of life. You can also see another self-reflection tool I talked about previously, Tree of Life, here. Both of these self-reflection exercises get the help of art for self-expression. Enjoy!

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”

What is the river of life?

River of Life is an exercise/tool/method developed by Joyce Mercer, to reflect on one’s life. You are imagining your life as a river and try to draw your life journey based on the symbolic elements of a river.

When done with a group, it is a great facilitator to deep listening and sharing about each other’s stories.

How do you make a river of life?

You can find the details about how to do the river of life below. This explanation of the parts below is from the YES Facilitation Manual.

  1. Prepare blank paper and colorful pens to draw.
  2. Close your eyes for a while. Take 3 deep breaths, relax.
  3. Imagine your life as a river, a journey of water. Like all rivers, it may have had ebbs and flows, small waterfalls, twists, and turns, maybe even dams and whirlpools. Think about those key moments and experiences in your life that have shaped you? That has made you the person they are today. When you think about who you are, what life experiences have been vital to your growth and development? What has been essential to your journey? Ask these questions to yourself and listen to the answers in silence.
  4. After a few minutes of silence, open your eyes, and create your own ‘River of Life’. You can use the sheet to draw your river in any way that reflects those key experiences. Words, symbols, images, can all be used in your river.
  5. Take about 20-30 minutes to make your river.

Do not forget, we are all born as artists. Each of our rivers will be unique and different. Let yourself free to express.

Self-reflection: once done, reflect on your river of life

  • Where did you feel vulnerable in your river?
  • Where did you feel joy?
  • What is one experience you want everyone to know about if they are to understand you?
  • What are those experiences that you have learned from and you want to let go of?

River of life presentation

You can present a river of life to your friends and host a gathering to do it together. It is a great way to learn about each other’s life stories and get deeper into our relationships.

River of life discussion

River of life is making it easy to be vulnerable and discover our commonalities and uniqueness. It facilitates a place for deep listening and deep sharing.

Once everybody creates their own river own life, you can invite your friends to share their story via the image. You can get the help of those reflective questions above to go deeper.

River of life exercise example

Here in this video, you can see an example of a river of life drawing.

Self-reflection tips

  • Keep in mind that self-reflection is a journey, not a tool or exercise.
  • Self-reflection’s best friends are self-acceptance and self-compassion
  • You will discover your tools on the way. Start small, practice as much as you can, and enjoy
  • The more your self reflect, the better you become at it
  • To self reflect, you need to practice, not theorize
  • Self-reflection is a never-ending journey. At the point you say ok that is all, you get surprised with your deeper realities
  • Self-reflection is an act of self-care. Most of the time accompany with gratitude or forgiveness.

What about you?

How is your self-reflection journey going? What is your favorite self-reflection exercise? Art does help you to self-reflect? Let me know in the comments.

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Self-Love Board!

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