What is that secret “something” that great partners do? Reflection.
This means they think about their day, their interactions, their parenting, how loving they have been, and any number of other relevant topics. In doing this reflection, they are able to learn from their experiences, both successes and failures, and then adjust, based on what they just learned.
Every day we have hundreds of experiences, most of which are pushed aside as we rush to the next thing on our “to do” lists. These aren’t necessarily large, momentous experiences. It could be a phone call, an interaction with a stranger, a conversation with your spouse, a social engagement, a dinner prepared, a child comforted, or nearly anything else. If, instead of rushing to the next experience, we pause momentarily to reflect, we have opened an opportunity.
In the moments of reflection, ask yourself these questions:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go the way I wanted it to?
- What did I learn?
- What will I do differently next time?
Recently, I was driving to work on the freeway and got a flat tire.
However, I didn’t know the tire was flat so I kept driving (wondering why my car was making strange noises). Soon, a young woman pulled up next to me (we were both driving at about 30 MPH in heavy traffic) and motioned something that I didn’t understand. She continued to stay beside me until I got my window down and she told me I had a flat. I couldn’t stop right away but I finally was able to pull off the freeway onto the shoulder. As I was calling AAA to see when they could come to my aid, a man pulled off the freeway, backed his car up to mine and offered to change my tire. This generous man set to work changing my tire, which he did expertly and with grace.
Here’s what I learned from reflecting on that experience:
What went well? Two strangers went significantly out of their way to help me.
What didn’t go the way I wanted it to? Flat tire.
What did I learn? There are some caring, generous people in the world who take seriously the idea of helping your neighbors and kindness to strangers.
Also, there is GOOD news, not just the awful news we hear about much of the time. I felt so grateful to these two people that I am actually not at all sorry that I had a flat (though the tire was destroyed).
What will I do differently next time? When I see someone needing help I will do my best to be that kind stranger. (Also, I will know that strange noise is a flat tire!)
Taking the time to ask and answer these questions requires attention and intention. Take a few moments to stay present to yourself, thinking about these questions. In doing so, you learn from what you do daily, increasing your wisdom and the connection to yourself and, ultimately, to your spouse. (It is crucial to make the distinction between self-criticism and self-awareness. I’m not advocating being critical of yourself. Instead, it’s our distinctly human gift that we can be self-aware and learn from our experiences.)
One more important aspect of reflection is that it enables us to be self-sustaining. We are able to look within ourselves for continual self-assessment and improvement. Whereas feedback from others is a gift that we get once in awhile, feedback from ourselves is available continually. Try it!
What reactions do you have to these ideas?
Do you reflect on your life regularly?
If so, how does it impact you? What changes have you made as a result?
Comment below and and let’s get the conversation going!