Rumination versus Reflection
“I don’t like the word reflection’’
This comment was recently made in one of our Discovery in Action closing workshops. We had just posed the group the question: What had you learned about the practice of reflection? This led to a fascinating conversation about the nature of reflection. For some people they had an image in their minds of something soft, unfocused, meditative or meandering in nature. It was just a word that some people felt was not purposeful enough.
Well I have a different take on what reflection means...
Of course, in general language it is not unusual for the word reflection to be used to describe someone pondering and musing over something without reaching any conclusions of note. Someone is simply being reflective. However I believe there is a real discipline to the practice of reflection that is not always well understood.
Many use reflection as a synonym for rumination. I believe it is useful to understand the critical differences between the notions that these words – rumination and reflection – are attempting to describe. In fact, at some level, they are polar opposites of each other. We all engage in rumination on a regular basis – that is where we allow our thoughts to swirl around in our brain, having the same thought multiple times with numerous variations, thinking about a series of what ifs, wondering about people’s motivations. It can go on for hours or even days…we all know the feeling, we have all had this experience. You might have had a run-in with someone; you’ve made a stuff-up or think you might have; or something just didn’t turn out as planned. It’s not always negative – it can be a great success or win where you happily indulge in private thoughts about your greatness or possibilities of future success – although my guess is that most rumination energy is put into the bad stuff.
We get stuck in superficial exploration, never progressing our thinking and action...
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