Are We a Reflective People?

My background is in education, working in schools for 35 years. Over that time many things change, with politics, educational theories, and new societal trends. Change has happened and is happening, but those things are still agents of change in our current education scene.

One of the things that became popular in recent past is the concept of “Reflective Practice”. Which means in the simplest of terms for us to examine how, what, and why we do what we do. After some consideration I think that this is a good practice both professionally and personally. It is a useful process. It has been said by both Socrates and Plato that “an unexamined life is not worth living” but is that true? I think there are many people who go through life without being particularly reflective and are perfectly happy.

However, I work with some amazing and wonderful men who are recovering from an addiction to pornography, who have had to develop a reflective process to allow them to be able to journey forward. This for them is a necessary but not an easy process to examine their lives, their attitudes, and their activities. When I look at the resulting change and the subsequent quality of their life and may I say their faith, I am convinced that there is certainly something in this that the average guy could consider.

Most of reflection is built loosely around questions that we look at to help provide a framework for our thought processes. It may examine at our habits, our actions, and our beliefs. It may also look at our family life, work life and even our spiritual life. Many of our habits are often unexamined. For instance, there is a story in our family about this older woman who would get a roast out of the oven, immediately take it across to the bench and drop it on the bench. A granddaughter finally wondered why and eventually built up the courage to ask her why? Her grandmother didn’t really know why it was, just because her mother did it that way. At the end of the investigation, it turned out that her mother didn’t have oven mitts and the oven pan was burning her hands, so she dropped her roast on the bench as quickly as possible. The daughter had assumed that was the way you deal with a roast and followed suit even though she had oven mitts. So, a tradition or habit was set.

I wonder for how many of our beliefs and habits that we have acquired, we have no real understanding how we got here. Have we have watched someone or heard someone but never really examined and evaluated the process or belief. So, I would encourage you to begin to wonder a little at times about the how and why you do things.

There are often occasions in my life where I get a nudge from God and life to ask a few questions like these: Why did I do that? How did I get here? Why do I believe that about myself, someone else, about a situation or even God? Start small and build, it will feel weird the first time, but it gets easier!

Paul Monahan