Introspection is when you look inside yourself and consider your thoughts, feelings and life experiences.
It’s actually a sign of a strong minded and capable individual, even though a lot of introspection sometimes leads people to find somebody “moody” or withdrawn.
Here’s why being very introspective is actually a positive thing.
1) Better planning for the future
When you spend time thinking and getting to know yourself, you are able to plan better for the future.
That’s because knowing yourself gives you much more clarity about things like:
- The kind of work you’re good at or not good at
- What you find emotionally fulfilling or upsetting
- Places and situations that bring out your best and your worst
- Emotional patterns that pop up in your own history and interactions with others and what triggers them or leads to them
- Challenges and strengths you’ve experienced in intimate relationships
When you think back about yourself in relation to places you’ve been, people you’ve been with and situations you’ve gone through, you’ll notice threads tying them together.
More often than not, these threads will be consistent personality traits, responses and experiences that you have had throughout various times.
As much as the external shifts and the people in your life shifts, you have qualities that shine through or difficulties that plague you.
Introspection and thinking about yourself and about your life is a way to start unraveling some of the less helpful threads and sewing them into a tapestry that’s more beautiful and rewarding for your future.
2) More self-compassion and understanding
One of the biggest reasons why introspection is a sign of a strong minded individual is that it leads to more self-compassion and self-understanding.
There’s a time to be harder on yourself and a time to have compassion for yourself.
Introspection helps you discern between the two and also shows you how your mistakes are often more understandable and sympathetic than you realized.
It’s not that you’re a victim or that nothing you’ve done is your fault, it’s that you will realize that so many of your missteps came about from a lack of self-knowledge and putting that self-knowledge into action.
In other words, you start to have more understanding and compassion for yourself as you see what made you the way you are and how to become conscious of that and make different decisions.
You will also see how to double down on your beneficial and effective decisions.
3) Increased self-control and self-discipline
As you become more aware of what makes you tick in both helpful and unhelpful ways, you are able to consciously implement more self-control and self-discipline into your life.
These are hard to do in any context, but often the biggest stumbling block to being truly disciplined or in control of yourself is being too vague in knowing why you should be.
When you’ve done a lot of introspection, you realize how the twin disciples of discipline and control have been lacking in many of your past behaviors.
You realize how much more potential you might have than you realize, but how much has been a matter of needing to find more effective ways to unlock it.
This gives you strong motivation to be more disciplined and in control of your impulses and desires, to ensure they are directed towards your goals and purpose.
4) Knowledge of blind spots and weak points
As you engage in introspection and take the time to understand yourself, you also become much more aware of your blind spots and weak points.
For example, maybe you’ve often let others freeload off you or treat you as an emotional punching bag without realizing it. Maybe this is linked to early childhood experiences of not receiving enough validation from your parents.
Alternatively, perhaps you realize that you have a deep need to control others and be “better” than them and that this has often sabotaged your intimate relationships.
Knowing the weak points in your psychology and the challenges you have emotionally is a huge win.
Once you know where you often fall short, you can consciously keep more of your attention on that to ensure it doesn’t keep happening in the future.
5) Stronger grasp of what fulfills you and makes you happy
In addition to getting a better read on your blind spots and weak points, engaging in introspection will give you more insight into what fulfills you.
I know that growing up I automatically believed a lot of what I was told about what would bring me meaning and happiness:
Going to university, making new friends among my peers, going to concerts, being “cool” and generally a “regular guy.”
But that wasn’t me.
It turned out I found those things deeply unsatisfying and actually they made me switch off and self-sabotage myself due to feeling so out of place from the majority culture around me.
It turned out I enjoyed being in countries people had never heard of, reporting in conflict zones, studying from religious groups that others found odd and making friends with people from different walks of life than my own narrow demographic.
But I spent quite a few years lost in a social maze because I didn’t know myself well enough (or respect myself enough) and I didn’t realize there were alternatives to just doing the same thing as everyone else seems to do.
But there are. There always are.
That’s why having a strong grasp of what makes you happy is so vital.
Granted, knowing what makes you happy is only half the puzzle. You do have to take action and put your knowledge into play.
But remember that knowing is half the battle, and introspection and self-honesty will get you to that point of having much more confidence about where you really want to be in life and what you want to be spending your time on.
6) Boosted emotional intelligence for yourself and others
The next of the reasons why introspection is a sign of a strong minded individual is that it boosts your emotional intelligence.
Western and Asian societies place a very high premium on intellectual intelligence, but it’s not the only kind.
Understanding your own emotions and those of others is also a very crucial and important skill and talent that you can develop and hone.
When you engage in introspection you develop a deeper understanding of yourself and others, especially in terms of the foundational emotions that drive people and cause them to act.
Understanding why people do what they do can be like having a superpower to unlock so much of what’s going on around you, including in your own life.
Sometimes people may just be feeling bored, sexually frustrated, unloved, excited, euphoric, drunk or confused.
Or they may be feeling some combination of many emotions and states.
But when you begin to talk to others more and relate their emotions to your own, you start understanding a lot more of what drives people to act in certain ways.
7) Firmer boundaries and guidelines for your goals
The last of the reasons why introspection is a sign of a strong minded individual is that introspection is hard.
It’s easy to just skim over the surface of who you are or label yourself in some simplistic way.
But really taking the time out to sit alone, to journal, to meditate and to think about where your life is going and where it’s gone is a difficult process.
It takes patience, self-honesty and emotional intelligence.
It also often leads to putting firmer boundaries and guidelines on your goals.
As I wrote, you’ll end up seeing how more discipline and self-control has often been the missing ingredients of your past missteps or missed opportunities.
Correspondingly, you’ll often find that introspection causes you to come at your dreams with a bit more structure and guidelines.
You’re no longer just winging it in finding the person of your dreams or building a successful business:
You’re taking the best of yourself, possibly collaborating with others and moving forward with a lot of introspection and consciousness to create fulfillment in your life and help bring it to the lives of others.
If you don’t understand yourself and what’s driving you, it’s very difficult to be effective and fulfilled externally.
Introspection is a difficult process at times, but it’s never wasted time.
When you go inside yourself and look at yourself honestly in the mirror, you’ll find all sorts of patterns and meaning starts emerging.
It can take time, but sooner or later you’ll start feeling what’s really going on inside yourself and what’s linking it all together.
And you’ll get back into the driver’s seat of your own life.
Knowing what makes you tick and having emotional and intellectual understanding of your psychology and past experiences is a super power.
Strong minded individuals are those who have taken the time and energy to do a real self inventory.
They understand themselves and, consequently, they understand a lot more about the world around them and how to be fulfilled by it.