Introspection - Definition and Meaning With Examples
Introspection (or internal perception) is the self-examination of one's conscious thoughts and feelings. In psychology, the process of introspection relies exclusively on the purposeful and rational self-observation of one's mental state; however, introspection is sometimes referenced in a spiritual context as the examination of one's soul. Introspection is closely related to the philosophical concept of human self-reflection, and is contrasted with external observation. Introspection has generally provided a privileged insight by providing access to our own mental states. The philosopher Plato is thought to have referenced introspection when he asked, "Why should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are?" [Source: Wikipedia]
How does man look at himself? He is always the best and the most perfect person in his own judgment. Of course there may be a few exceptions to this like you and I. At least we realize that we are not perfect human beings. Man does not stop to realize that just as he accuses others around him of follies that have made his life miserable, he is likely to be mentioned or talked about in the same way by those others.
I introspect a lot which has helped me with a great deal of change in my attitude in the last few years. Well, I used to brood over things a lot before, keep complaining, within myself of course, about the inadequacies of the people around me. As if I were a perfect person. This is the case with every one of us, I am sure. And this is the reason why we undergo a great deal of suffering in life, holding others responsible for our problems without looking at our own follies.
If only we were to stop for a minute before brooding and complaining and try to figure out where we went wrong instead of finding fault with the others involved, there would be a quick solution to the problems we are facing. From my own personal experience, I am saying this. Now that I am not cribbing anymore about the shortcomings of others but hold myself responsible for all my problems, I have found peace within myself. Always remember that when you point one accusing finger at the others blaming them for your misery, three fingers are pointing towards you.
Who is to blame?
Whatever be my problem, only I am to be blamed.How do I change the situation instead of waiting for the others to take the initiative in finding a solution?
Even if someone has wronged you, do not take it too personally and wait to take revenge. Instead, try to think why s/he had done it to you and try to react differently to the situation. See what happens. You’ll be surprised. There would have been something unacceptable in your action that could have irked that person. But we never realize it. Every human thinks this way: "What I do is always right" and never for a moment will they think that they could have said or done something wrong that had led to such a nasty situation.
When you do realize that to err is human and that you also could have done something unacceptable, it becomes clear that everyone else is also likely to do such things. Here I am not talking about crimes but the little misunderstandings that are so common in the day-to-day life of every human being. When someone irritates you, stop in your tracks for a little while. In that short gap you’ll understand that if you react, things will become worse. Try the opposite instead. Try to be nice to the person and make them understand. Two things are likely to happen in this situation. They are either going to bully you more or they’ll feel ashamed of their act. If they bully you, just leave the scene. If they regret, comfort them. This way, the worst of your enemies can be subdued-with love.
Talking of responsibilities in life, I recall a story that I once heard during my meditation course.
Once, a man (A) was waiting at a railway station for the train. He saw another man (B) walking along the railway platform carrying a big parcel. A saw that there was a banana peel on the ground but did not care to either remove it or warn B about it despite knowing that B might fall as he obviously could not look down due to the weight he was carrying. B slipped over the peel and fell down.
Now who is responsible for the fall? You might say “of course B”. But A was indirectly responsible for B’s fall but he thought he wasn’t. If only A had made a little effort to remove the peel to the trash bin or at least warned B of the impending danger, things would have been different. This is how all of us think in every situation. We tend to think “It is none of my business, I would have been more careful in his situation”. We shirk our responsibilities - even the direct ones - resulting in a lot of confusion and chaos.
If only we were a little considerate and took the initiative to help others in need, there would be much less people falling down literally. We need not go out of the way to help others but do what is possible within our capacity.
Help people in need
So, when the opportunity arises, we should use it to help others not to impress anyone but to our heart’s satisfaction without trying to defend ourselves that we are not bound to do it. Of course there are no rules binding you but it is out of sheer courtesy and as a humanitarian gesture that we help others.
Do not expect return favors
More than anything else, do not expect anything in return for any favor you do to others. This is applicable to any situation irrespective of whether you volunteer to help or respond to someone’s appeal for help. The first thing the elders in the family tell us is “for all the trouble you took to help her out when she was in trouble, she should have helped you out now when you really can do with some support”. When you hear such a statement you get influenced and feel that it is true. I too used to but not anymore. I try to explain to people who try to influence me saying that if it was possible she would surely have helped me.
This thought is helping me find a quick solution to any problem I seem to have, with the result that I find life enjoyable. I find happiness and peace in life, making my family also happy. Accusing others may give you temporary relief but you will feel guilt and remorse as time passes by. You’ll end up desperate due to stress and over reaction. Try being easy on others and you’ll enjoy immense peace and joy. I have experienced this, so am confidently saying so.
Introspection-Why is it important?
How do you introspect?
Start introspecting please!
I really wish many people would start doing this exercise of introspection and benefit from it. It changes your life for the better. I used to talk about such things only to my family and close friends who were sure to understand. The reason was obviously my fear of ridicule. Not anymore. This is why I decided to share my thoughts through this hub. A section of people may even ridicule me for saying such things. But I care less for their ignorance. I would love to help people in trouble without expecting anything from them in return. I think such a help is the best form of help you can give someone. I firmly believe that it is the best form of prayer too.
The society on the whole will certainly change for the better if each and every one of us decided to contribute towards its development within our own capacity. This can be done by improving our mindset and our attitude towards the society as a whole.