Without getting too technical, I would define introspection as the practice of looking inward—looking at our internal workings as opposed to responding to life from an external locus of control. It can be a very important aspect of our lives if we use it as it’s intended.

Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." If we do not engage in some introspection, we will not be in touch with what truly makes us tick. We will be led almost exclusively by external demands. Many of these external demands are not in alignment with who we want to be. Not being introspective can lead to a very unfulfilling life dedicated by the whims of others and the world.

How can introspection look in our daily lives? A popular way of using introspection is widely used in 12-Step programs in the 4th step: "We made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves." While working this step, the recovering person gets to identify all of the good as well as bad things about their lives. This is used to get the recovering person out of the denial of their own lives. The 10th step says, "We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it." This allows for the possibility of a daily examination of the person's wins as well as areas of improvement. Many popular journal exercises start with some positive affirmations to start your day and a brief examination of your day when you are ready to close that day. All these tools have the potential of adding so much quality and awareness into your inner workings. Should we choose to build on our identified strengths as well as work through our areas of identified improvement, we can have very fulfilling lives.

The benefit of introspection creates insight into who we are and what we truly want. While this may seem scary and daunting for some, for others, it will provide a roadmap to being the best version of yourself you can be.

Overdoing introspection can be paralyzing. Imagine if you take a long time to make a decision because you rely on introspection way too much. Not all decisions need so much thought, as we will either stand still and do nothing or talk ourselves out of something potentially good for us.

These days, anyone can benefit from introspection. However, the folks who could benefit the most are the ones who feel as if their life is not satisfying enough—people who are generally unhappy with their lives. They would do well to take some time and ask themselves what's going on and what they can do about it.

Tags: introspection, psychology, journaling, mental health