True relaxation can be difficult to attain, particularly when we could really use it. Most often, we might find ourselves reaching out to physical relaxation.
We might treat ourselves a tension-relieving massage and some time away from work, hoping that that fixes our problems.
However, even as we make the effort to take care of ourselves physically, it can be even more difficult to relax our minds. Personal reflection is important in our lives for helping us learn from our experiences.
Reflection allows us to attain inner strength, inner peace, and a state of personal contentment. Ultimately, there are no shortcuts for this. It’s a process that only you can do for yourself.
Building inner strength and peace often begins with self-reflection. Self-reflection is the heavy-lifting part of learning to relax your mind.
First, you must consider and address all the things that nag at you when you’re trying to relax.
Clearing the air of these pressures will make it easier to disengage from the unimportant, get in touch with your personal strength, and feel more at peace with your situation.
This is the kind of relaxation that can permeate and alleviate stress throughout your whole life.
Here are a few hand-picked quotations to help you get in touch with yourself, engage in some positive reflection, and gather your inner strength and sense of peace.
“Life can be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards.”
— Soren Kirkegaard
When we reflect on our past, memories, and actions, we are piecing together our life from a backwards-looking perspective. This hindsight can make everything seem to make more sense.
We may also forget some of the reasons and complex feelings that once compelled us to make our decisions. This might mean feeling nostalgic.
Nostalgia causes us to forget how hard something was, as well as some of the negative effects that we might have felt from an even.
People drawn to nostalgia might feel compelled to live in the past, and they might hurt themselves by believing that their past is better and more hopeful than their future.
This can be a damaging perspective. The past might seem sweet, but we have to live our lives looking forward.
And, as much as we can learn from the past, our prospects are all in the present and future.
Whatever self-positivity you may feel in the past, think about your present and find ways of channeling it forward.
“You are a mirror of yourself in others. Whatever you want, give. Be the best reflection of yourself.”
—Karen A. Baquiran
One of the best ways to find peace within yourself is to reflect on who you want to be, and take the steps to act in that way.
It’s easy to say this, but working toward it is a complex and life-long project.
Many people suffer from stress because their actions and behavior do not reflect who they want to be.
Chances are, we alter our behaviors away from who we want to be, in order to react to the way that we perceive others treating us. However, this could create its own negative feedback loop.
Generally, through social modeling, we are always demonstrating with our behavior, how we think people should be treated.
Therefore, if you make an effort to treat others with kindness and respect, they will be more likely to reciprocate that kindness and respect.
“If I speak of myself in different ways, that is because I look at myself in different ways.”
—Michel de Montaigne
When reflecting on our experiences, it can be extremely beneficial to think about them from different perspectives and in different ways.
Montaigne’s prolific Renaissance essays were all about understanding his own experiences through the comparisons and contexts of other writing from philosophy and literature.
We can take this example and use the perspective of others to help us understand what we’re going through. Sometimes we might do this by staging dialogues with ourselves.
Another way to work through other perspectives is to talk to others, confide in them, and listen to their responses.
These alternative perspectives offer a powerful opportunity for you to see aspects of your life through different viewpoints.
“Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife.”
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Even when engaging in self-reflection, we may begin from a place of self-blame or frustration. You might want to kick yourself for the things that you’ve done in the past.
Ultimately, though, this negative attitude won’t help you move on to make better and healthier choices.
The more we dwell on something that we feel guilty about, the more likely we are to blow it out of proportion.
If we let these things become too large in our lives, we are less likely to truly learn something from them that will benefit our future decision-making.
Instead, you need to let some of your personal anger and frustration go.
Breathe through your nose for a few minutes, and then think through the events in a calm and detached way. This will help you understand why you might feel upset or bothered by what happened.
“Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults.”
It’s no secret that the things we dislike or find frustrating in life are things that might be deeply embedded in ourselves.
We might fear these things or feel that we are unequal to dealing with them. In response, we write them off, and dislike seeing them when they appear in others.
How often do you notice that the things that cause you stress and worry are something you fear?
Instead of becoming mindlessly stressed or upset, it might be best to examine your own fears and doubts. This can help you find ways to address these problems rather than dwelling on the stress.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”
It’s too much to ask that we fear nothing. We are not all superheroes who can banish fear on a whim.
However, we can have courage in the face of fear.
Courage is a way of identifying more important things that are at stake when we let fear paralyze us from doing what we need to do.
We might have small fears. These might deal with social and interpersonal events, the stress of publicity and self-disclosure, loneliness and feelings of being ignored, or personal imperfections and failures, to name a few.
Often, the important things in our life wouldn’t get done, if we weren’t willing to face those fears. This inaction could lead to bigger problems, such as poor health, loss of social relationships, and a lack of personal goals or passions in our lives.
We can think of courage as re-prioritizing and learning to face the smaller fears, so that we can move forward with the important things in life.
“Learning without reflection is a waste. Reflection without learning is dangerous.”
For many, learning is one of the most profound and comforting forms of mental relaxation.
Learning can be inherently rewarding. It also offers the kind of stimulation that can stave off feelings of depression.
In addition, learning also helps to increase a personal sense of competence and confidence.
However, learning requires self-reflection, even as we enjoy solving things that were previously unknown or mysterious to us.
We should understand where the information comes from, and we should also reflect on our personal takes on the things that we learned.
If we don’t reflect on our learning to understand our personal context, it’s more likely that we’ll forget those things.
At the same time, if we only ever reflect on the things we already know, we risk turning ourselves into a feedback loop. This means limiting our expansion and potential.
Ultimately, there must be a balance between learning outside of ourselves and reflecting internally.
“Sometimes you have to take a break and breathe before you can keep moving forward.”
The key to relaxation could be just taking a breather. Only you know how much time away you really need or what exactly you need to get away from.
Start with a few deep breaths to clear your mind. You’ll likely feel the immediate release of relaxation.
From that point, you can take stock of what you need to help yourself. Sometimes this is a big change. More often, though, it just means taking a day or two for yourself.
Just remember, taking a breather doesn’t mean running from your problems. Run too far and you will soon be out of breath again.
Instead, take the time to think of solutions that will help you out in the long term.
“Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.”
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The way we act and behave influences everything about our experiences.
If you’re feeling stressed, start by looking at your own behavior. With our behavior, we risk misrepresenting ourselves and even upsetting ourselves.
At times, dissatisfaction could be linked to the way that you feel you have to act. If there’s an incongruity in your behavior or a disconnect between how you’re acting and how you want to act and be represented, it’s probably time to reflect.
Consider what is upsetting you about your behavior, as well as how you want to be perceived. When you act in a way that matches what you want and who you are, you will most likely feel a sense of ease.
“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”
Sometimes, there’s no way to understand what’s going on with other people. You might have a hard time comprehending why they might be doing something or acting in some way.
Interpersonal relationships like this can be stressful, particularly when we’re not comfortable enough with the other person to ask them what’s going on.
One of the biggest difficulties, particularly when we’re in positions of being responsible or helping others, is to remain aware that we can’t control them.
This is an important thing to keep in mind, even if we do believe we have the best way to help this other person.
One way to relieve some tension in our lives is to come to terms with the fact that we can’t control other people.
Once we do that, we can find more positive ways of helping them that doesn’t involve the stress of trying to control something that we can’t.
“No matter what kind of challenges or difficulties or painful situations you go through in your life, we all have something deep within us that we can reach down and find the inner strength to get through them.”
As we move through life, there are a lot of difficulties that we will have to face. Some have known causes, and others are outside of our control.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do to weather a difficult situation is to draw on your inner strength to maintain a sense of calm and inner peace as the difficulties abound.
One way to find your inner strength is through personal reflection.
Begin by remembering all the times you have been strong in the past. Then, keep in mind the things you care about: your loved ones, your passions and goals, and the things that you hope to protect.
“Go within every day and find the inner strength so that the world will not blow your candle out.”
We are steadied by our inner strength. It helps us relax and maintain calm during difficult times. It also helps us bring peace to others.
And while it’s a powerful experience to find your inner peace and strength, this kind of reflection and introspection needs consistent maintenance.
This could be a routine meditation practice. You might have go-to breathing exercises for when you’re stressed. Journaling can also help you maintain the kind of personal reflection that helps you keep inner peace every day.
Losing touch with your own inner life could mean falling apart during difficult times, allowing yourself to be led astray or to function in a way that doesn’t agree with you.
“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”
—Wayne W. Dyer
It’s important to know what we want out of our lives, so that we can set our goals and priorities accordingly.
However, we can start to feel discontented when there is a large gap between our expectations and our perceived reality.
In this case, there could be nothing wrong with the reality, except that this doesn’t meet the, at times, unrealistic or unreasonable expectations that we set for ourselves.
Gratitude and learning to appreciate the life you have will help you rebalance yourself and appreciate what you have.
As you work toward goals, focus on having reasonable expectations that take into account a learning curve. Some things take time, and we have to let ourselves grow, rather than measuring ourselves up to a version of us that’s further down the line.
“The more peace we have within our own lives, the more we can reflect into the outer world.”
Ultimately, when you are at peace with yourself, you radiate that calm. It can help you achieve goals, as well as help others and your loved ones.
Maintaining inner peace may take work, but the effort to bring that peace out into the world could feel effortless and infinitely rewarding.
Radiating your positivity and strength to those around you is one way of giving back without any cost to you.
“Peace is a day-to-day problem, the product of a multitude of events and judgments. Peace is not an ‘is,’ it is a ‘becoming.’”
We have some days that are better than others, and the problems that we face aren’t always in our control.
As nice as it might be to talk about, we can’t always afford the relaxation getaways that we feel we need. We might be pressed by time restraints, financial restrictions, or responsibilities that hold us in place.
Inner peace and relaxation don’t state that we achieve once and can experience forever.
While we can train ourselves in how to gain this sense of peace through reflection and meditation, this doesn’t mean that we stay in those states.
Instead, it means that we know how to draw on them and reach them when we need to.
We are always on a journey to understand ourselves, attain inner peace, and find ways to bring that clarity and gratitude into the world around us.
This makes reflection a daily effort, and something we must work toward consistently.
These quotations and thoughts on reflection can be used in many ways, as you learn your best way to think about and reflect on your own life.
You can meditate on the quotations while observing some quiet time for inner peace and relaxation. Or, you can journal about them, learning to express your reflections the way many of these writers and philosophers have.
It’s also important not to discount the opportunity to reflect during other activities. Consider reflecting during exercise, creative activities, such as art or music, or during physical or manual labor that allows your mind to wander.