Thinking vs. Reflecting

The Thinker Learns to ReflectRecently I was listening to Caroline Myss’ radio show. She brought up the distinction between thinking and reflecting which I find to be extremely beneficial to putting words to what can often be a difficult to understand concept. How often do we say “I’ll think on that” or “I need to think about it and make a decision”? Pretty often. What I find in myself and my clients is that often we find ourselves thinking when what we really need to do is spend time reflecting. So, what is the difference?

In her June 28, 2008 newsletter, she talks about “The Healing Power of Reflection”:

A mystic, then, is one who has experienced the power of Truth, as Truth is one of the disguises of God. But Truth, like the mystical revelation of unconditional Love, is not something that the mind can grasp. You cannot comprehend the meaning or the power of unconditional Love as an expression of the Divine by thinking about that. Here’s where we begin to examine the split in the road between the fundamental nature of thinking, which is a mental art that engages reason and logic, and the more interior skill of reflection, which draws you away from reason and logic and directs your attention toward transcendent pursuits. Unconditional Love is a mystical force, not a logical or reasonable one. Therefore, to say that one comprehends the meaning, the power, the size, the significance, or the magnitude that unconditional Love offers for the transformation of humanity, is preposterous.

While Caroline is talking about deep, mystical matters in her newsletter the distinction between thinking and reflection is extremely important to segment for a moment. While I love her work and it stretches me every time, I often find myself intimidated by its depth. Sometimes I struggle with how to apply it in everyday life, being a practical kind of gal. That is why I want to talk a little about thinking vs. reflecting as it relates to comfortable in your own skin coaching.

In my words thinking is about the mind. It is about reason, figuring it out, and engaging the rational, ego-centric mind to attempt to make sense of something. You know how you might look at a challenge or decision point in your life and try to fit it into little boxes and logical decisions? That is all about thinking. And, thinking can be great. Without it we might get caught floating around in something more esoteric all the time. However, it can also be very limiting. Especially if we find ourselves faced with a key decision or stymied by a challenge. Thinking can only take us so far and sometimes it is the biggest factor holding us back.

Reflecting on the other hand is an inside job. It is about letting your heart and soul speak. It requires letting go of the rational mind (including a bunch of “shoulds”), going into your interior life, and listening. This is where things can get scary because sometimes what we hear flies in the face of what our rational mind thinks. Sometimes the messages we hear go beyond what we can comprehend. Yet, if we truly listen sometimes these very messages we cannot begin to understand with our mind are the very guideposts we must act upon if we are to move toward fulfilling our biggest dreams, our true life purpose.

If all that sounds like too much to bite off and chew at once, start small. Simply start to listen with an attitude of discernment and reflect upon life’s big questions rather than trying to figure it out and mastermind your life. The idea of plotting out and controlling your life is ludicrous anyway, so let go a bit and allow yourself to tap into the messages from your heart and from a higher power.

The way you truly get to know if you’re on the right path with your life is never through your mind or thinking. It is through your heart — it is an experience and a feeling. An inner knowing not based on reason or rational thought. So, if you’re looking for affirmation at a thinking level – you’re tuned to the wrong channel! Instead, spend some time quietly going into your inner world, listen and reflect.

Photo Credit: Henkster

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