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Self Reflection

What is self-reflection?
Self-reflection is the human capacity to observe and analyze one’s own cognitive, emotional and behavioral processes. It helps to estimate the effectiveness of skills and how they can be improved.

What is self-reflection?
Self-reflection is the human capacity to observe and analyze one’s own cognitive, emotional and behavioral processes. It helps to estimate the effectiveness of skills and how they can be improved.

Reflection is an important part of learning. That goes for any role, be it professional or private. A small example. Suppose one day you make a dish based on an old recipe. The meal fails completely. Next time, you don’t follow the exact same recipe, but adjust it so that the meal will hopefully be a success.

Thinking about your own skills and own actions helps to achieve improvement.

Self reflection meaning

Self-reflection is defined as the mental process used to increase understanding of who you are, what your values are, and why you think, act, and feel the way you do.

This is also called thinking about one’s own being, or metacognition. When people reflect, they are more aware of what motivates them for different things. This helps them develop and grow.

Sample questions for self-reflection

Self-reflection can be used in many situations and contexts. A similarity between these situations is that you ask yourself questions to initiate the reflection process.

In general, we distinguish between three forms of reflection:

  • Reflecting on personal functioning
  • Reflecting on professional conduct
  • Reflecting on individual professional conduct

There are a number of models that help with this, such as the Korthagen reflection circle diagram, the STARR reflection model, Gibbs’ reflection model or David Kolb’s learning styles. Other well-known names when it comes to learning and reflection are John Dewey, Jean Piaget and Kurt Lewin.

Examples of some standard reflection questions are:

  • What are my strengths?
  • What are my weaknesses?
  • How can I use my strengths and weaknesses for my self-development?
  • What core competencies do I possess?
  • What am I less good at?
  • How can I improve my weak points?
  • What problems do I experience at home or at work?
  • How do these problems affect the way I treat others?
  • What have I already achieved? What else do I want to achieve?
  • What things am I not happy with?
  • What things in my life would I like to improve?
  • What makes me happy?

Benefits of self-reflection

It is clear that reflection and self-reflection are at the basis of self-development and self-fulfillment. It brings many advantages.


Research published in Harvard Business Review shows that leaders who engage in self-reflection every day feel more motivated and less exhausted than leaders who don’t.

Happiness at work

Similar research shows that a moment of self-reflection during, for example, travel time, makes you happy and more motivated. In addition, regular self-reflection ensures that people are more productive.

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Self confidence

Regular self-reflection increases the chance of making better decisions. A consequence of making better decisions than before is that people experience more positive results. This in turn makes people feel more capable and confident. This also benefits our self-esteem.

Jean Piaget biography and theory

March 8th, 2023

Jean Piaget (August 9, 1896 – September 16 1980) was a Swiss psychologist who gained fame for developing and publishing a systematic study of the developmental stages of children’s understanding. Jean Piaget is considered the most important figure within developmental…

Kurt Lewin: his biography and theory of change

March 6th, 2023

Kurt Lewin (1890 – 1947) was a German-American psychologist, who is known as one of the modern pioneers of social, organizational and applied psychology. He is recognized as the founder of the first study group dynamics and organizational development. Famous…

John Dewey biography and education theory

March 5th, 2023

John Dewey (October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, professor and educational reformer. The ideas of John Dewey have been very influential in the field of education. He is known as one of the most…

Kolb Reflective Cycle Explained

January 19th, 2023

Kolb Reflective Cycle: this article explains the Kolb Reflective Cycle, further developed by David Kolb, in a practical way. It covers what the model of reflection is and what the four stages of learning and the different learning styles…

Donald Schön biography, quotes and books

November 4th, 2022

Donald Schön (1930-1997) was one of the most influential thinkers who helped develop the theories and case studies of reflective learning within the business services sector. Donald Schön is also famous for his contribution of the development of the single

Borton’s Model of Reflection

September 9th, 2022

Borton’s model of reflection: this article explains Borton’s model of reflection in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful reflection method. What is Borton’s model of reflection? Borton’s model of reflection is a framework…

Gibbs Reflective Cycle by Graham Gibbs

January 28th, 2022

Gibbs Reflective Cycle: this article explains the Gibbs Reflective Cycle by Graham Gibbs in a practical way. After reading it, you understand the core of this management and self-reflection tool. This article contains also a downloadable and editable Gibbs Reflective…
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