Once upon a time, some people were known to accuse me of being ‘too analytical.’
“Lighten up!” they would say. Or “You think too much – must you analyze everything?”
At those times I took the comments to heart, thinking those people knew more than I did, or perhaps there was something wrong with me. I often thought there must be something about life and living, and how to find joy in it, that they knew but I didn’t.
It wasn’t until many years later that I’ve realized there is something those people didn’t understand. I have always been a reflective person. To be reflective means to think deeply about something – isn’t that the same as analytical? Being that kind of person I looked them up:
:to study (something) closely and carefully : to learn the nature and relationship of the parts of (something) by a close and careful examination
:to think deeply or carefully about.
Yeah, I think they are very much the same. For me, it is essential that I reflect often about the world I live in. Perhaps there are people in the world who go through life either 1. never making mistakes and therefore no reflection or analysis is needed to figure out how to not make the mistake again, or 2. go through life just being, with little change over the years.
I am not one of those people. I make mistakes – a lot of them – and I am interested in not repeating the same mistakes again and again. I find that reflection and analysis helps with that. I can think about events, subsequent actions, outcomes of the actions, and generally whether the outcome served me well or not. If not, then I am going to reflect on other actions I could have taken, or perhaps whether or not an action was even called for. I like doing that. Life is filled with possibilities and I find myself asking ‘what if?’ quite a lot.
With all those possibilities I become curious and want to know more, be more, do more. Reflection helps me with that. To look inward and think deeply about where I’ve been, where I want to go, the choices I have to get me there, and the outcomes of each is the blueprint for life.
Reflection also helps me solve problems. When in a quandary about what to do I can look critically, reflect on what I know to be true – what I have control over – what I know or don’t know about the situation, and usually I find the answer. I’m not sure I could improve the person I am without that gift of reflection.
Today I know that my ability to study myself carefully, and to think about the world around me are skills that bring much joy into my life and have helped me become the person that I am. So, my reply to those critics of the past is “Yes, I must analyze everything! That is how I understand myself and my world and it’s working for me.”
Trust in what you know serves you well in life and let go of others perceptions of you. It can be a very freeing thing.