Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Critical Reflection for an Authentic Life

If there is one thing that can help individuals to live an authentic life, it is to reflect critically and rationally. And this is useful in all areas of our lives.
Over the next few weeks, I will be blogging about the different areas of our lives and how critical reflection is key to making us more self-actualized and knowledgeable individuals. I will argue that without reflection, each individual is reduced to whatever the media, society and other individuals want him/her to believe.
In other words, without reflection, an individual cannot make an informed and autonomous decision about any aspect of their lives. We simply become pones that people can manipulate and win over. However, if we want our lives to be much more than just a series of unreflective actions, we must learn how to be critical reflectors.
Before we could become critical reflectors in our lives, we must know our deeply held beliefs, desires, values, and long and short-term goals. These constitute our personality and character. And unless we are unhappy with aspects of our character and personality, we must accept our beliefs and desires as features that define our deeply held self.
Of course, many reflective individuals find that after they have determined what their beliefs and values are by perhaps writing them down that there are inconsistencies between their belief sets and their values. If such inconsistencies exist, then the particular individual may want to revise them in favour of beliefs and values that can define us accurately.
For myself, I discovered that I had a few contradictions between my need for organization and rationality and my religious views. I went through a period of revising my religious beliefs about a decade or so ago. I now have a much more coherent set of religious beliefs that don't conflict with my attitude of critical reflection. I now believe in much more humanitarian theological beliefs that I did before to accommodate this critical reflective stance.
The best way to achieve this is to sit down and write down about your beliefs and if they all cohere to create an authentic body of beliefs. Ideally, an authentic body of beliefs don't contradict each other; however, when I did this exercise with my students, I discovered that most of them had inconsistencies among their beliefs. Then they chose which ones to revdesires. Also include your values and what you believe in strongly. Then look over your beliefs and see ise and then found that they lived with much more integrity and they were much less likely to be manipulated to act in ways that they didn't believe to be conductive to being a reflective and consistent individual.

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