Introspection – Definition, Psychology, And Applications


Had one of those days where you have just sat back and thought about what is happening in your life? Have you tried to figure out what is going wrong and tried to understand where all this is coming from?

If yes, then you have engaged in self-introspection briefly.

What is introspection? Introspection is a way of looking inward, a practice by which you look within yourself and draw indirect inferences while avoiding the notion of absolute self-knowledge, or rapid conclusions. Introspection is a way to gain some insight and perspective on one’s own thoughts and feelings.

Who gave this term? Introspection

The term is often used casually to refer to a method of discovering one’s inner life, however, it is a term which refers to a formalised process that was once used in psychology as an experimental technique by Wilhelm Wundt. Wundt and other specialists relied on this approach during the late 1800s to grasp the mind’s level of consciousness. As during particular experiences in time, Wundt had a special interest in knowing what a person thinks, feels and perceives.

Does it still work?
Yes, Absolutely!

Psychology specialists, time and gain, help people connect emotionally to events from their past using introspection strategies. The process simply looks at how feelings and memories are interpreted by the mind to help an individual understand their meanings. It offers another look at how, through a precise, organised process, people are influenced by things around them.

It is a process that allows one to unearth their deep-seated ideals, understand how they can be used and learn to master them through professional help. Research reveals that it helps individuals to make better life choices that contribute to satisfaction and a sense of purpose. When this technique is practised and incorporated, including when faced with confusion, ensure that one can remain on track to achieve personal goals. This has also shown to contribute to better relationships with others at home and work while improving mental health. Some see this as a way to reveal inner strength and power as well.

Is it really helpful or is it just reflecting on the past?

Introspection and reflection are interconnected, introspection takes long and in a deeper self-reflection. It allows people to be sensitive to their beliefs and attitude in any given situation. The process can be exhausting and overwhelming for some as it requires excessive amounts of thinking and unraveling deep-seated emotions, for them, it might not be helpful. However, those who look to understand the concern and develop insight, it can be a helpful process.

There are many empirically proven benefits of introspection, to state a few; it increases self-knowledge and awareness; it reduces negative thinking and motivates people towards positive change and; it helps establish links between one’s experiences and reactions.

How can I introspect?

The best way to practice introspection would be in a therapeutic setup, however,

  • Practising mindfulness and being aware of one’s thoughts and feelings in a situation
  • Taking out time at a comfortable spot to indulge in introspection
  • Being aware of how your thoughts and feelings are influenced – trying to understand reasons for their source such as many thoughts can be a byproduct of the society we are raised in at its traditions
  • According to The British Journal of Psychology, one must be attuned to their needs and view mental states to be tangible, which can be moulded according to one’s needs.
  • Questioning one’s negative thoughts and thought patterns to understand their origin and to break them down in order to have better clarity about the experience and redirect oneself.

It is important to remember that the starting point for learning what one can do and why certain things have a greater impact on oneself than others is to ask questions about oneself.

Am I an introspective person?

You could be one if you find yourself:

  • Being self-aware
  • Developing an understanding of why you participate in some acts and focus on your mental processes.
  • Delving into subconscious thoughts and physiological responses in a situation
  • You feel like you are ‘meditating on your behaviour’ i.e, having increased awareness of yourself and your actions in any context.

Introspection and Psychology? How are they connected?

Introspection psychology, introspection is a way of getting a peek inside your mind, which can be explored in-depth in therapy or counselling. Therapeutic space allows the client to speak about their experiences and emotions and the therapist can ask appropriate questions which would make the client reflect on their feelings and their connection to their behaviour. Analyzing one’s emotion in a vacuum can often get difficult, therefore, therapy is an unbiased place that allows you to objectively look at your subjective experiences. Counsellors can facilitate the process to develop insights, identify patterns of behaviour which are unhealthy and understand the way your actions are connected to your thoughts and emotions (mind-body connect).

Introspection is a fine-tuned combination of consciousness and cognition that increases an individual’s ability to be present at the moment and be aware of their thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

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