I turned around And I saw my reflection

“Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills”
Fleetwood mac, landslide

The quote is taken from this song.


I like reflections, in water or windows; I love the way light plays a part in what is reflected back. At one time I became obsessed with reflections; almost as if the reflection was more enticing than the real object. I began to think about the fact that the reflection is like a mysterious world that we can peer into that draws us further in.

“Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and you’re just a reflection of him?”

Bill Watterson

I think that reflecting on our circumstances, whether they be actions, behavior, problems, dreams, conversations, happiness, is a bit like looking into the water and seeing the upside down image. Our perspective has changed and it forces us to ask what is going on in this world we are viewing. We also need the light to shine into these circumstances if we want to find the truth about ourselves.

Someone told me the other day that reflecting is a bit like breathing: in the action of breathing there is an ‘in’ and an ‘out’ and a ‘pause’ before taking the next new breath. We often rush from one activity to the next without pause; I think of that being more like hyperventilating or panting. It’s called rushing. It is important to give time to pause and reflect. It reminds me of a poem that my doctor referred me to. In her poem, Autobiography in Five Short Chapters, Portia Nelson describes a situation we metaphorically face. I think it is reflection that helps us change.

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in… it’s a habit… but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

Why we reflect.

I think Portia’s poem shows why it is important to reflect and also that it doesn’t change our behaviour the first time we reflect but as we continue to reflect on our actions we can choose to change.

“Just as a snake sheds its skin, we must shed our past over and over again.”

― Gautama Buddha.

Often we need to first be made aware, and then be on the lookout, and then want to change and eventually we choose new habits. Reflection is not just about change it is also about appreciating what we do and what we are given in life; in other words it is also about enhancing the positives in life.

Looking at reflections brings me a certain calm and peace to my mind and soul and it is true about reflecting on one’s life too. It might uncover some disconcerting things about you in the short term and make you feel uncomfortable but in the long run it aids our well-being and peace of mind. We can learn from our reflections. We grow and become better people; we even heal in many ways. It can prevent us from falling into the same hole over and over again. We even make better choices. And as I said it can help us to appreciate our goodness more too.

How do we reflect?

I am sure we all have our own methods of reflecting but I am going to share some ideas from my personal habit of reflection. When I was a teenager I used to brood and I thought I was being quite profound but actually brooding doesn’t get you very far; it might help you acknowledge the pain and suffering you are going through but often there isn’t much change. There often isn’t much of a way out when brooding, and like many teenagers I suffered quite a bit from depression although my mother told me I was just feeling sorry for myself which only made me feel worse.

This brooding unfortunately went on until I was in my thirties and it was only then when my doctor showed me this poem that I realized that I had a way out of my unhappiness’s. I was living in my dark pain, allowing myself to feel the feeling without using my mind to ask logical questions. I realized that the relevant questions could give me answers and propel me forward.

There are many different questions but here are three situations: one about a conversation and another about a dream and the last about actions taken. Often the right question pops into my head as I start reflecting but sometimes it is useful to see different examples.

  • Conversations:
    Why were certain things said?
    What was the mood that both parties were it?
    What circumstances could have triggered the reaction?
    Were the things said true, partially true or false?
    Were they accurate, encouraging, said with a loving attitude?
    Are the words congruent with my values?
    Is what I said supportive of the person; even if it was positive criticism?
    Was it respectful?
    Does a value or attitude have to change?
    Can we find a middle ground?
    How would I make that change?
    Do I feel unheard and if so how can I communicate my thoughts more clearly? When would a better time have been to communicate?
    Do I feel wounded?
    Is something triggered in me that feels like a wound?
    These questions can go on and on depending on the situation. It is important to look at each other’s perspective just as if both of you were looking into the mirror or pond – you would have a slightly different perspective and view. Sometimes we don’t realize how slight the difference is in perspective but it can cause incorrect suppositions.
  • Dreams:
    What was the feeling in the dream?
    What was the feeling when I awoke?
    How did the dream affect me?
    Were there metaphoric images or language used in the dream?
    What does the dream say about me or my life?
    How can I learn from it?
    Have I discovered something new about myself?
    Does something in the dream make me feel uncomfortable?
    Are there triggered memories?
    Obviously there is a lot that one could ponder about dreams; a topic too big for this post.
  • Actions:
    How did the action affect me?
    Is there a feeling of loss, sadness, anger, shame or guilt?
    If so, is it true or is it triggering something falsely in me?
    Does the action amplify, enhance, refine, or diminish and detract?
    Do you need clearer boundaries?
    What was discovered?
  • Other questions to think about:
    Is there a gain or a loss in my life?
    What do I appreciate in my life?
    Things to be grateful for?

Journaling and drawing.

What I like doing is writing about my reflections in my journal so that I can go back to it in the future. That way I can reflect on my reflections and see if I have changed and grown, or if I am falling into the same hole over and over again. I sometimes write in shorthand or symbols, sometimes it is lengthy epistles and other times I draw drawings because I have found a ‘picture is worth a thousand words’. At a glance I can remember an important dream without having to sift through the words. I use coloured tabs that I stick into my journal so that I can easily find my poems, dreams, reflections and notes again.

Finding the answers

Sometimes there are no questions coming up for me. That will be my first question to myself then – why are there no questions? maybe I don’t feel like thinking about it; maybe I am not ready to think about it – but maybe I find the answer to why I don’t want to think about it and write about that.

I want to say something about the way I find answers for myself when reflecting about things because sometimes the questions can cause distressing feelings and especially when I feel like I don’t have an answer; I can feel frustrated and upset with myself. What I have learnt is that it is better to let the answer come to you during the day or next week or so because sometimes we don’t have the answer straight away. I think that sometimes we might ask the right question but not be ready to hear / see the answer. I have the attitude that there are more questions than answers and that it doesn’t matter if I don’t get the answer immediately or ever so long as I am being curious and asking the questions.  So long as I am willing to learn and grow.

The reason why I am telling you about reflection is because that was the process I used when grappling to survive cancer and when I wrote about my journey with cancer. It is also the process I am using right now for processing my blogging experience and also facing the covid 19 virus, but more about that another time.

I hope that you are encouraged or inspired to reflect on something in your life too.

Take care and enjoy life.

11 thoughts on “I turned around And I saw my reflection

  1. Pingback: LIEBSTER AWARD | Morag Noffke

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