Refining Your Rituals of Reflection (& shedding shame)

Jan 7, 2016 | Simplicity

Despite it’s timeless relevancy, as I sit to write this it is the start of a new year, the dark moon (the few days prior to a new moon), and, to cap it off , it is also Mercury Retrograde. Which makes it a truly pertinent time to reflect as a means to forge forward in life… more fearlessly.

At the passing of the new year, I almost felt bombarded with all the posts around gratitude, reflection, revision, goal setting, and planning. It left me feeling obligated to marinate my brain in a pondering of my past, or otherwise a fierce planning of my future. Instead, I chose (mostly) to prise myself out of the pressure and do my best to savour the present (I suspect perhaps it’s my revived meditation practice that enabled this awareness).

Rituals of reflection are timeless and therefore always relevant. Yet they’re notably influential at the turn of a year, prior to a new moon, or in the depths of Mercury Retrograde (where here I find myself within a triple whammy).

If you feel called to sit with yourself, with stillness, with silence, then grab a pen and paper (or bookmark this page for later), and lets get crackin’. Allow me to share with you my go-to, fail-proof rituals of reflection. They will help you refine and redesign your internal state, and as a result your external world will align ever so elegantly.

Lets dive in.

Write down three achievements / successes / celebrations from the past year:

(You could do the past 1, 3, or 6 months if you do this exercise regularly)

*Note – go all out. There is no room for modesty here!


  1. Quit my job (and started my dream job?)
  2. Travelled around Europe (and came home without debt?)
  3.  Apologised to someone for something I did
  1. Finished my masters degree (with distinction?)
  2. Earned ‘x’ amount of money (doing what I love?)
  3. Mastered a handstand for 15 seconds

The Holy Trinity + Honest Action

(This is my paraphrased guidance, which I originally discovered through Regena Thomashauer):

  1. Write down your biggest brag! It could be something awesome from the list above, but this is the time you need to whip that ego out, fully celebrate your amazing self, and write down one truly legendary thing that you have done/created. Do NOT shy away from this. Do not make it about other people (eg. I helped so-and-so do such-and-such). No, it’s all about YOU.
  2. Write down one thing you feel immense, utmost gratitude for. It could be a person, job, your health, a relationship, a conversation, a book, a revelation, a vacation… the sky is the limit! Generally it’s going to be the first thing that comes to mind. However – notice if you’re feeling obligated to respond (often with ‘family/husband/kids’ etc). What is it that you’re so grateful for, that it could bring you to tears even?
  3. Write down one thing in the depths of your heart that you desire. That one thing you’re potentially too scared to share with anybody else, maybe you’re too scared to even admit it to yourself? That big, hairy, scary desire. Dream big. Listen to your heart. You deserve it.

– Your most potent excuse:

Here you need to write down the one thing that is stopping you from realising that big one desire you have. Nothing externally that is stopping you, but how you might be getting in your own way (Note – relevant to this is a book called The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks. Highly recommended). How are you hiding in your comfort zone? What do you keep telling yourself that inhibits you in moving forward?

Often some good ways to move forward are:

Make a public declaration. Tell your partner, best friend, or even your Facebook feed. Being held accountable makes us more likely to stride forward.

Break down the big desire into small actionable steps. Is your desire 10 years away? What needs to happen in 3 years to ensure you’re on track? Then, what needs to happen in 12 months time to meet your 3 year vision?

Now is the time to be completely open and honest with yourself, so that you can leap through the barricades you’ve been building.

– One thing you can do this week to move forward

Assess and reflect upon your most potent excuse. Now, determine ONE action step you will implement over the next week (or 24 hours!) to move you one small step forward towards to your desire.

Shedding Shame Release:

To no longer be burdened by our past, which creates our habits, reactions, and limitations, we must release all the tension we’ve accumulated through stress. To renew yourself and forge forward, write down all the situations in life that you feel deep-seated shame around. This is not a quick and easy process. Take a moment to close your eyes, focus on your breath, and then when you feel relaxed and open start to cast your mind back into the near and distant past to all the various conversations and situations that you hold shame around. This could manifest as embarrassment or denial also. Write down those things you may not even be willing to admit to anyone else in your whole life, ever.

Consider any time in the past you’ve broken someone’s trust, you’ve hurt someone (emotionally and/or physically), you’ve lied/kept a secret, have been unfaithful, stole something precious/of value, said something terrible to someone you care about, treated someone poorly in any way, been caught out doing something that you’re embarrassed about, etc…

Once you’ve written down the key experiences you’re holding onto with shame, this might be as far as you’re able or willing to go. If you feel, in your heart, ready to release these burdening feelings and memories, then I encourage you to fearlessly take action. Create amends with yourself and with others. Write a letter or email and share your shame. Have a conversation about it with someone. You could go to a person who was directly involved. Or, you can release shame by merely sharing your feelings and memories with someone whom you trust and who you know supports you wholeheartedly. You could share with your teacher, your mentor, a partner, parent, or dear friend. If you can go direct to that person involved in your shame scenario/s and you feel it would be also beneficial for them (this is KEY), then even with fear in your belly go ahead and reach out to them. Commit to peeling of those heavy layers of regret.

There you have it. May you refine your rituals of reflection (and release), to further redesign your internal state. Receive the deep healing. Shed your skin. Open your heart. This is important work. Be the light.

If you found this framework inspiring and useful, I would be so grateful if you would share it with others. The more of us doing this kind of work on ourselves the more we can uplift each other.

I would love to hear your insights too. Go ahead and leave a comment below – perhaps you could share your Brag (celebrate!), Gratitude, and Desire if you fancy a public declaration. I’ll certainly be here cheering you on!

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