Reflection vs Introspection
Reflection and Introspection are two words that have created a lot of confusion regarding their meaning and usage. Difference between reflection and introspection is minute and subtle, and the very fact that there are two words for process that relates to looking inwards simply means that they are not synonyms and have to be used according to their context. The misery is compounded with the use of the phrase introspective reflection. To quote Christ, “Judge yourself to avoid being judged”. This was said nearly two thousand years ago but still stands correct. Among many ways of self improvement, introspective reflection seems to be least painful but very productive on road to betterment for any individual.
We all know that reflection is property of metallic substances to throw back whatever light falls upon them. When you look in a mirror, what you see is your image that is bounced back at you after reflection. The way you talk and behave reflects on your education and upbringing. Your perceived image is a reflection of your personality that you throw at others. In English, reflection is a way of looking and analyzing one’s own actions and behaviors. Players reflect upon their performance, governments reflect upon their performance in the past and a student’s marks in an exam are a reflection of his ability to understand a subject.
When contemplating an action, people reflect upon its possible consequences. Thus reflection is a process of weighing pros and cons of an action thus helping people to arrive at a solution that is better in all respects.
Introspection on the other hand refers to analysis of one’s own actions, thoughts and behavior and how it affects others. In a sense, introspection is self evaluation. In a matter of saying people are advised to introspect before accusing others. Soul searching is involved in the process of introspection. Thus we can see that introspection is deeper and more complex than reflection. Introspection is more philosophical in approach as it helps people to rectify their mistakes. For example a person may be a drunkard and may be getting all sorts of advices against his drinking habits. He may not pay heed to all such advice. But only after introspection, where an inner voice tells him about his bad habit and how it is causing harm to him and others we can hope him to try to give up his habit. Introspection is used by individuals, companies, teams and even governments to get an opportunity to look back and do some soul searching.
Reflection is often superficial whereas introspection is deeper and helps us in unraveling underlying causes of our own behavior and also to rectify our mistakes and follies in a much better way.