What Introspection Isn’t

It’s easy to pass hours daydreaming and assuming that you did something useful although you still remain in the previous emotional state, feeling wasted.

Introspection – or simply studying and understanding feelings to simplify life and gain more clarity – has its benefits.

But it can turn out to be a spiraling instance of overthinking for many, serving no use.

What must be the objective of introspection?

While I’m no expert at this, I’m expressing how I feel about this topic based on how I apply it in my life, since this one practice has played a lasting role in my well-being.  

Ideally, your goal while introspecting must be to dissect your feelings, realize what’s hurting you and unconsciously affecting you, so that you can prepare yourself to face it and move on in life.

To make it clear first:

  • Self-loathing doesn’t mean introspecting
  • Revising past, longing for something isn’t introspecting
  • Overthinking doesn’t mean introspecting
  • Fantasizing about an ideal life doesn’t mean introspecting

Then what is?

While the above ways are directed toward self-analysis, too, they’re different than introspection.

Those emotions certainly help present a clearer picture of your mental state but don’t leave you with a conclusive feeling of accomplishment or peace.

Introspection, concisely

Introspection means dismantling your feelings with more of an objective purpose like finding what hurts or discovering what you have been avoiding and then facing it.

So, you’re not there to brood, to consume yourself, or to take a brief dip in your regrets or past and return – you’re seeking the clarity that will hopefully make it easier for you to carry on with your life.

And that brings us to the more important question

“How do you introspect?”

You must create your own ways and find whatever works for you. You can be as creative as possible to be brutally honest with yourself and pour emotions that you otherwise wouldn’t admit.

As for me, I often ask a series of questions followed by more questions. I can start with “why do I feel restless,” “what’s causing these emotions,” and so on, until I finally delve into the underlying causes – which can be my insecurities, or perhaps something I’ve been delaying.

I sometimes imagine myself surrendering to God and visualize him (I imagine Vishnu) asking me questions about my well-being and I respond as honestly as possible.

This may appear weird if you’re new to this but it’s a useful way that helps in most scenarios in life. For instance, Richard Rumelt visualized himself sitting with a virtual panel of experts that he carried around in his mind.

What else can you try?

Here are some ways:

  • Ask a series of why questions one after other
  • Try self-reflection with questions like these and these
  • Imagine yourself as somebody else and then answer
  • Pour your feelings on paper and then write the answers
  • Write down the actions that you’re going to take

So, what’s the takeaway from all this?


You can spend hours lamenting in bed and you might even feel better when you’re done – but then you’d still find yourself in the same muck of confusion next time.

So, what do you do the avoid this circle of suffering and hopefully resolve your inner conflicts? Realize your feelings authentically without interfering with logic, document them, and understand them.

Finally, decide the actionable conclusion that you’re settling with and note it, remember it so that you don’t need to start at square one the next time.

You’d know that you’ve been there earlier – and you’ve known it well enough.