Self-Reflection For Self-Improvement

Posted on June 15th, 2013

According to Lewin’s and Kolb’s adult learning theory, you can use self-reflection to improve your thoughts and behaviours in four steps.1 For learning to be effective, it needs to move through all four stages of the cycle:

  • Experience
  • Observation - observe on their experiences
  • Reflection - develop new understandings of your problems
  • Planning - synthesise new possibilities and ways forward

Experience; Observation

Question: How did I feel?

Answer: Pretty anxious: I was scared.

Q: And what was running through my mind?

A: I thought that I would embarrass myself – look like a fool.

Q: So what did I do?

A: I told my boss that I couldn’t do the presentation because I would be on   annual leave – I then booked in annual leave.

Q: So I got out of doing the presentation: how did that leave me feeling and what was going through my mind then?

A: After the initial relief, I felt even worse. I still hadn’t faced my anxiety of public speaking and now I had the fear that my boss would realise that I’d lied to her.

Q: It seems that I felt scared and I thought that I would embarrass my-self; so I avoided what frightened I but soon regretted it.


A: Well, yes.

Q: So, what might I learn from this?

A: I suppose it’s obvious really: if I get scared, I should face up to my fears. Running away is only making me feel worse about myself and I think that it makes me more anxious.


Q: Facing up to my fears … do I have any thoughts on how I might go about doing that?

  1. Westbrook, D. E., Kennerley, H., & Kirk, J. (2011). An introduction to cognitive behaviour therapy: skills and applications (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE. 

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