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Introspection - Definition and Meaning With Examples



Introspection (or internal perception) is the self-examination of one's conscious thoughts and feelings. In psychology, the process of introspection relies exclusively on the purposeful and rational self-observation of one's mental state; however, introspection is sometimes referenced in a spiritual context as the examination of one's soul. Introspection is closely related to the philosophical concept of human self-reflection, and is contrasted with external observation. Introspection has generally provided a privileged insight by providing access to our own mental states. The philosopher Plato is thought to have referenced introspection when he asked, "Why should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are?" [Source: Wikipedia]

Self judgment

How does man look at himself? He is always the best and the most perfect person in his own judgment. Of course there may be a few exceptions to this like you and I. At least we realize that we are not perfect human beings. Man does not stop to realize that just as he accuses others around him of follies that have made his life miserable, he is likely to be mentioned or talked about in the same way by those others.

I introspect a lot which has helped me with a great deal of change in my attitude in the last few years. Well, I used to brood over things a lot before, keep complaining, within myself of course, about the inadequacies of the people around me. As if I were a perfect person. This is the case with every one of us, I am sure. And this is the reason why we undergo a great deal of suffering in life, holding others responsible for our problems without looking at our own follies.

If only we were to stop for a minute before brooding and complaining and try to figure out where we went wrong instead of finding fault with the others involved, there would be a quick solution to the problems we are facing. From my own personal experience, I am saying this. Now that I am not cribbing anymore about the shortcomings of others but hold myself responsible for all my problems, I have found peace within myself. Always remember that when you point one accusing finger at the others blaming them for your misery, three fingers are pointing towards you.


Who is to blame?

Whatever be my problem, only I am to be blamed.How do I change the situation instead of waiting for the others to take the initiative in finding a solution?

Even if someone has wronged you, do not take it too personally and wait to take revenge. Instead, try to think why s/he had done it to you and try to react differently to the situation. See what happens. You’ll be surprised. There would have been something unacceptable in your action that could have irked that person. But we never realize it. Every human thinks this way: "What I do is always right" and never for a moment will they think that they could have said or done something wrong that had led to such a nasty situation.

When you do realize that to err is human and that you also could have done something unacceptable, it becomes clear that everyone else is also likely to do such things. Here I am not talking about crimes but the little misunderstandings that are so common in the day-to-day life of every human being. When someone irritates you, stop in your tracks for a little while. In that short gap you’ll understand that if you react, things will become worse. Try the opposite instead. Try to be nice to the person and make them understand. Two things are likely to happen in this situation. They are either going to bully you more or they’ll feel ashamed of their act. If they bully you, just leave the scene. If they regret, comfort them. This way, the worst of your enemies can be subdued-with love.


Talking of responsibilities in life, I recall a story that I once heard during my meditation course.

Once, a man (A) was waiting at a railway station for the train. He saw another man (B) walking along the railway platform carrying a big parcel. A saw that there was a banana peel on the ground but did not care to either remove it or warn B about it despite knowing that B might fall as he obviously could not look down due to the weight he was carrying. B slipped over the peel and fell down.

Now who is responsible for the fall? You might say “of course B”. But A was indirectly responsible for B’s fall but he thought he wasn’t. If only A had made a little effort to remove the peel to the trash bin or at least warned B of the impending danger, things would have been different. This is how all of us think in every situation. We tend to think “It is none of my business, I would have been more careful in his situation”. We shirk our responsibilities - even the direct ones - resulting in a lot of confusion and chaos.

If only we were a little considerate and took the initiative to help others in need, there would be much less people falling down literally. We need not go out of the way to help others but do what is possible within our capacity.

Help people in need

So, when the opportunity arises, we should use it to help others not to impress anyone but to our heart’s satisfaction without trying to defend ourselves that we are not bound to do it. Of course there are no rules binding you but it is out of sheer courtesy and as a humanitarian gesture that we help others.

Do not expect return favors

More than anything else, do not expect anything in return for any favor you do to others. This is applicable to any situation irrespective of whether you volunteer to help or respond to someone’s appeal for help. The first thing the elders in the family tell us is “for all the trouble you took to help her out when she was in trouble, she should have helped you out now when you really can do with some support”. When you hear such a statement you get influenced and feel that it is true. I too used to but not anymore. I try to explain to people who try to influence me saying that if it was possible she would surely have helped me.

This thought is helping me find a quick solution to any problem I seem to have, with the result that I find life enjoyable. I find happiness and peace in life, making my family also happy. Accusing others may give you temporary relief but you will feel guilt and remorse as time passes by. You’ll end up desperate due to stress and over reaction. Try being easy on others and you’ll enjoy immense peace and joy. I have experienced this, so am confidently saying so.

Introspection-Why is it important?

Start introspecting please!

I really wish many people would start doing this exercise of introspection and benefit from it. It changes your life for the better. I used to talk about such things only to my family and close friends who were sure to understand. The reason was obviously my fear of ridicule. Not anymore. This is why I decided to share my thoughts through this hub. A section of people may even ridicule me for saying such things. But I care less for their ignorance. I would love to help people in trouble without expecting anything from them in return. I think such a help is the best form of help you can give someone. I firmly believe that it is the best form of prayer too.

The society on the whole will certainly change for the better if each and every one of us decided to contribute towards its development within our own capacity. This can be done by improving our mindset and our attitude towards the society as a whole.


Rema T V (author) from Chennai, India on October 08, 2012:

Thank you very much Denise for taking the time to visit and comment on this hub. Very glad to hear that you practice introspection. Thanks for all your votes and the share too.

Cheers, Rema.

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on October 08, 2012:

What a wonderful hub, Rema. I enjoyed reading about your philosophy, examples here and practice. I also felt the poll was an addition to help prompt people to be introspective. I use introspection as part of my spiritual practice of soul development. Thanks for sharing your wisdom here. Rated up/and across except funny. I'll be happy to share this one.

Shampa Sadhya from NEW DELHI, INDIA on October 07, 2012:

Voted up and useful!

An extremely wise hub. This article conveys a great message for a peaceful and contented life. I completely hold your words very true.

I do analyse a lot but sometimes I fail to come to the correct conclusion. I think I need to practice it more as well as control my temper. When after introspection I find myself right and the other side deliberately tries to pull me down makes me very angry. I know I must ignore such people but that's a tough task for me. Thus, I believe in introspection and I practice it too but understanding the result at every point makes me little uncomfortable. Sharing it!

Angie Jardine from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on October 07, 2012:

I think the old adage of ‘Know thyself’ is another way of putting it, Rema.

Once you can clearly see your own nature you are much less likely to be scornful or hurtful of others.

But thinking about yourself can be a double edged sword if you are not honest about your own shortcomings. Being brutally honest about our motivations is perhaps the real trick here.

Interesting and thought-provoking hub! Voted up.

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on October 07, 2012:

Rema, I think most of us live lives now at a million miles an hour with pressures like work , family, money etc. Everything gets jumbled in our heads and finding time for introspection disappears in this vacuum. I recently gave up work and have found that I have more patience, am happier and certainly have more time for introspection - at first I used to feel anxious a lot because I kept wondering if I had done the right thing but introspection clears my head now and I think things through a lot more than I used to, before I had the time.

Rema T V (author) from Chennai, India on October 05, 2012:

I am so touched by your beautiful views on this subject Yogini. The first time I read your hub, I knew we had some similarities. Very true that children should be taught to meditate at a very young age to nurture better thoughts and deeds.

Why not? Let's try our best to change this world Yogini. I am so happy there are some lovely people like you on HP. I am blessed. Love, peace and hugs, Rema.

yoginijoy from Mid-Atlantic, USA on October 05, 2012:

Dearest Rema,

You know, when I was reading this, I felt like I was having a conversation with myself! We are so alike you and I! It is true that meditating has helped me a great deal to be considerate of others, even when it is a trying situation--as you know.

I agree with you that introspection is definitely one of the answers to our personal problems as well as our societal ones. I would like to see meditation taught to children at a very young age. They would know how to cope with difficulties in such a healthier way than acting out with violence!

Excellent hub! Let's make a pact you and I to change the world, eh? I think we could make an impact!

Big hub hug for you too! :)

Rema T V (author) from Chennai, India on September 23, 2012:

Thanks Terrye for stopping by and for your kind words of appreciation. Thanks for your votes and share too. Cheers, Rema.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on September 23, 2012:

Remaniki, this is a very eye opening and insightful hub. Nicely done. Voted up and shared.

Rema T V (author) from Chennai, India on September 23, 2012:

Thank you very much Maria for your lovely comment. It is really an honor to be connected to like minded, beautiful people like you, thanks to HP. Thanks for the votes too. Cheers, Rema.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on September 22, 2012:

Dear Rema,

I found this essay to be very well penned, filled with wisdom and a beautiful life philosophy. I love how you are being a role model to your children and I truly feel change is possible, one person at a time.

Your inner harmony and beauty radiates and is most inspiring.

Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

Rema T V (author) from Chennai, India on September 19, 2012:

Hi healthylife2,

Very kind of you to contribute to the topic by your healthy comment. Yes, a healthy balance is very essential as you say. Thanks for the visit and the vote. Cheers, Rema.

healthylife2 on September 19, 2012:

Great hub and I wish everyone would take the time to introspect. I have always done it and maybe went too far with it resulting in me questioning myself too much but a healthy balance is necessary. Where I live it seems people do favors solely for the purpose of getting a return favor although I understand some of that is important when you don't have family in the area and have kids. I agree that seeking revenge or getting frustrated when others are rude is really a waste of energy and not the best approach. I just need to convince my husband of that. Voted up!

Rema T V (author) from Chennai, India on September 15, 2012:

Very true Nell. The number of people who are self centred has increased these days as you say. But there are people like you and I who think otherwise. But what can a handful of people do? Of course we can try and change the minds of a few others by discussing on such public platforms like Hub Pages.

Let's only hope that at least a few people realise that we ought to change for the better and there is something more to one's life than just living for one's own sake.

Thank you very much Nell for your views. Cheers, Nell.

Nell Rose from England on September 15, 2012:

Hi Rema, our society these days has become so self centred that its got really frightening, I remember reading in the newspaper a while ago that a little boy of eleven fell over and fainted on a train station, the commuters on their way to work just stepped over him and ignored him! what was that about? when did this happen? wonderful hub rema, cheers nell

Rema T V (author) from Chennai, India on September 15, 2012:

Very true Vinaya. Thanks for the visit and the kind words. Cheers, Rema.

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on September 15, 2012:

We need to introspect ourselves before we pass a judgment.

Thanks for this wonderful life lesson.

Rema T V (author) from Chennai, India on September 14, 2012:

Oh thanks so much Michelle for the comment. I really wish that all of us are able to develop positive thoughts in our life and benefit from it. Cheers, Rema.

Michelle Liew from Singapore on September 14, 2012:

We really need to introspect and reflect as you put so well, Rema. Thanks for the great share, and blessings to all of us to change our lives for the positive.

poornimasrinath from Midrand, Johannesburg, RSA on September 14, 2012:

A good reflection on "interospection". I am sure a great churning process has taken place within your self and the thoughts have really come out like cream.

I would categorize your last four topics under "Selfless love" We can get such love only from God. When we learn to show such selflessness we ourselves will become God. I am sure many people in this world are trying to achieve this value.

Regarding Self judgement..judgement is when we analyse what others do is right or wrong, good or bad

Discrimination would be the alternate word for self judgement. By discriminating we analyse what WE do is right or wrong, good or bad to US.

Agree completely with who is to blame. When you say we are responsible for whatever we encounter I am reminded of my Swami's words "Reflection Reaction and Resound" In any situation 90% is how we react to that. But is extremely difficult to practice as most people only wait for others to make mistakes so that they can put them on spot forgetting they could be on the same spot any day.

Responsibility in one word is the right conduct. I am reminded of a story where A and B were in a hospital room. A was near a window and B was on another end next to a wall. A used to describe everyday what was happening on the other side during the period he would sit. B develops jealous for he could not see what was happening on the other end. One day when A becomes serious with breathing problem at midnight he tries hard to press the assistance alert next to his bed but fails. B who was aware of A's state didnot press his alert button to help A survive. He witnesses A dying helplessly. Next day when he moves to the bed closer to the window realizes there was only wall on the other side and realizes his mistake. There are many reasons why we behave irresponsibly and is definitely not justifiable.

I would slightly vary in what you have written about Interospection on spiritual context, it is examination of mind and not athma as athma is always right and unsullied as it is nothing but God.

I really wonder how well you have put your thoughts on this aspect of interospection. This post very well reflects the normal thought process of a human being and you have clearly shown how we can choose to be different.

Rema T V (author) from Chennai, India on September 13, 2012:

Hi Janine,

Your mother has brought you up so well teaching you the right values. Fully agree with your views Janine. To my knowledge you are near-perfect, so meticulous in everything as I see you so active on HP while taking care of two little children.

You exude a lot of positive energy by your encouraging comments and great support to fellow hubbers.

Thank you Janine for your kindness. Much appreciated. God Bless you. Cheers, Rema.

Rema T V (author) from Chennai, India on September 13, 2012:

Hi Rajan,

Thanks very much for all the support you give me by visiting, commenting and sharing. Glad you liked the subject. Cheers, Rema.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on September 13, 2012:

Rema, an excellent hub and very much agree that we need to be less self centered and more thinking of how we indeed can change things in our lives for the positive. In my youth my mother always told me to live my life thinking that the glass is indeed half full, not empty. Also, I was taught to treat others they way I would want to be treated. So between the two ideas this is how I try to live my life. Not that I am perfect, believe me I am far from it, but I think trying to do these things are truly half the battle. Nicely done and have voted, shared and tweeted as always too!!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 13, 2012:

Excellent hub Rema. We all need to introspect on a daily basis our actions for the day and whether we have been of use to atleast one person that day.

I also appreciate your thoughts on giving gifts.

Voted up, useful and interesting.

Sharing it.

Rema T V (author) from Chennai, India on September 13, 2012:

Fully agreed with your viewpoint Richard. But I want to make a difference in the society by setting an example (just as you rightly mentioned) to my own children so that they will bring up their children in the same manner. That is the best we can do to this society.

So parents should also strive to influence their children more than the other external factors do. Let's hope that at least thousands if not millions of parents are able to do this so as to maintain a healthy society.

Thank you very much for the useful input that has added to the value of this hub and for the votes. Cheers, Rema.

Rich from Kentucky on September 12, 2012:

Rema -

Unfortunately, our society tends to be more self centered than courteous. We are seeing the "Me" generation in full force, and most of us don't like what we see. Part of this is because of the lack of proper parenting and environmental conditioning, and part because of the instant gratification of technology. The teeter totter should balance, but it doesn't. All we can do is our best to set the example and hope that someone recognizes it and makes an attempt to mimic. Great Hub! Up & Interesting!

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