A Guide to Self-Reflection
From Course 201 Chapter 1, Holiness of God: Habits to Form.
Self-reflection is one of the habits we need to form as a way to locate ourselves accurately against the backdrop of God’s holiness.
But a Christian is a man who has seen himself and seen what he has done. He has seen his transgression, his iniquity, his sin. He realizes the meaning of his actions. He realizes he has sinned against God; and he has seen that his actual nature is itself sinful. I would call that “the sinner awakening,” facing himself and realizing the initial truths about himself. 
– Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, Out of the Depths (emphasis added)
As soon as we are alone, …inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distraction, we often find that our inner distraction manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. …
This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important. 
– Henri Nouwen, Making All Things New
Self-reflection should be a written record of a period of disciplined thinking about some incident, or even a passing moment, that seems significant.
Some Tips to Help Observe and Reflect Upon the Self
Step #1 – LIST THE FACTS
Go through facts utilizing the 5W’s – Who, What, When, Where, Why
This is where you want to review what happened with as much accuracy as possible. You can list out basic facts of the situation in chronological order. Focusing on facts halts rationalizing and self-justifying emotions. For example, rather than saying, “I felt like he was attacking me with his words so I responded in this way,” just state the objective facts: “I yelled at my roommate.”
Step #2 – EXPLORE
Based on some facts, you can begin to explore some questions to help you think, such as:
- Why did I say that? Why did I do that?
- What was I feeling when I did that?
- What was going through my mind?
- What were some events leading up to this incident?
Step #3 – ASK, WHAT DOES THIS REVEAL ABOUT ME?
After reviewing the facts and exploring why you reacted or felt as you did, now you can ask yourself the question, “What does this reveal about me?” Here are some questions that might be helpful:
- What does this show about what drives me?
- What does this show about what’s going on inside of me?
- What does this show about my view towards…(others, God, myself)?
- What does this reveal about what is important to me?
Don’t use a lot of jargon and try not to be overly dramatic in language. For example, “I feel like I don’t deserve the cross of Jesus!” Try to use plain speech as much as possible.
Step #4 – WORD OF GOD
- What about the gospel addresses me at this point?
- What is true and real according to God’s word?
- How does the word of God bring reproof and correction (2 Timothy 3:16) to you regarding this situation?
Often, people either go into a downward spiral of self-flagellation, or they might be satisfied with merely identifying what they did wrong and end there. If you don’t go through this step, you can leave God entirely out of your struggle. Sometimes in people’s reflections and repentance, they commit to never doing something again in a very self-driven way, without going through the full process of seeing themselves and their own sinfulness in light of who God is. They end up missing out on God’s grace and his forgiveness pronounced through his words.
Truth may hurt, but it is always best to face the truth. God’s word will be relevant and powerful when there is proper admission of and discovery of truth. By default, we have layers of self-deception, denial, rationalization, justification, etc. Writing self-reflections can slice through all of that and help you get to the truth of who you are. And of course what we want is the truth about ourselves! It’s something many people do not have, nor treasure.
Above all, be honest. God wants to dialogue with us.
Isaiah 1:18 (ESV)
18Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
Ultimately God wants to dialogue in truth so that we can be healed and so we can be as white as snow.
There is freedom when you know you have properly acknowledged, repented of and fully processed the junk inside. There is self-knowledge and, with it, a growing appreciation of the holy love and grace of God.
Let me ask a simple question at this point: “Have you faced yourself?” Forget everybody else. Hold up a mirror before yourself, look back across your life, look at the things you have thought and done and said, look at the kind of life you are living…The first call to man by God is to be honest, to stop arguing and to face himself. Let him examine himself…There is no hope for a man who does not do that, and the truth about the modern world is that people are running away from just this…[doing] anything to fill up their lives and keep them from thinking. I say that you have to fight for your life and you have to fight for your soul. The world will do everything to prevent you facing yourself. My dear friend, let me appeal to you. Look at yourself. Forget everybody and everything else. It is the first step in the knowledge of God and in the experience of His glorious salvation. 
– Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Out of the Depths (emphasis added)
 Lloyd-Jones, David Martin. Out of the Depths: Restoring Fellowship with God. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books. 1995. p.49.
 Nouwen, Henri. Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life. New York, New York: HarperSanFrancisco. 1981. pp. 70-71.
 Lloyd-Jones, David Martin. Out of the Depths: Restoring Fellowship with God. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books. 1995. pp.24-25.