Reflection Toolkit

In conversation with self

Some people might find it easier to think reflections through in their heads or while thinking out loud.

Reflection can feel like getting lost in your own thoughts – it just has to be conscious or purposeful


Most of us are familiar with getting lost in thoughts and for instance thinking through an event in our mind, looking at things we liked, did not like, want to do again, and what we want to happen differently in the future. This is very close to reflection, but it might not actually be reflection.

When getting lost in thought, it is often the case that we are not actually aware that we are doing it – and often we are not thinking about what our conclusion means and we fail to put them in context or we forget. Therefore to ensure that the experience of getting lost in thoughts definitely transforms into reflection you need to be conscious about when you want to do/are doing it, and do it purposefully. Think of it as a debrief of the event or the problem you are mulling over with the purpose of not just thinking about or solving it, but also with the intent to learn and generalise from it.

Typical ways of reflecting in conversation with yourself


Type Comment
Thinking by yourself/out loud
  • Thinking purposely and consciously about something (for example an event, critical experience, theory we are trying to put into context) is one of the easiest ways of reflecting
  • Ensure you are aware of when you do it, for example you might choose to do it on your way to the shop. You might realise while shopping that you were thinking about an event while walking there, but that won’t necessarily make the thinking you did on the way to the shop reflection.
  • Some people might find it helpful to talk out loud as this automatically makes it more conscious and purposeful (if someone else is around – you can wear a headset and they will likely think you are on the phone!)

Sometimes you might want to formalise your private reflections by capturing them, such that you can revisit them or present them to others. Revisiting allows you to create more in-depth reflections by taking a bird’s-eye view on the situation and respond with different ideas and conclusions than at the original time.

It can be valuable to record yourself and use the recording as a basis for a written reflection. If you want to you can get feedback on your reflections, or if you are ever required to provide you reflections for others, for example in a course, your recording might be a possible way to hand it in. If a submission is required by a course or other initiative, make sure that you are aware of what the requirements are and follow those, both in terms of content and structure.


Type Comment
  • You might find that filming yourself while reflecting out loud might work well for you
  • This can be done for personal use, or as a vlog.
  • If it is done with the purpose of publishing it, or is required of you, be aware of the appropriateness of your reflection and the audience - someone else is seeing it, hence think carefully about what you put in it. You should never feel forced to share something you are not comfortable with, and similarly you should not share something that is too personal for the person seeing it – just because they have asked you to reflect does not mean they want your deepest, darkest secrets.
Audio recording/podcast

Similar to filming yourself – you might prefer to record yourself talking through your reflections:

  • Allows you to revisit your thoughts later.
  • Might be faster than writing it down and does not require pen and paper or computer, only your phone and a headset.
  • It can be done while walking (you can wear a headset and people will likely think you are on the phone)
This an easy way of capturing a reflection immediately after an experience happens.

Back to ‘Ways of reflecting’