Reflection Toolkit

Items for self-awareness

Using items to increase your self-awareness

This activity uses a basic form of questioning and may seem slightly strange when first engaging with it. However, it can be extremely beneficial to get a new and different perspective and force you to think differently.

The main principle of using items for self-awareness is choosing an item to represent you or something about you. The ‘items’ you use can include physical objects, characters, films, songs and other things – the main point is that the ‘thing’ needs some defining characteristics.

You can ask yourself many questions for this activity and each can help you learn something different about yourself.


Which items to use

There are two main ways of using items and other resources for reflection.

Choosing from any item in a category Choosing from a selection of items

Choosing to be relatively free in the range of items from which a reflector can choose means that the reflector can find something that works them, but it may seem overwhelming and hard to choose.

This can be questions like:

  • Pick any song…
  • Pick any item…
One characteristic of this type of question is often that you don’t actually need the physical item, but can talk about or describe it.

This can be fun as it will challenge reflectors to be creative with their choices, however some people might find it hard.

The easiest way of making the range of choices smaller is having a set of items in front of the reflector that they must choose from. Another way is to ask the reflector to bring the item with them.

Questions may look like

  • From this set of…
Items you have in your room

Starting questions

Questions tend to follow a pattern like ‘What [prescribed type or source of item] represents [area you want to explore]?

Below are some examples that can be mixed and matched.

Type/source of item to choose from Area you want to explore
Items from your room the way I learn
Songs from your childhood the way I solve problems
Blockbuster films the way I feel
Set of images the way I handle tough times
Colours the progress of a particular project
Tools how I celebrate successes
Things you find in an antique shop the type of friend I am
Cars the way I work in a team
Super heroes how I deal with change


Making sure your answers are reflective

The reflective process comes from thinking about the qualities of the item and your own qualities – you should be able to say why you chose that particular item.

When doing this activity the goal is to be as reflective as possible.

Example Choose a type of car to show how you solve problems
Reflective answer A racing car, because when I get on track I’m very quick and dedicated and I will go as fast as I can until it’s solved. However, just like a racing car, I need a team around me to make sure that everything else (like the engine, or getting food) is functioning such that I can just focus on the problem.
Reflective answer A four-wheel drive jeep, I might not be very fast when solving problems, but I can solve a range of challenges – just like being able to go into all types of terrain. Solutions may not look flashy, but they are dependable.
Non-reflective answer A Ferrari, because I like them and would want one – they are fast.

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