Own Today By Learning

My Homework Assignment Helped Me Sit Back & Reflect: Reflecting to Own Our Values

Part of the reason why I have not posted in several days is because school has started up again. This is my last semester until I get my Master of Social Work degree. It’s pretty insane, if you ask me.

Before classes even started, I received an email from one of my professors outlining our first assignment. I groaned, all I saw was that I needed to read a chapter of our textbook and answer a series of questions. I couldn’t believe that I had an assignment already.

The night I received the email, I slowly opened up my laptop and began reading Doing Family Therapy by Robert Taibbi. I was surprised at how easy the text was to read. Then, I looked at the questions I had to answer, the same ones at the end of the chapter. They weren’t typical “critical thinking” questions based on the specific details of a textbook. They were self-reflection questions, shockingly. Please see the questions and my responses in the pink box below!

What is the most important thing in life? (Trust the first thing that comes to your mind.)
The first thing that came to my mind was love, which may be cliche, but I find it true as well. Love fuels people to want to understand one another; once we have understanding, we have communication, and we develop community.
What is the purpose of life? What is the purpose of your life? What can only you give, create, do?
I am Christian, currently Catholic, and I believe that the purpose of life is to fulfill God’s will, whatever that may be. The purpose of my life is still being discovered, but I always felt a pull towards helping others find their strengths. I do not think there is anything unique about me; I do not feel that there is something only I can give, create, or do. That being said, I do think I have the ability to give people comfort in some way, letting them know they are not being judged.
What is the meaning of relationships, of families? What is our responsibility toward others?
The meaning of relationships, of families, is to foster love and reproduce love, connecting to the first question. Our responsibility toward others is to do our best to understand others and treat them morally and ethically.
Why do relationships change? How much can people change? How do we know when change is necessary?
Relationships change because people grow older and various life events can occur (marriage, deaths, birthdays, everything in between) that cause a multitude of reactions that lead to other reactions and so on. Everyone has a different personality; many researchers find that personalities are generally stable over time, but people can have the same personality while making different choices and having (slightly) different reactions to life events. Change is necessary when we predict that it can improve our relationships, facilitate understanding, and strengthen love.
What are the limits of relationships? When should relationships end? What does commitment mean?
The limits of relationships are unique and set by those in the relationships. Relationships never have to end, unless someone is in danger physically, emotionally, or socially. Commitment means when one or more parties are dedicated and loyal to one another.
What is the relationship between doing for yourself and doing for others?
It’s difficult, though not impossible, to do for others, when you are having trouble doing for yourself. When you are able to care for yourself, you are usually able to care for others better.
What does it mean to love someone or something?
To love someone and to love something are different concepts to me. To love someone means that you care for him/her, seek to understand him/her, and desire for him/her to be happy — but that is too simple of a definition, honestly. Love is hard to define, it’s such a strong feeling. To love something means to admire or enjoy an object/thing at a high level.
What should parents most teach their children? What are the limits of the parents’ responsibility, involvement?
Parents should teach their children kindness; ideally, teaching kindness will lead them to becoming more mature, more thoughtful, and more appreciative. The limits of the parents’ responsibilities and involvement will come when the children are at a stage in their lives when they can be more mature and independent.
What is the role of emotions in our lives?
Emotions grant us the ability to empathize and understand one another. Emotions let us know when we are safe, when we are loved, when we did something that hurt another person. Emotions bring us knowledge, even when the emotions can be “disordered,” (overly anxious, overly fearful, guilty when not necessary, etc).
What is the purpose of work?
The purpose of work is to give us purpose. Work allows us to contribute to our community.
How much of our life is controlled by our past?
One’s life is controlled by his/her past as much as he/she lets it to be. Past events will naturally alter the way others’ think of him/her, but people can always choose to let others have a clean slate. The past will always have a little stain on relationships, though. The past always impacts present decisions.

I challenge you to think about these questions, and write a comment answering one or more of them! If you’re not comfortable sharing that, maybe you can share your experience of reflecting on these questions or responding to my answers. Let’s create a conversation.

Reflection can be a powerful tool in knowing ourselves and figuring out what we value in our relationships and lifestyle choices. We can own today by learning about ourselves. We can own today by making choices that reflect what we really believe in.

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