In a previous post I discussed the life review process when it occurs during a near-death experience or when a person is dying. While millions of people have reported near-death experiences (NDE’s), not everyone has the privilege of having this experience. If we wait till we are dying, we may find that we are overwhelmed with regrets, rather than experiencing the joy of having created positive ripple effects in our life, especially in our latter years.
It is possible to undertake a life review at any point in our life and to benefit ourselves and others we interact with as a result. The life review process, even self-initiated, can be a forbidding task. People find that early in life (especially as teenagers) we tend to be more reckless and less sensitive to the needs of others. Jeff Janssen, in his video podcast interview with Kirsty Salisbury offers two questions which may be too daunting as a starting point:
- Which events/situations would you look forward to seeing and feeling again?
- Which events/situations do you dread seeing and feeling again?
We can build towards a situation where the events/situations we look forward to re-visiting (in all their visual and emotional elements) dominate our life review towards the end of our life. This can be achieved by beginning on the path to a complete life review – taken in your own time and own way.
Chunking to manage the life review task
You might adopt a process of chunking up the life review task – breaking it into manageable chunks. Shelly Tygielski, in her online course on the Power of Showing Up, decided to focus on self-care in her life review after receiving a diagnosis which indicated that she would go blind without radical medical treatment – which subsequently failed. She adopted the process of chunking up the self-care life review by looking at the different spheres in her life, e.g. work, home, social and community. Community was included because she believes strongly that self-care is ultimately for enabling one to participate in a unique way in community care. The result of such a review could be a comprehensive self-care plan that serves our needs and, at the same, time contribute to the wellbeing of others that we interact with daily.
Using role reversal to access others’ perspectives.
Jeff also adopts another approach to a life review by using a role reversal process. He suggests for example, that if he was in his son’s place, how would he view his father?; or if he was in his wife’s place, how would she view him as a spouse? We can ask similar questions in relation to our colleagues, family members or clients/customers. This can be enlightening in terms of the ripple effect of our words, omissions and actions and can identify ways to ensure that we are choosing to create positive rather than negative ripples.
Life purpose review
Consistently we are told that pursuing a life purpose beyond ourself adds meaning to our lives and is foundational to achieving happiness, joy and self-fulfilment. In a life review, we can explore how we are pursuing a life purpose that engages us in community care. We can ask ourselves two basic questions:
- What is my unique combination of experience (including trauma), skills, knowledge and abilities?
- How can I better use these to advance community care in my immediate environment and/or the wider community?
If we answer these questions honestly and pursue the insights gained we can begin to generate more positive ripple effects in the lives of others (and our own life).
Questions from lessons learned through near-death experiences
In the summary of his book, 10 Life-Changing Lessons from Heaven (based on reported NDE’s), Jeff provides a series of questions around each chapter that addressing a separate lesson or recommended way of living our life. Even without reading the book, you can use the questions as a form of life review (of course, if you read the book, you will gain so much more meaning, insight and “how to” information). You could for example explore these sample questions or others provided by Jeff:
- How have your fears held you back and limited you?;
- Where in your life do you need to summon the courage to jump?
- Can you think of any situations where the Ripple Effect of your actions have had a negative effect on others? What was this effect and how far did the ripple effect extend?
- Which individuals or groups might you not fully understand or accept?
There are many approaches we can use to begin on the path to a life review. Undertaking a life review is a massive task and can be managed through chunking up the task by choosing a manageable focus and starting point (e.g. self-care plan, role reversal reflection, life purpose review, or specific lessons from NDE’s or from death and dying).
We can engage in self-pity and get lost in the adversity caused by our past words and/or actions, or offer ourselves self-compassion and forgiveness and move forward with a life review process that engenders a commitment to creating positive ripples in our life and that of others in the community.
As we engage in mindfulness practices, we can grow in mindfulness in every aspect of our daily life, gain self-awareness and insight into our impact on others and have the courage to change for the better.
By Ron Passfield – Copyright (Creative Commons license, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives)
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