Introspection Training Wheels

Introspection is the process of identifying what you feel and why you feel it. A simple way to introspect is to look up your feelings in a table, then work backwards to identify what the underlying values are. This process is useful for understanding upsetting incidents, but it can be used to explore enjoyable ones, too. Both kinds of feelings warrant deeper understanding.

For this exercise, pick a recent incident which generated strong emotions that you still feel today. Some suggestions:

  • A situation in which you did not want to do what you thought you should do, and you still feel badly about it.
  • A difficult conversation that is on your mind.
  • Any upsetting incident from the last week that could distract you from work.
  • A positive situation that you find yourself daydreaming about.


1) Situation: Briefly describe what happened.

2) What do I feel? Read through the tables of common positive and negative emotions, and mental-emotional-physical states, and circle every feeling you have.

3) Which are the main families of feeling? On a separate piece of paper, list the 3-4 most significant feelings you had, along with the general meaning of the feeling (listed at the top of the column in the table).

4) Why do I feel it? For each family of feeling/emotion, ask why you feel that way. Use Complaining or Thinking on Paper to get clearer. You can also refer to the table of Deep Rational Values. These are listed in the OFNR Quick Reference Sheet.

5) Optional: Challenge all the thoughts from steps 1 & 4.

  • Is that literally true?
  • Does that really follow?

6) Sum up: What did you learn? How do you feel now? What is the Deep Rational Value at stake?


The tables of common positive and negative emotions, and mental-emotional-physical states can be found here.

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Next Class

Three Ways Self-Direction Contributes to Happiness
Tuesday, October 11, 2022
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Eastern, plus 15 minute Q&A

Self-Direction Theory and Practice #10 will include:
– How to be happy about the past, present, and future.
– Healing damage from earned and unearned guilt.
– How self-direction immediately improves your quality of life.

Please bring an example to class of the last time you needed to course correct on a project, in part because it took too long, e.g.
– you were tempted to pressure yourself to “just do it”
– you were floundering
– you could not get into the “flow”


Thinking Lab members receive call-in information for these classes.  Click here to join the Thinking Lab.

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