The Benefits of Self-Reflection and Pragmatic Thinking for Personal Growth

11 December 2023
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Most people spend years of their lives worrying about things they have no control over.

They know that its pointless and serves no purpose, still they do it.

William James, the founder of pragmatism, defined it like this:

“Great many assume they are thinking,” he wrote, “when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”

Constructive thinking can really be broken down into two types:

The active pursuit of problem-solving, and knowledge acquisition.

So unless you’re thinking about how to solve a problem you’re having, or absorbing new information that improves your lifestyle, relationships, or skills, you’re pissing away your time.

Your brain is a survival mechanism, not a computer.

Its function is not to make you happy, but to keep you safe and alive.

When your brain perceives a threat – which, sadly, happens frequently, its instinctive response often leads to costly errors, affecting both you and your loved ones negatively.

Experts call these mistakes “cognitive biases”.

The prevailing trend is to consider most cognitive biases as reasonable, which they are not.

Intuition and common sense are unreliable for making the right decisions.

The reason behind this is that intuition, and common sense are based on feelings and emotions. Not facts that reflect our shared, inter-human reality.

When making choices, your options for leading a fulfilling life are restricted to being informed or uninformed.

If you are improvising, you don’t have enough information about a decision you’re going to make.

Is that how you want to live?

If you’re feeling lost or confused about this topic, then this article will provide you with a solid starting point.

The Effect of Self-Reflection and Pragmatic Thinking in Personal Growth

Self-reflection and pragmatic thinking are important because they contribute to self-awareness and personal growth.

It helps you gain a deeper understanding of yourself, set clear boundaries, and communicate them effectively and clearly.

They present an opening for introspection and, if seized, it will pave the way for personal advancement.

Pragmatic Thinking is a fundamental cognitive process that helps you process information, solve problems, and generate new insights.

By engaging in both self-reflection and pragmatic thinking, you deepen your understanding of yourself and your personal growth journey, leading to enhanced self-awareness and personal fulfillment.



Self-reflection is a conscious and active process of examining your own thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and experiences.

It goes beyond surface-level thinking, delving deeper into the motivations and underlying factors that influence your actions.

Purpose and Benefits

The purpose of self-reflection is to gain insight into your values, beliefs, and priorities.

Through the process of self-reflection, you cultivate a more profound understanding of your own identity, or its absence.

Self-reflection serves as the compass for your aspirations and areas for personal growth.

It provides an opportunity for introspection and self-awareness.


Self-reflection requires you to analyze your thoughts, behaviors, and experiences in a deliberate and thoughtful manner.

It demands setting aside dedicated time for introspection, asking yourself, examining questions, and considering the reasons behind your actions.

This process leads to a clearer understanding of your identity and personal development.

Pragmatic Thinking


Pragmatic thinking refers to a practical and realistic approach to problem-solving and decision-making.

It directs your attention to processing information and generating thoughts, ideas, and solutions that work in real life, rather than relying on theoretical or idealistic considerations.

If it’s not practical, then you are not thinking pragmatically.

It expands beyond self-reflection, encompassing a wider range of topics and experiences.

Purpose and Context

The purpose of pragmatic thinking is to address issues and make decisions that take into consideration practicality, feasibility, and real-world limitations.

The advantage of pragmatic thinking lies in situations requiring immediate action, limited resources, or time constraints.

When dealing with complex or uncertain situations, pragmatic thinking provides a practical approach to problem-solving.

Here are three examples of pragmatic thinking:

Setting Realistic Goals

Situation: When you are setting personal goals for self-improvement.

Pragmatic Thinking: Instead of setting grand, intangible goals that are challenging to attain, the pragmatic thinker adopts practical and attainable targets.

For example, rather than eliminating a habit at once, you set a goal to reduce the habit within a specific timeframe while integrating a new, more constructive habit. This approach takes into consideration the practical steps needed for success.

Time Management for Skill Development

Situation: If you want to develop a new skill or pursue a hobby while managing a busy schedule.

Pragmatic Thinking: In this scenario, pragmatic thinking suggests evaluating your available time and finding practical ways to incorporate skill development into your routine.

This comprises setting aside specific time slots for practice, breaking down the learning process into manageable steps, and understanding that progress is gradual but consistent.

Adapting to Change

Situation: When you are facing a substantial life change, such as a career shift or relocation.

Pragmatic Thinking: Instead of resisting change or fixating on a glorified outcome, you adopt a pragmatic approach by accepting the reality of the situation and make practical decisions. This involves identifying your transferable skills, new opportunities, and creating a realistic action plan for the transition.

Distinction from Self-Reflection

Self-reflection focuses on examining your own thoughts and behaviors.

On the flip side, pragmatic thinking recognizes the constraints and uncertainties of change and focuses on navigating them.

When faced with changing circumstances, you approach them with a level-headed and pragmatic mindset, steering clear of optimistic or pessimistic approaches.

Final Thoughts

Self-reflection and pragmatic thinking both play important roles in understanding yourself, but they differ in their focus and depth of analysis.

Engaging in self-reflection facilitates the understanding of personal values and motivations.

While pragmatic thinking represents a practical cognitive approach to processing information and generating practical solutions that have a positive impact on you and your loved ones.

You achieve personal growth through the synergy of self-reflection and pragmatic thinking.

This combination of the two allows you to explore your values, overcome limiting beliefs, and make informed decisions.

Understanding yourself and creating fulfilling relationships requires both types of thinking, emphasizing balance in your journey towards self-discovery and personal fulfillment.

Four books you might find interesting:

  1. “Think Straight: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life” by Darius Foroux – This book focuses on the power of clear thinking and provides techniques to overcome cognitive biases and improve decision-making abilities. (Notes to self: I found this outstanding little book that offers practical advice on improving one’s thinking for a better life.)
  2. “Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman – This book explores the two mindsets that influence our decision-making and offers insights into how to make better decisions.
  3. “Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware” by Andy Hunt explores pragmatic thinking and offers practical strategies for problem-solving, decision-making, and personal growth.

These books can provide further insight into the topics of self-reflection, thinking and personal growth that are discussed in the text.

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