Reflection is a key component of change for the criminal thinker. The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers nine different definitions for this word and several of them provide insight for persons seeking a positive change in their lives. One of the first definitions of the word is “the production of an image by or as if by a mirror.” This is an excellent definition of the role of change agents in the lives of offenders. Many cognitive-behavioral counselors and therapists see their purpose as holding up a mirror to the victimizer that enters treatment. Their job is to help abusers see the truth and consequences of their actions. They succeed when they are able to build a sense of self-disgust in the client. Criminal thinkers must develop a healthy sense of self-disgust for what they have done and what they have become. Self pity is self defeating, but self-disgust motivates positive change. Unless the criminal thinker can view themselves honestly in the mirror and experience the disgust that goes along with acknowledging the harm they have caused, they are bound to continue repeating patterns of violence and abuse while minimizing, blaming and distorting the truth of their actions.
The second relevant definition of the word “reflection” for the changing criminal is: a thought, idea, or opinion formed or a remark made as a result of meditation. The most common meditation criminal thinkers perform is the premeditated actions of planning and committing crimes. Meditation on the ripple effect of those crimes is far from their thinking. In order for change to occur the changing criminal must constantly check their motivations and thinking. They must reflect on the decisions they made each day and identify all the times they used harmful thinking tactics which have become a habit in their lives. Thinking tactics such as manipulation, controlling others, belittling, minimizing, distorting the truth and divert attention away from themselves must be identified and replaced with their natural opposites. Instead of minimizing the harm that their actions caused, they should maximize it. Instead of diverting attention away from themselves when held accountable, they should keep the focus on themselves to experience full accountability for their actions.
A radical approach to change is needed for radically distorted thinking that has resulted in countless victims, violence and pain.