I recently quoted Socrates. "The unexamined life is not worth living." He believed that self examination is a key to wisdom and virtue, to getting our bearings in life, and to moving forward in the right direction.
And I agree. But we need to balance his insight with our own. "The unlived life is not worth examining." We can't spend all our time in front of an existential mirror. We need to get out of the self reflective head space in order to go out into the world and do something great. Self examination can be very helpful. It's necessary. But too much self reflection can gum us up.
A high school jazz teacher once told me how often he walks by a practice room and hears a student playing much better than he would have thought possible, but that if the student becomes aware of him outside the door, the performance will go dramatically downhill at once. The student becomes too self aware of his own playing as an object of assessment. Excellence in many endeavors requires rather a sort of self forgetfulness, almost a thoughtlessness that is possible only because of all the prior thought and deliberate effort that has paved its way. We need to get out of our own heads, and free ourselves from too much self awareness if we are to be our best at anything.
As a public philosopher, I'm at my best when I'm least self aware. In a room speaking on a topic I've been asked to address, the true magic happens when I completely forget myself and become almost one with the room, the people, and the ideas flowing through my brain. I'm not apart from the experience, observing it. I'm just having it. I'm almost being it. And that's not a time at all for self examination.
So, like many things in life, self awareness, self reflection, and self examination can be great, and vitally important, when used properly. But we also have to know when to put those tools down and just live. Then, we also need to know when to take them up again - but that takes a measure of wisdom, which is basically the skill of living well.