This term refers to self-examination of one’s own words, deeds, and inner thoughts. Introspection is a way of moral cultivation put forward by Mencius. Mencius inherited the Confucian belief that one’s moral integrity and meritorious deeds are determined by his own ethical cultivation. If his words or deeds fail to gain endorsement or appreciation from others, one should not blame them. On the contrary, one should examine himself to find out if his words and deeds as well as inner thoughts conform to standards of ethics and propriety.
A benevolent person is like an archer. The archer should first take the correct position before shooting the arrow. If he misses the target, instead of blaming others who have done better, he should conduct self-examination to find out the cause. (Mencius)
If others do not reciprocate your kindness towards them, you should think about whether your kindness is true or not. If you govern unsuccessfully, think about whether your governance philosophy is sound or not. If others do not reciprocate your courtesy towards them, think about whether your courtesy is sincere or not. Whenever you fail to achieve the desired result, you need to conduct retrospection to find out the cause. If you conduct yourself honorably, all the people will pledge allegiance to your rule. (Mencius)