Photo by Taylor Smith
Self-discovery Leads to Realization of True Potential.
Would you like yourself if you met you? Would you even recognize yourself?
Especially in this modern age of digital connection, it’s easy to get caught up in projections and images of what we think we should be. It’s also almost effortless to shift into the roles that other people expect us to fill.
Along the way, we can lose our sense of self to such an intimate degree that we don’t even realize it’s happening.
That’s why self-discovery is such a noble and necessary pursuit. When we shift our focus inward and away from outside influence, we’re better poised to ask the hard questions and receive real insights into our true being.
Today, we’re sharing a guide to navigating this deeply personal process. Read on to learn seven steps to take to uncover the incredible reality of who you really are and occupy your unique and rightful space.
Why Does Self-Discovery Matter?
Do you feel overwhelmed and burdened most of the time, without a concrete reason why? Are you consumed by emotions that don’t have anywhere to go?
Emotional intelligence is at the core of our ability to process and work through our feelings, both good and bad. A critical part of being, it means knowing how to process and understand our mental state, rather than getting lost in it.
When you start down a journey of self-discovery, you’ll become more emotionally intelligent every day.
In turn, this can lead to a renewed sense of peace that allows you to hold steady regardless of what’s happening around you. It will also empower you to disassociate yourself from the expectations placed upon you, freeing you to embrace and become who you were always meant to be.
Seven Steps Toward Self-Discovery
Before you begin your personal discovery journey, it’s important to open your heart and mind to what you might find.
Along the way, you’ll likely expose traits, beliefs or emotions that you’ve been suppressing for years. Some of these might be difficult to face, especially if you hinge your personal value on the judgment of others.
However, keeping your perspective open and inviting can make this process both enjoyable and fulfilling. Knowing this, let’s take a look at seven steps that can help you find your true sense of self.
1. Understand Your Personality
Begin by assessing your personality. What key traits would you say define you? What words would you use to describe yourself to others?
The key to optimizing this exercise is to go beyond the surface level. Yes, you might be a go-getter or an overachiever. However, don’t stop with those words.
Dig deeper to better understand why your work ethic is on overdrive. Question your thought patterns, belief systems and past events that shaped you into the person you’ve become.
How many decisions have you made because you truly felt they were right and how many were inert responses to someone else’s nudging? If you find it difficult to get to these inner layers, there are a few practices that can help, including:
- Quiet contemplation
Personality Tests and Assessments
You can also access our short personality tests and assessments to get started. One of our favorites is provided through the Institute on Character.
For longer versions of personality tests go to Values in Action (VIA) Character Strengths Survey to reveal your greatest and strongest traits.
Another resource is the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). This is a set of tests that reveals elements of your unique personality based on how you feel, act, or behave.
There are even tools you can access that help links your personal DNA to your personality traits. If you’ve already taken a DNA test such as 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Or MyHeritage, you can use the insights unlocked in these assessments to reveal more than just your physical genetics.
GenomeLink is one example of such a tool. This free resource checks your DNA data against more than 25 different personality traits ranging from agreeableness and extraversion to risk-taking and empathy. What results is an amazing way to learn more about yourself from a scientific perspective.
Together, all of these tools can help shed light on the aspects of your personality that make you unique, along with the issues that pique your interest and get you engaged. You’ll emerge with a clearer understanding of your purpose in life.
2. Consider Your Core Values
Along with your personality, also consider the core values that form the foundation of who you are.
Begin by creating a list of the 10 things that matter the most to you in life. As you write this list, remember that you are the only one who will read it. Be completely honest and lay everything bare, even if your list doesn’t reveal the values you thought you’d find.
Most people have around eight to 10 core values that direct the decisions they make and the futures they shape for themselves. Understanding yours is critical to pulling back the layers of your true intentions and key motivators.
If you find it difficult to come up with a list of 10, don’t rush the process. Sit with your journal and be still. Ask yourself these questions to help initiate the brainstorming process:
- When in my life have I felt the happiest?
- When in my life have I felt the proudest?
- When in my life have I felt the most fulfilled and satisfied?
The answers can cover both professional and personal instances. With each question, consider what you were doing during that time.
Were you with other people or were you alone? What factors contributed to those feelings of happiness, pride, and satisfaction? Did anyone else share those sentiments with you?
This exercise can help reveal what gives your life meaning. Here is a list of core values that you can use as a starting point.
3. Nourish Your Body
Strengthening your emotional fitness is only part of the equation. To achieve a complete revelation, you must also consider the physical aspects of your being.
Scientists and healthcare experts have long discussed the important link between emotional and physical health and the interrelations between the two.
Understanding this, are you in-tune with your body or are you treating it as an afterthought? Do you truly know and understand that you deserve good health and happiness or are you indirectly punishing your body as you muddle through internal struggles?
Start by engaging in mindfulness meditation to become more aware of your simple breathing patterns. Where are you carrying extra stress or tension? Which movements feel good and which elicit pain?
From there, examine your dietary and workout habits. Are you nourishing your body or neglecting it? The answer can unearth scores of insights into your body image and how you perceive your own physical capabilities.
4. Examine Past Experiences
You are the sum of everything that has happened with you or to you over the course of your lifetime. There has not been a single insignificant moment that was not included in your story.
As you pursue self-discovery, it’s important to give credence to these experiences, whether they helped you grow or impeded your progress. Remember: Regardless of what has happened to you in the past, authentic happiness is your natural birthright, as is total wellness.
You were born pure and full of potential and you can still regain that sense of innocence and promise. You are still a gift to the world and your purpose is very real, even if it feels small right now.
Leaning into this promise can help you move forward with confidence and finally leave hurtful memories and painful recollections where they belong: in the rearview mirror.
5. Find Your Passion
No journey to self-discovery is complete without considering every aspect of your life, including your professional career.
If you’re honest with yourself, are you in your current position because you thought it was the right thing to do? Are you heading to work every day to live out someone else’s dream? Do you put on a happy mask every day to hide your internal battle?
Trace the journey back to where it first began. Did your parents encourage a certain course of study in school that put you on a track that you couldn’t jump away from? Not only can this lead to unfulfillment in your professional life, but it can also sow seeds of personal resentment.
A stifling career does more than generate boredom and restlessness. It also denies you the opportunity to embrace self-expression and reveal who you really are. This can lead to significant, long-term consequences, including depression.
Ask yourself this important question: If I could do it all over again, what profession would I pursue? What is my real “dream job” or passion and what could I do to get there?
While the answer might feel daunting, remember that everyone has a beginning. You deserve the right to determine who you become in this lifetime, and what you spend your working hours accomplishing.
Your first step toward a more rewarding work-life starts with a single step. You deserve a career that allows you to embrace and reveal every part of who you are and doesn’t force you into a box you were never meant to fill.
6. Remember Your Meaning
Write down five people who you have directly influenced during your life. Then, write down anyone who would be directly impacted if you were not here.
Chances are, you’ll see plenty of overlap in your lists. Though we tend to downplay the important roles we play, it’s important to be realistic about the weight that your presence holds.
When you begin to feel like your life has a meaning and purpose, you’ll be that much more motivated to take care of your mind, body, soul, and spirit.
As you cultivate those elements to their highest capacity, you’ll naturally generate more positive thoughts that improve your overall health and contribute to your longevity. The Law of Attraction says that we attract into our lives the very things that we are focused on, so dwelling on the negative can actually cause us to encounter more roadblocks! Staying positive can help clear the way for success.
If you feel as though your list is shorter than it should be or you’d simply like more people in your corner, remember that there are helpers, teachers, and counselors ready to stand in that gap. You are never alone, even on days when you can’t find a friend to call.
Rather than keeping a stiff resolve and trying to be self-sufficient at all times, reach out for the help you need and find healing in the process. Sometimes, it takes an outsider’s perspective to remind you of the incredible meaning and potential interwoven into your life.
7. Don’t Run From Failure
As you embrace this process of self-discovery, remember to be gentle with yourself. Knowing who you are at the core is an incredible adventure, but it doesn’t stop there.
Even with crystal-clear self-perception, you are still human. That means you’re still vulnerable to hurt, loss, pain, and disappointment. The good news is that setbacks can be setups.
Even when you hit rock bottom and it feels as though the weight of the world is bearing down on you, you can use this position to rise back up. Often, you’ll begin this self-discovery process in the first place because you’ve already reached the depths of despair and aren’t sure where else to turn.
It’s incredibly freeing to realize that you’re never too far gone. Failing miserably can give you the determination, drive and inner resilience required to come back stronger than ever before.
Discover Your True Self and Unlock Your Potential
When you live behind a cloak of suppression, it’s easy to feel overlooked and inauthentic. In turn, seeds of worthlessness and inadequacy are allowed to sow freely in our lives.
Only when you commit yourself to a journey of self-discovery can you break free from those suffocating chains of external expectation. As you learn more about who you are and why you’re here, your current and future roles become more apparent. You’re able to love more freely and give more abundantly, accepting that same generosity returned to you in spades.
Are you looking for more resources to help guide you along this path? You came to the right place. Our site is full of the articles and guides you need to find peace and meaning in all aspects of your life.