Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and realized that somewhere along the journey of life, you lost sight of who you are?
I can still remember the moment I realized that I felt completely lost in life and unsure of who I was or what I wanted. I was newly married, recently graduated, and fully separated from my carefree days.
It was dinnertime and my pot roast was nearly done but my overwhelm was just cooking up… I found myself crying (reason unknown to even me), and struggling to gather myself. When I finally did, I realized that I was stuck.
I felt disconnected from who I was and what I wanted for my life. So, I took to the internet and eventually set out on a journey of self discovery that has literally revolutionized my life.
These days, anytime I start to feel that way, I slow down to dive deep into who I am and what I want. I’ve learned some super impactful self discovery techniques over the years, and now I’m sharing them with you.
These tips will help you reconnect with who you are, what you want, and give you a starting point for creating a life you truly enjoy living.
What is Self Discovery?
Before we dive into the “how”, I wanted to discuss the “what”. What is self discovery?
I decided to look this one up just to see what a dictionary would say the self discovery definition is and what it came up with summarizes it nicely – “the act or process of gaining knowledge or understanding of your abilities, character, and feelings.” (source)
Can we just talk about how powerful that is for a moment? I’ve come to believe that self discovery is the foundation of all our personal growth.
Awareness and “understanding of your abilities, character, and feelings”… is so important in making steps towards knowing what actions to take in creating the life you want.
It’s looking into your own soul and acknowledging what is there so that you can be intentional about who you mold yourself into.
It’s becoming aware of the thoughts, habits, beliefs, and actions that are working together every day to create your world so that you can be intentional about changing the things that you don’t want to carry into your future.
Personally, I used to shy away from self discovery a bit because I was afraid of what I might find. Looking into your own inner world can be hard, but as I’ve leaned into it over the years, I’ve found that it also gives you a power over your own life that I think few other things do. Which leads me to why self discovery is so important…
Importance of Self Discovery
A few years after I started my personal growth journey, I took some time to sit down and dive into the different stages of growth I had experienced. My goal was to identify the areas that had made the biggest difference in my life.
As I looked over everything, a pattern emerged and I realized that at the foundation of all my growth – every new level – was self discovery. It led me to see three key ways the importance of self discovery played out in my life and the impact they made.
Why is Self Discovery Important?
1) It enables you to see where change is necessary
Very rarely do we take action to change the things we don’t see as needing a change. It’s when we have those “ah-ha” moments of self awareness about how we’ve been holding ourselves back or the consequences of our actions that we are empowered to change it.
Diving into a self discovery journey gives you the ability to look at what is and create what will be. It empowers us to see and utilize our greatest strengths and work to shift the things that hold us back.
A quote I really love from Albert Einstein says “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”.
Yet, we do this all the time. We live, breathe, think, and act the exact same way and can’t figure out why nothing is changing.
The importance of self discovery is sooo major for experiencing personal growth and pivoting the direction of our lives towards futures built with intention.
2) Reconnects you with who you are and what you want
I’ve heard from so many of my readers lately that they are feeling disconnected from who they are and what they want for their lives. I’m seeing it all over social media and frankly, occasionally feeling it myself.
So much has happened and changed in the world around us that it’s easy to lose sight of our goals. As the world pivots, so does how we function in it.
Taking the time to sit down, give yourself some space, and acknowledge who you want to be and what that means for your life in the new atmosphere is so absolutely beneficial to reconnecting with who you are and what you want in life.
So why is self discovery so important? Because, I believe it is the foundation of all intentional change in our lives. If you want to skillfully navigate towards a life you feel connected with and are confident in, start by diving into what that looks like.
3) Gives you the foundation for confident living
Have you ever noticed how much happier and lighthearted you feel when you’re confident in something than when you feel really unsure? A test in school, or a project at work, or even in yourself in a new friendship.
Well, life is the same way. The more confident you feel about who you are, what you want in life, and the path to get there, the more joyous you feel.
Self discovery is actually a big part of being confident in life. How can you be confident in who you are if you don’t know who that is? How can you head confidently in the direction of life you want if you don’t know what that is?
That isn’t to say that you have to have everything figured out. I believe we change and pivot as we grow in age, wisdom, and experience, but feeling confident in your direction and when you need to pivot feels so much better than stumbling through life unsure and fearful about everything. Can you relate?
How to embark on a journey of self discovery
Whether you’re looking to level up or simply wanting to reconnect with who you are and what you want in life, embarking on a journey of self discovery is an amazing starting point.
As with anything in life, it’s best to start with setting an intention for moving forward. When it comes to self discovery, I believe our intention is most often to become the best version of ourselves.
I have often heard the argument that self discovery activities can lead a person to settling for “the way they are” and use what they find as excuses for not doing better. That’s not what we’re going for here though. In everything we do, our goal is to be just a little better – to learn and grow. It’s the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.
That’s really the first step for beginning to embark on a journey of self discovery… commit to growth.
When we do that, we can look at the hard truths about ourselves and utilize the facts to help us level up rather than beating ourselves up for what we didn’t know/who we were before. It’s all part of the process.
Self Discovery Process
I first heard Mel Robbins say, “when you know better, you do better. If you had known better, you would have done better.”
Personally, I think this has been the grounding quote of my personal growth and self discovery process.
Because it is a process.
Which usually looks something like having a self revelation, wondering why you hadn’t seen it before, seeing all the ways it’s held you back, and teetering for a moment between feeling shame for what has been and excitement over the potential of changing it for the future.
This teetering spot is the game changing moment in which you get to decide what next steps you’re going to take. You get to choose if you’ll use the new revelation for growth, or self deprecation. I think we usually opt for the latter, because frankly, it’s the path of least resistance, but that’s what makes this whole thing such a life altering process.
If you find yourself in this spot and want to choose growth, but aren’t sure what to do, just thank yourself for getting you this far. You’ve done your best up to this point, but now you know better and so you can choose better. You can choose what is necessary for your future because what got you here won’t get you there.
That’s really the self discovery process in a gist – the cycle of seeing a self revelation and then choosing to lean into it for growth and to go again.
Steps to Self Discovery
The whole point of self discovery is growth. If you aren’t looking for growth, then there is no reason to bring awareness to patterns of limiting behavior, thoughts, beliefs, or actions. Discovering any of those things would only bring about frustration, anger, and defensiveness.
I talked a bit earlier in this post about how committing to growth and the process is the first step to embarking on a journey of self discovery. However, I want to further expound on next steps and tips to help you map out a plan for yourself.
Step 1 – Commit to growth
When you enter into self discovery with a growth mindset, you’ll feel more confident in moving forward through the difficult things.
It’ll give you the peace of mind that there is purpose in the journey and pain of reflecting on your inner self. It will also build you up and give you great hope when you discover your incredible and unique strengths that will be the pillars of building your future.
Step 2 – Forgive yourself and others
You didn’t know better then but you will now. Give yourself the forgiveness and peace you need to move forward in life.
As you enter into your self discovery journey, you may also find that frustrations and anger towards others come up too. Especially people we feel should have known better. Forgive them too. If they had known better, they would have done better.
Forgiveness and grace is a powerful thing that can set you free if you will let it. It doesn’t mean forgetting (because now you know better than to repeat some patterns), but it does mean moving past for better things.
Step 3 – Connect with your inner self
The truth is, self discovery and personal growth, they’re hard things. It’s hard work (which is why I talk a lot about having fun along the way) but doing the prep work and preparing your heart and mind for the journey is a huge part of getting started.
Once your heart and mind are ready, it’s time to connect with your inner self. You do this with openness and awareness towards thoughts, feelings, and actions. Step out of autopilot mode and bring some intentionality to what we’re thinking, feeling, and doing.
When I started to do this, I discovered I was thinking and doing so many things absentmindedly that really surprised me. It does take time and practice so don’t expect to catch everything right away but beginning to lean into this will literally be life changing for you.
Step 4 – Recognize if it’s serving you or harming you
Once you’re more aware of what’s going on in your inner self and how it’s creating your outer world, take a moment to check in on whether it’s serving you and your future or harming you.
Said another way, does that thing (habit, thinking pattern, belief) get you closer to your goals or hold you back?
I have a goal to always feel physically energized and healthy. It’s something I think a part of me has always wanted but I used to believe that my energy levels were just what they were. If I felt blah and lethargic, it was just because that’s how my body was and I would grab a coca-cola or a candy bar when I needed a “pick me up”.
Then a few years ago, I heard Brendon Burchard say that we have to generate our own energy. A power plant doesn’t just have energy, it produces energy.
So, I examined my beliefs around my health – turns out, eating healthy and moving my body plays a major part in how I feel. I got a food sensitivity test done, which brought about self discovery/awareness for myself.
At which point, I was empowered to make a change. I could examine if my old beliefs were harming me or serving me. I realized continuing to eat things that a lab test literally said was harming me was a good time to shift my beliefs.
Step 5 – Let go or level up
Once you have awareness of what things are harming you or serving you, it’s time to let go or level up.
Let go of the habits, beliefs, and thinking patterns that hold you back and level up in that area to point yourself in the direction you want to go in life.
Begin to step into your ability to design your ideal life and lifestyle so that you become your best self and create your best life.
In the story above, I realized that my belief that I had no control over how I felt physically was harming me and holding me back. So, I let it go and made a choice to level up my habits and thinking.
It’s not a perfect process and I still sometimes mess up, but as a whole, my entire health has shifted as a result of changing patterns.
What about you? What areas are you ready to let go and level up in?
So there you have it! My thoughts on what self discovery is, why it’s important, plus my best tips for embarking on your own journey.
I honestly don’t know where I would be without the process I laid out in this post. Probably still completely stuck in life and in the exact same place I was when I graduated college. If we aren’t growing, then we’re stagnant and let’s be honest, no one likes the stench that comes along with stagnant things.
Still not totally sure how Self Discovery can help you start your journey towards better living?
Get your comfy blanket, favorite journal and the good snacks, cause I’ve got you covered!
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