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Tune in to the self discovery channel with 10 tips for finding yourself

July 1, 2022 - 15 min read

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Self-discovery and self-exploration

Why self-discovery matters

What is the discovery process?

The bottom line

Who are you?

This is a deceptively simple question. You might answer with your name, but things become complicated if you dig a little deeper. Can you clearly name your interests, self-care requirements, work motivations, and life purpose

That’s a lot to chew on! To some people, the answers come easily. For others, it requires more work. 

It’s worth considering your response to this question. Self-knowledge helps you to: 

There’s a unique world living inside you. The hills and valleys are worth exploring. Like all good adventures, diving into yourself can be scary. It requires you to confront your fears, habits, and other gremlins holding you back.

But what is self-discovery, if not a worthy quest? Here’s our guide on how to get to know yourself better.

What are self-discovery and self-exploration?

Philosophers have deliberated over this question for years. Luckily, you don’t have to become a recluse to perform self-reflection. But you’ll need time and attention.

The 3 pillars of self-discovery

There are three important components to the discovery process:

  1. Self-awareness

Self-exploration is about cultivating a deep understanding of your character, feelings, and desires. 

As you gain awareness of these elements, more parts of yourself will rise to the surface. High self-awareness gives you greater self-control, empathy, creativity, and self-esteem. You’ll also have increased job satisfaction, collaboration, and confidence when making decisions in your workplace.

Being aware of your idiosyncrasies also gives you a chance to reinvent yourself. You can’t change a behavior if you aren’t aware of it. 

  1. Discomfort

The process of self-discovery is uncomfortable. It involves confronting parts of yourself that you may not like. But how can you learn to love that part of yourself or find a way to correct it if you refuse to acknowledge it? 

Self-discovery also involves trying new activities. Getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself to explore new things can be scary, but will help you discover more about your likes and dislikes. 

  1. Intentional living

As you learn more about yourself, you will live with more purpose. You will make choices more aligned with who you are and who you want to become.

Using Inner Work® for self-discovery

Inner Work® is the practice of looking inward to understand your authentic self and experiences. Inner Work isn't about dwelling in our past or ruminating on the present. Instead, it is a regular practice of starting in your inner world in order to achieve a particular purpose or result, to live and be in the world in a certain way. It means examining the habits and behaviors that affect our well-being and making changes where needed. 

You can use inner work to help you on your own journey of self-discovery by making time to deliberately engage across three dimensions (outlined by our CEO Alexi Robichaux):

  1. Looking in and assessing how you act and who you are
  2. Getting out of your space and habits.
  3. Linking up with others to share your experience. Together you can create space to share your thoughts and reflect.

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Why self-discovery matters

When you’re young, your peers can offer a form of self-discovery. Through them, you formed your taste and learned how to have healthy interactions with others. You may have also discovered the pitfalls of falling into cliques or having toxic relationships.

Finding your own sense of self as an adult can be tricky.  It’s easy to get lost in your environment or the people around you. Do you actually like that band, or do you just hear it at your friend’s house? While it’s important to have a group of close friends, independence will help you carve your own path in life. 

Here are some of the benefits of understanding yourself and what you can do with this identity:

  1. Communicate your needs better 
  2. Set clear boundaries
  3. Make better decisions about your life and career
  4. Compromise less on your values
  5. Love and accept yourself
  6. Take care of yourself and your body

The risks of not knowing yourself

When you don’t know yourself, you risk feeling a sense of self-alienation — a misalignment between you and your daily life. This can lead to feelings of sadness, guilt, or shame that you’re failing to live up to your full potential. 

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You also risk succumbing to the whims of others. For example, your parents might pressure you to become a doctor. If you’re not clear whether you like medicine, it’s challenging to resist, leading to trouble further down the road.

Commitments of this magnitude aren’t worth the risk of doing what others want you to do.

Examples of self-discovery

Your self-discovery journey will be unique, but there are some common elements that everyone encounters. Here are some things you might experience along the way:

  • Becoming aware of your core values and beliefs. When you’re aware of what matters to you, you’ll make choices that are better aligned with who you are.
  • Identifying your needs at work and at home. You work and live better within certain environments. It’s important to know what you need from your environment so you don’t trap yourself somewhere that doesn’t fit.
  • Understanding your strengths and weaknesses. When you know what you’re good at, you’ll know how to add value to other people’s lives. This helps you fulfill your sense of purpose. 
  • Noticing and understanding your thought patterns. Many unconscious processes act on you every day. When you identify them, you can break toxic thought patterns holding you back.
  • Becoming more curious. Self-discovery teaches you how to learn. You’ll ask better questions of yourself and others, and seek out new and exciting information about the world.
  • Being more comfortable with change. When you know yourself, you can control yourself in times of change. Like a tree bending with the wind, you’ll learn to adapt.

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What is the discovery process?

Now that you understand why self-discovery is important and what it can look like, we have some tips to help you on your journey. But first, let’s go over what you’ll be looking for.

What to look for in your self-discovery

Many pieces make you “you.” Answer these self-discovery questions to discover some key components about yourself:

  1. Where did you come from, geographically and spiritually?
  2. What fuels you? What depletes you?
  3. Who would you like to be?
  4. What are your interests?
  5. What does your inner critic tell you about who you are? (Or aren’t?)
  6. What does a life of meaning look like to you?

These are just the beginning. You’re a unique person, so you’ll discover several things that are impossible to list comprehensively here. You need to be observant and receptive to these discoveries.

Tips to get started

Now, here are some tips on how to explore your inner self:

1. Start journaling

Writing in a self-discovery journal will help you organize your thoughts. After a couple of days or weeks, go back and read what you wrote. Look for patterns or other insights. This is a great place to start your gratitude practice, too. Gratitude will help you see what’s most impactful in your life.

2. Pay attention to the small things

Try to notice the little things all around you. This will teach you to also be more observant in other areas of your life, like when you’re with your family or at work.

3. Question yourself

Question your habits, thoughts, and behaviors. Ask if they serve you or the person you want to become.

4. Meditate

Mindfulness and meditation will help calm your mind. Make room for truths to emerge, and let go of negative thoughts.

5. Trust yourself

Self-discovery is a vulnerable and challenging experience. Practice self-compassion and self-love. Trust that you’ll be able to get through this.

6. Be curious without judgment

Investigate your thoughts, behaviors, and personal values. Ask why they’re there and where they come from.

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7. Leave your comfort zone

Try new hobbies and activities. Take a class. Go on a trip. These experiences will reveal your likes and dislikes.

8. Learn from failure

You might try a new job or a new skill, and you might not succeed right away. Pay attention to these failures. They have something to teach you.

9. Choose habits intentionally

Pick habits that bring you closer to who you want to be. Be patient:  forming a habit takes time. Create a plan, use a habit-tracking app, and stick to it.

10. Dream big

Your dreams and aspirations say a lot about who you are. Pay attention to them, and don’t be afraid to chase them down.

11. Ask for guidance

Therapists and professional coaches are trained to help you get to know yourself. Techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy focus on helping you identify negative thoughts and feelings to break toxic cycles and make better choices for yourself.

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The bottom line

Next time someone asks you, “What is self-discovery?” you’ll be an expert. Even if you haven’t figured out who you are yet, the journey of self-discovery is an exciting one.

There are few things more thrilling than knowing who you are and who you want to become. This process will help you find a renewed sense of purpose and step closer to your authentic self.

This is meant to be an ongoing process that can improve all aspects of life. For help along the way, you can work with BetterUp. We’ll guide you through the process of Inner Work®, so you can start living the life you want.

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Published July 1, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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