Self-Discovery: Getting to Know Yourself
This is a journey into the depths of yourself and your life. It is an excavating process. Make it fun- enjoy it.
If you stay present with it you will walk through the forest and see the light at the end of the tunnel. On your way you will probably get lost, confused, and discouraged but you will also be delighted, amazed, astonished, and excited about some of the things you discover.
This part of my process, I began in the middle of my chaos of confusion, depression and disillusionment with myself and life. I was lost and empty. I felt like I didn’t exist anymore. It was a start and stop process even when I stepped out of life to focus on the process, I still didn’t jump completely into it. I took small steps at a time. (You can read my full process in my soon to be released memoir, Through the Woods to the Sea)
Identity and Sense of Self
What is your identity? What is your sense of self?
We often identify ourselves using a combination of our
- Occupations – teacher, doctor, engineer, accountant
- Social relationships – colleague, friend, husband/wife
- Family relationships – brother/sister, mother/father son/daughter
- Avocations – musician, athlete, artist
- Abilities/disabilities and attributes – funny, shy, reliable, good looking, kind, intelligent
It is a collection of these identifications, the roles we play, and our personality traits that we choose, consciously or unconsciously, to incorporate into our self-perception.
Who do you think you are?
We all have a story we tell ourselves and others who we are.
- What roles do you use to define yourself?
- How do you see yourself?
- How do you feel about yourself?
- What do you see in the mirror?
- How would you describe yourself?
What is the story you tell yourself about who you are and why you are who you are?
The story I believed for most of my life about myself was that I was told I wasn’t good enough to be out in the world. So I hid myself away at home and became some stranger when I was at school and out in the world. Eventually the separation became blurred as did my identity and sense of self. I never had a sense of self or knew who I was. When I became a mother, I escaped into that one role and I went completely missing in action. I believed I couldn’t be myself because I wasn’t good enough to exist. So I became nonexistent.
Getting to Know Yourself
Walking the Paths of the Past: Excavating the Formation of Your Identity
Make a chart or take a piece of paper and label each stage of life: Infancy, Early Childhood, School-age, Adolescents, Young Adulthood, Adulthood or you can separate your life using years or decades: Years 1-5, 6-12, 13-18, 19-25, 25-29, 30’s, 40’s etc.
Write down what you remember or know about each stage of your life. Answer these questions for each stage. Write down anything that comes to mind. It may not be seem significant to you now but it may later.
- What significant events, circumstances, situations occurred during each stage? Who were you at each stage of your development?
- How did these events, circumstances or situations impact or influence your identity? Your sense of self?
- What were you like during each stage?
- What did you love/hate about your life? Yourself?
- What activities did you love? List all the things you did that gave you joy, made you happy and had fun doing.
- What were you good at? What did you excel at?
- What roles did you play?
Looking back on what you uncovered:
- What parts of yourself have you rediscovered during the excavating process?
- Did you discover something about yourself during the excavating process that amazes you? Are you stronger than you believed about yourself?
- What part of yourself is not being acknowledged?
- What have you learned about yourself?
During the excavating process I discovered that I was a confident active fun little girl. I rediscovered things I loved, the weather, music, dancing, horseback riding, writing stories and poetry. I discovered that during the time I was missing in action that I became stronger inside. That I developed a determination to find a way back to life.
I realized that there in the books and movies I loved as a child was my inner self that I had been denying. They were my way of connecting and being myself in my imagination when I felt I couldn’t be myself in my everyday life as I child. I kept myself alive through them. When I was a teenager and into my adulthood I kept my essence alive through the stories and poems I wrote.
So the first steps in reconnecting with the person deep within was is relieving those childhood loves. It was my first step to connect with who I had been. And became the starting point for becoming liking who I was and realizing that there was nothing wrong with her.
Self-Discovery Activities to discover more about Yourself
Connecting with your inner self is a deep soul searching process. It should be fun and exciting even in the moments of uncertainty and growing.
Pick one of your favorite activities you did as a child and do it again. See how it makes you feel now. What does it tell you about yourself?
Now pick an activity that you wish you had done that haven’t yet. Now plan a day and time to do it. How does planning it feel? Are you anticipating it with excitement or are you anxious. Once you have done it – How was the whole experience? What did you learn about yourself?
Do something you do not like to do. How do you get yourself to do it? How did you feel before you did it? How do you feel about doing it now? Would you do it again or do you still not like doing it?
Talk to someone who has known you for a long time. Ask them some of your self-discovery questions. Ask them to describe you as if they were telling someone else about you.
In returning to school and studying some of those childhood loves at an adult level I began to cultivate a relationship with the person I would have become. In studying mindfulness and present moment I cultivated a relationship with who I was in that moment – a mixture of all I had hidden away, lost and all that I had experienced as a disassociated person. I uncovered wonderful things about myself.
Yet until I found myself in the woods I hadn’t really thought about who I was becoming and who I wanted to be. I connected to the little girl inside and the person within the mother but I didn’t have a solid sense of self without the structures of my life.
Who do you want to be? What do you want?
No one asked me those questions until Sr. Henrita asked me. My life was always about what I was expected to do or what others wanted. Having connected with the person I had hidden away and lost now I had to figure who I was now and who I wanted to be in the world.
- What activities do you love? Do you hate?
- What makes you happy? Sad? Peaceful? Excited?
- What excites and inspires you?
- What new activities are you interested in or willing to try?
- What are your goals and dreams?
- What do you really want to do? Are you doing that?
- What do you stand for?
- What is it that wants to speak from your heart?
- What do you want to contribute to the world?
Moving forward begins in the present moment but it helps to have a vision. It doesn’t have to be a clear ridged goal, but you must have a direction to begin walking towards. Take some time to think about those questions, explore them, and explore possibilities. Stay present follow your intuition and your heart. Each day, each experience you will discover more about who you are becoming.
You have come far, before you move forward it is time to take a breath, to marinate and blend what you have learned and what you know now with what your heart and soul know. Breakthroughs happen in times of mental relaxation.
Let go of anything you no longer want to carry around. Plan a ceremony or ritual where you symbolically let it go and release it.
Plan a Celebration – A Celebration of You. Plan it yourself. Plan it your way. Invite who you want. Or go out and celebrate you with you! Celebrate by doing something you have always wanted to do! Or just pamper yourself.
Stepping into yourself and your life is a path of perpetual movement and personal growth to come into alignment with your true self and authentic self-expression.
Next is taking what you have learned and begin to express that inner person in your everyday life.