10 BIG Self Discovery Questions to Ask Yourself

10 BIG Self Discovery Questions to Ask Yourself

By Kelly Nickels.

The definitions of self discovery vary from source to source because, like many things, there is no one pathway to self discovery. Nor is there a singular definition that fully encapsulates the concept. This is one version of what I’ve found to be my truth. 

What Is Self Discovery?

Self Discovery is an unique, individual journey to the identification of the unconscious ego-based illusory ‘Self’ paired with the newfound awareness of your conscious authentic Self. 

In other words, Self Discovery is the recognition that you are not your mind. It’s the realization that all of the thoughts swirling around in your head is actually not who you are at the essence of your being.

Okay, let’s break that down. So all the negative thoughts and emotional reactions that flare up aren’t actually who you are. Then what are they? They are unconscious defense mechanisms of the ego: An illusory ‘self’ born (usually at a young age) of societal expectations and false beliefs. Unconscious doesn’t mean ‘knocked out’, rather that you are currently not aware that you’re reacting from an inauthentic place. For example, a comment someone says triggers you and it’s as if you are on an unconscious ‘autopilot’ being defensive or upset before you even know what’s coming out of your mouth. We’ve all been there. But is that You? 

You are the only person who can answer that question for yourself. How? Start listening to your thoughts. Without judgment. Only when you start being a ‘Witness’ of your thoughts do you begin to have the self-awareness and capacity to respond from a consistently authentic place. Intuition is a great indicator of what’s considered your conscious authentic self. Your conscious authentic self flows naturally and has your greater good always prioritized. It is an effortless flow of energy from inside of you. 

Fear, guilt, shame, and other negative emotions usually stem from identification with the ego or the false self. You can actually feel your body tensing up to help distinguish the difference. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health manifestations are there to help you understand you are reacting from your false self. This isn’t to say the mind is an enemy, but when allowed to control your decision-making, fear and other negative emotions could keep you from pursuing what your authentic self guides you to pursue. What you actually want and desire. This is why the journey to self discovery is so important.

a man in the woods holds a camera facing toward you


10 Questions To Ask Yourself

The act of questioning yourself is the avenue to self-discovery. When you ask yourself higher level questions, even if you do not find an answer right away or even at all, you are guiding yourself to a higher level of consciousness. Here are 10 great questions to ask yourself to exercise that sexy psyche of yours:


Question #1: Am I reacting from a place of Fear or Love? 


Question #2: Is the story my mind is telling me what I believe to be the truth? Has it been known to be wrong in the past?


Question #3: If I were to die today, would I be proud of who I have been and what I’ve chosen to pursue in life?


Question #4: How does it feel when I follow my heart? How does it feel when I follow my logical mind?


Question #5: Is the career I am pursuing what I want or what family members in my life wants?


Question #6: Do I seek external validation (social media, approval of parents / friends, relationships etc) to feel complete? Do I feel whole or complete when I am alone?


Question #7: Am I trying to use another person or addiction (alcohol, drugs, shopping, etc) to fill the void I feel within myself? 


Question #8: If I lost all my material possessions, would I lose my identity?


Question #9: What is keeping me from pursuing my dream? Are those things real or fear disguised as practicality? 


Question #10: Does silence make me uncomfortable? Why?

 

prayer flags hang in the canopy of lush green trees


What Are Some Self-Discovery Techniques?

Self-discovery techniques only prove helpful once you have committed to your own inner journey. I assume by reading this article you have, or are close to doing so, or you wouldn’t be here. Try different ways to see what works for you. These are a few that I’ve found useful:

Self-Love / Self-Worth

You have to learn to love yourself before you can allow someone else to do it as well. That’s it. There’s nothing wrong with being single. There’s nothing wrong with being alone. There’s nothing wrong with taking time for yourself to work out who you are before you go out there into the dating world, because how can you offer who you are if you don’t know who you are? There’s nothing wrong with being selfish for a bit because you’ve got the rest of your life to be selfless. If you only love yourself at 20%, that means somebody can come along and love you 30%. You’re like, ‘Wow, that’s so much.’ It’s literally less than half. Whereas if you love yourself 100%, a person that falls in love with you has to go above and beyond the call of duty to make you feel special.” 

Daniel Sloss, Jigsaw


Self-Love and Self-Worth are core pillars of self-discovery. I personally believe if your inner journey had a college curriculum, they would be considered self-discovery 101. When I left my marriage, I told my ex-husband that I felt I couldn’t love him properly until I learned to love myself. This inner aching for understanding is what guided me beyond my marriage to start upon my journey back to myself. It will manifest in different ways for every person because this is, like I said before, an unique, individualized journey. 

A good place to start is to begin to prioritize yourself. Easier said than done. Trust me, I still struggle with this one because I’ve had a tendency to put others before myself my whole life under the guise of being an ‘empath.’ Empathy is an amazing trait, but you don’t have to be less of your self to be selfless. It doesn’t make you selfish to prioritize yourself. 

Introspection

I think self-care gets a bad rep these days because they’re written off as trendy, empowerment strategies to mitigate actual inner work and personal development. Sure, being a strong, independent personality type who buys themselves their own damn flowers is a good start, but are you getting to the core of what you may feel is lacking about yourself? So when I say prioritize yourself, I don’t mean externally. I mean, internally. This is introspection. 

Ask yourself big questions. Notice trends and patterns that have been recurring in your life that you may prefer to avoid or pass blame onto others. Hold yourself accountable for being the co-pilot of your existence. Start to prioritize your relationship with yourself over any person externally. This is how you begin to love yourself unconditionally and get to the bottom of those limiting beliefs and behaviours that have been running your life unknowingly.


Mindfulness

A powerful way to personal growth and grounded well-being is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of consciously choosing to reside in the present moment. I think a lot of time we think we are living in the moment, but our minds have us living in the past or future. If you find yourself daydreaming about a future scenario that may never come to pass or dwelling on something you did in the past, mindfulness can help ground yourself back in the present moment. This is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself.

There’s a lot of different techniques to make mindfulness a part of your everyday life that can be found in our article, The Ultimate Guide to Mindfulness Techniques, if this resonates with where you are at currently on your life path.

But how can residing in the present moment assist in my self-discovery? Living in the present moment provides the perfect environment to be present with yourself (literally) and do the aforementioned inner work. How difficult is it to concentrate on your studies when someone is clicking a pen? Hard, right? Your mind is that pen. It’s constantly churning out new distracting thoughts to keep you procrastinating your inner work. Why does it want you to procrastinate? Because if you do the inner work, your mind won’t run the show anymore and it desperately wants to continue to do so.

Travel

Travel can be either a help or hindrance on your self-discovery journey, because it can either inform or distract you. This takes a lot of self-control, but even if you get distracted, it usually is a lesson in itself. The important thing to remember is you do not need to travel to find yourself.

Finding yourself is an internal journey. Not an external one. But if it’s an internal journey, that means you can do it anywhere. That’s a pretty exciting premise. Usually the fears associated with travel and financial risk are part of what you need to transcend anyways, so why not feed two birds with one seed? 

Journaling

As you travel, a travel journal with guided prompts is essential to your self-reflection. The Wakeful Travel Journal provides adequate blank pages for your own prompts, but also gives you a little help by providing prompts that will assist in your introspective journaling. Journaling is a great way to organize your thoughts on the page and witness them in a physical, tangible way. This way you can track your progress and better begin to understand the patterns that may be present in your life.

Reading

Reading is a great exercise because the words on the page mirror back things about yourself and help inform your current life lessons. I’ve found a lot of times in life the right books find you at the right time, but here a few books that I wish had found me sooner:

a girl takes a photo of a busy street in asia

Some Favourite Self-Discovery Quotes 

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


“Intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


“When love beckons to you, follow him. Though his ways are hard and steep.”

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet 


“Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.

But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart's knowledge.

You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.

You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.

And it is well you should.

The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea;

And the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.

But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;

And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.

For self is a sea boundless and measureless.

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.”

Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.” Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.”

For the soul walks upon all paths.

The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.

The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.”

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet


"I learned that you can fail at what you don't love, so might as well do what you love." 

Jim Carrey, Commencement Address at the 2014 MUM Graduation


"Now Fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about the pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what's happening here in the decisions we make in this moment that are either based in Love or Fear. So many of us choose our path out of Fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect so we never dare to ask the Universe for it. I'm saying I'm the proof that you can ask the Universe for it. Please."

Jim Carrey, Commencement Address at the 2014 MUM Graduation

a woman meditating on a pink striped blanket

Self Discovery Prompts and Journaling Exercises

Whether you are an avid blogger, using your DIY travel journal, or your nifty Wakeful Travel Journal, here a few self-discovery prompts and exercises to help with your learning and unlearning of who you are:

  1. Write about a time when you felt powerful. How do you feel remembering it? Have you felt like that since then? Try to list the catalysts leading up to that initial feeling. List both tangible and intangible items.
  2. List what you believe to be essential to your happiness. Cross off anything that is external (material or otherwise) and see what is left. If nothing remains, brainstorm new ways to appreciate where you currently are in your inner journey to self discovery.
  3. Make a list of what you like and dislike about yourself. Next to the things you dislike, counter each statement with a complementary self-love rebuttal. Focus on acceptance and appreciation instead of a desire to change that aspect of yourself. 

Spiritual Self Discovery Questions 

If you already consider yourself a spiritual person, you can delve a bit further into your psyche with these deep questions:

  1. When I meditate, how do I feel? Do I feel more in alignment with what I consider to be my authentic Self or do I get frustrated by distractions?
  2. When do I feel most at peace with myself? How do I maintain that feeling of peace in my life more consistently?
  3. Who am I? (Try to not limit yourself to your given name, experiences, and bodily form as metrics of your identity.)

a red headed woman stares off into a valley of mountains

How Wakeful Travel Supports You On Your Self Discovery Mission?

Whether it’s our inclusive community, vulnerable blog posts, or your very own travel companion, The Wakeful Travel Journal, Wakeful Travel longs for nothing more than to assist in your journey back to your most authentic Self. 

Imagine Wakeful Travel as the friend you long for to help you take that leap of faith into the unknown. The best things in life are scary, but you are never alone. There’s a million people going through the same thing as you. We are all just recycling universal truths together.

Most of the things that appear scary are only scary because your mind wants you to stay in your comfort zone. It knows if you do the thing you actually want to do, that it may not hold the power anymore. Step into your power, you magnificent unicorn! Don’t let Fear keep you from experiencing the life you know is out there waiting for you. All it takes is the conscious decision to start today. Don’t worry if it doesn’t happen overnight, because it won’t. You are a human being. You don’t always have to be a human doing. Try to go easy on yourself, practice self-acceptance, and enjoy each moment you are given.

Because after all, that’s all there really is.

Read more

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