What is self-discovery

Self-discovery: 7 tips + 7 exercises for the real you

Who am I? And what do I really want? People have always been concerned with these questions. Self-discovery is balancing the fine line between individuality and conformity, between demarcation and adaptation and therefore anything but easy. Those who remain authentic and autonomous (that is, mentally independent and unadapted) run the risk of being different from everyone else. A dilemma - but a solvable one: How to find yourself and gain mental strength at the same time ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

What is self-discovery?

There are often existential questions behind self-discovery, such as: "Who am I?" "What do I want from life?" "What are my goals?" "Who do I want to be?" "What should you say about me?" the term "self-discovery" unfortunately a bit misleading. The second part - "Finding" - suggests that self-discovery is a kind of goal or a fixed, unchangeable state that needs to be discovered and achieved. Not correct.

In fact, self-discovery describes an ongoing processthat everyone actively pursues for themselves and that moves us forward. Self-discovery always means self-creation. And this includes numerous areas of life that are influenced by it and in turn influence our self and our ideas about ourselves.

When looking at various Zeitgeist guides and psycho blogs, the impression can quickly arise that self-discovery is a young phenomenon in the modern (work) world. A kind of holy grail for all who seek and strive for self-realization, self-determination, self-optimization and self-affirmation. But that's not true.

The term originally comes from developmental psychology. A common definition reads: "Self-discovery describes a process that begins in puberty, through which a person tries to define his or her own idiosyncrasies and goals." This occurs above all in contrast to his environment, society and its influences: "I experience who I am by defining what I am not or how I do not want to be. "

Why self-discovery at all?

Those who haven't found each other often have the feeling that they are in the wrong film. We then lead a life that does not at all fit our ideas about it, our needs, our strengths or goals. It is possible that not even the circle of friends and partners fit in. In short: we are not at peace with ourselves, we do not live our lives and therefore we remain below our potential. The realization makes you feel pretty bad. OK then! This is how most change processes begin - with suffering. In this case, however, it is about a worthwhile development: the path to the true inner self.

The 3 effects of self-discovery

Self-discovery is a key to a happy and content life. Only those who know themselves know who he or she is (at this moment), what he or she really wants (in life), has both feet on solid ground. Self-discovery gives us support and orientation. In addition, the process of self-discovery leads to three notable effects:

1. Those who know each other know about individual strengths

The search for one's own identity and individual goals leads to one's own strengths. Those who deal intensively with self-discovery become more aware of their own talents and abilities and can then appear more self-confident. We have to fool ourselves and others less and less.

2. Those who know each other develop an attitude

The process of self-discovery is at the same time an examination of one's own values. These lead to a clear attitude and thus to an individual profile and character, a "personality". So self-discovery also helps to stand out from the crowd - not only at work.

3. Those who know each other will be happy

Happiness is always individual and depends on dozens of personal factors. But those who do not know themselves cannot be happy because they do not know what happiness means to them. Through the process of self-discovery, you get to know your needs and thus create the conditions for your own personal happiness.


Those who want to find themselves do not have to burden themselves with anything, but rather discard something: the need for confirmation from others.

Self-discovery against social expectations?

Those who set out on the path of self-discovery are looking for their own goals in life and career goals. Ultimately, you will develop your very own individual life model - that with which you (!) Will be happy yourself. However, anyone who embarks on a journey of discovery far away from the trodden paths and social norms quickly encounters limits, reservations and resistance. Can you be completely yourself - even outside the framework of socially accepted norms? Heavy.

We should have corners, but not hard edges! Just don't rebel too much, don't deviate too much. You don't do that! You already notice: Self-discovery cannot work like that. Otherwise you end up like this bon mot: "In search of myself, I often passed by without noticing myself." The search for your own identity and individual needs can only be successful if you meet external expectations and consciously filter and classify influences - and ignore them in case of doubt. Don't be afraid of rejection: it's your life - not anyone else's. Self-discovery is all about you, not external standards.

Self-discovery resists the pressure to adapt

Self-discovery is thus also a process for inner freedom, for intellectual independence and mental strength. Others may accept or tolerate this. But that's exactly what it's about: Self-discovery is the maturation process that lets us stand above it. Or to put it another way: the older you get, the freer you become to live a life that others don't understand. In order to emancipate yourself from it, it helps to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How important is the person who questions my path to me?
  • What is the intention of this or that advisor?
  • Are their goals relevant to me?
  • Does his path coincide with my values?
  • Do I want to be like this - or: Do I want to be like this?
  • Do I have a good feeling about it?
  • Does that make me happy?

We don't see the world as it is; we see the world as we are.

7 tips + 7 exercises for self-discovery

Admittedly, finding oneself is not always easy. And where you are right now, you are probably not (yet) satisfied (otherwise you probably wouldn't be reading this article). In order to find the real you, to learn more about yourself, you will have to move around and go on some kind of journey (sometimes even literally). There's no way around it. And that takes courage. You leave the safe haven of what you know (about yourself) and discover new territory. Do you dare anyway. The following tips and steps can help you enormously and serve as a guide:

Self-discovery Tip 1: Don't compare yourself to others

People are only too happy to compare and measure themselves against others. This is counterproductive for self-discovery: What others think of us, how they rate our behavior, is only an echo, a kind of feedback to ourselves. Those who want to consolidate themselves and their own identity and get to know themselves better should not do this in relation to do to others. The result would be a distorted image. Self-discovery requires letting go of (alleged) standards and the mainstream. Focus entirely on yourself: Your values ​​and needs are the decisive yardstick for self-discovery.


Exercise for this: writing morning pages

So-called morning pages are an even freer and more intuitive form of brainstorming. Let your thoughts run free every morning and write everything down by hand. The aim is to learn more about yourself, your thoughts, desires and needs. By reflecting and analyzing the morning pages in the evening, you will find out what is bothering you and what makes your inner self tick.

Self-discovery tip 2: face your fears

In order to get to know themselves, some must first overcome the fear of possible consequences. This can be the fear of losing face, of a financial crash or other serious events. The bestselling author Tim Ferriss even advises: “Don't just imagine the worst case, create it in a controlled manner. Most of them find out that it's not that bad at all. "


Exercise for this: Think about your own funeral

Sounds macabre, but it can be extremely informative: Fast-forward the time and visualize your own funeral: What have you achieved? What will be left of you? Are you satisfied with this (lived) life? By formulating a kind of obituary for yourself, you will see what you need to change in your life in order to live the life that is within you and that you really want.

Self-discovery tip 3: overcome your limits

The so-called comfort zone is comfortable, but it stands in the way of self-discovery. After all, you are only moving within the limits you have set yourself. What is in them, what they really want, is something that very few people find out in this cozy prison. You don't have to go straight to the Australian jungle and go on an adventure to test your limits. Comfort zones can also be left in everyday life. You will not only grow from the new experiences, but you will also recognize completely new facets in yourself.


Exercise for this: Imagine wealth

For many people, money is a limit. They think you have to get rich before you can make your dreams come true. So ask yourself the € 1 million question: what would you do if you won the lottery today? First, mentally overcome this - apparent - financial limit. Then find out whether it cannot be implemented now. That almost always works. Money doesn't really matter that much!

Self-discovery Tip 4: Build Relationships

You can learn a lot about yourself through conversation and new relationships. Not by conforming or trying to be sympathetic to others. The life plans, priorities and goals of others only serve you as an opportunity for reflection - positive as well as negative. You can use it to measure, question or delimit your own standards. In any case, the relationships help to consolidate self-discovery.


Exercise for this: go traveling alone

Go on vacation - but this time all by yourself. This scares many. They fear either loneliness or boredom. But this is exactly where the challenge lies: Those who travel alone have to open up and approach strangers. This takes some effort, but at the same time creates more self-confidence every time. On top of that, wonderful friendships can develop from it.

Self-discovery tip 5: Be more relaxed

Serenity tames the impotence that rage puts us into and brings back the control of our actions, which takes away blind anger and exploding emotions. Whenever we feel unjustly treated, exploited or betrayed, we threaten to lose control of ourselves. Serenity brings them back - and brings us closer to ourselves again. It is therefore also an important step towards self-discovery. And for better decisions: No matter how fat it gets, your mind remains in control of the situation - and not your feelings.


Exercise for this: breathing and meditating

Blocking stress. In order to become more relaxed, numerous advisors (rightly) recommend relaxation exercises and meditation again and again. Both relieve acute pressure, clear our minds and bring back inner peace. Simple breathing exercises such as the “star breathing technique” (or “4-6-8 method”) often help: while you breathe in deeply, count to four. Hold your breath and count to six. Finally, exhale slowly and count to eight. Repeat this breathing exercise at least five times and notice how you relax.

Self-discovery Tip 6: Take off all masks

The tip is the hardest and requires overcoming. When the self-discovery process has reached this stage and you know who you are and what you want, there would be no point in continuing to play a role in order to please others. You are not! The word “personality” is derived from the Latin term “persona”, which translates as “theater mask”. But self-discovery does not necessarily have to result in self-expression. You shouldn't offend others because of this in order to prove your individuality every time. The world may be a stage and every person on it may be an actor of himself. But we don't have to wear masks. So be conscious of yourself, of what you have found and what you will find further.


Exercise for this: write a NOT list

Anyone who thinks they have to meet expectations should try the following exercise: Write down who or what you are NOT or do not want to become under any circumstances? Perhaps there are also negative examples in your life. Make it clear to yourself which role you do not want to play under any circumstances. And lo and behold: In the demarcation you recognize the actual being. You are not (and will not be) either. You are something else, your own, individual: you.

Self-discovery tip 7: Spend more time yourself

Those looking for themselves should spend more time with themselves. Even if it feels strange at first or even leads to painful insights. Eventually you will discover who you are NOT and what your weaknesses are. In addition, the inner dialogue needs inner calm and solitude. Quite a few shy away from this feeling. Overcome this fear and experiment a little with the feeling. You will discover many new facets in yourself. Make yourself aware: Numerous great poets, thinkers and philosophers have also sought the solitude and the vastness of nature in order to first ventilate their minds, then inspire them. A walk often works wonders.


Exercise for this: sowing new thoughts

The problem with dealing intensively with yourself is that you often stew in your own juice. This is why it is important to ventilate the mind every now and then and plant fresh ideas and thoughts in the head. There are many ways to do this: reading books, having conversations, reading blogs, watching films, attending workshops, hiring a coach, ... Use at least one variant of this so as not to go around in circles. The more often you leave the usual path, the more flexible your thinking and acting will be. And the ideas are bubbling up.



No matter which method, which exercise you choose in the end: It is important that you take the first step towards self-discovery. Preferably today. As I said: the journey is the goal. The process is not always easy, but always rewarding and liberating.

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