This section involves self-discovery of various domains in your life that are based on your present needs apart from what you internalized from your relational and cultural dynamic during development. It is important to reflect on the answers as they resonate with you at a body and emotional level in the experiential moment. It may not make sense and you may feel conflicted about the answers, but the point of the exercise is to find out what registers at an emotional level for you.
You may be so used to and conditioned to ‘liking’ something because it was the norm, or expected of you. There may have been threats of ostracization if you did not fit the mold. This is not to say that cultural integration is a bad thing at any level because some activities and traditions can unite, but it seems important to differentiate between what is intrinsically valued and what is imposed on us by cultural or societal norms that impact our well-being whether these be at the micro (e.g., family) or macro level (community and country).
Take at least a minute if not more to reflect on each question. Elaborate and delineate as much as possible. The richer the contemplation the better sense you will get of the answers that you seek for better self-discovery. This is an ever evolving process as your needs may change based on your particular circumstances.
Values & Goals. The Backbone of Self-Discovery
- Who or what is important to you in your life? Begin to reflect on what actually resonates with you at a feeling level. There will likely be automatic counter thoughts that arise, such as: it’s not practical, that’s silly, that’s a waste of time. This, and all the exercises in this chapter can take a long time because there are many preconceived beliefs that you need to consider as you explore. When you find something that seems important, don’t stop there. Try to assess what the core need of what is important is under the specific example. When you have contemplated this, see if there is an even deeper core need below the layer you just peeled away. Continue exploring and peeling the layers away to find the core needs until you cannot find any more for that specific example. Move on to the exploring the next value when you have sufficiently analyzed the previous one.
- If you had enough money to never need to work again, how would you spend your time?
- Who did you want to be as a kid? What gives you joy or interest even if it seems silly.
- If you could wave a magic wand and do or have anything, what would that look like? Keep investigating ‘why’ for every reason that you have and contemplate the core need at the extent you can ask ‘why’.
- What is your happiest memory or memories? Also contemplate why this is and look for the foundational reason why it made you happy, such as core needs of safety, satisfaction, connection with others, or meaning. Be specific.
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
- What feels worthy to you if you were to imagine looking back on your life and you had made the most of life? What would making the most of life look like if you were completely self-discovered? Be specific in describing this. For example, what making the most out of life looks like for me if I were to look back at the end of life, it would be to guide my son to thrive in life, be a nurturing and loving husband, be a strong yet strategic advocate for what I feel is right and for those I love, provide the world with a guide on how to help them truly achieve happiness, peace of mind, and harmony with others to make a lasting impact on humanity, and explore and enjoy the many delicacies, leisure, and beautiful aspects of the different cultures – seeing and exploring the good in people and places. So, now start to explore:
- What do you want your life to look like in 5 years?
- What do you want your life to look like in 10 years?
- What do you want your life to look like in 25 years?
- What do you want your life to look like in 50 years?
- What qualities, characteristics and abilities do you like in other people or in general?
- Who are your role models (or people/qualities you admire), and why specifically?
- Who is someone you consider a real-life hero and why?
- Which abilities and qualities are most valued by the people you come into contact with? Now, which are most valued by people you most value (which may not be those whom you come into contact with frequently)? The people whom we surround ourselves with influence how we see and behave in the world which is a big part of self-discovery. Automatic acculturation occurs even in sub-groups within a population, such as friend groups. Who are the people you surround yourself with? Do they emulate the qualities that you value? Are you with them for the connection? If you already felt connection and support, would you still be with them for their quality of character and healthy companionship?
- How would your role models act and carry themselves? Act as if.
- Who do you trust the most and why? For example, those whom I trust the most are those who speak their mind even when it is not popular, yet are still compassionate and caring. I know that they will not be easily swayed by the crowd and this provides a sense of safety, and in turn, connection.
- What do you like the most about yourself? This is a difficult question for most partly because it is not polite to do this, and also for the reason we tend to see the negative and thus criticize.
Find Opportunities For Self-Discovery
- Who do you wish you had a better relationship with, and what might make it just a little bit better?
- What lessons in your life did you learn the hard way? If these were to happen again, how could you deal with the situation more adaptively (we often repeat similar themes unless a change in approach takes place)?
- What did you learn today?
- Who did you love today?
- What have people said they like in you?
- In what area do others consult you in?
- What are you an expert at? Self-discover what are you not an expert at in which you have recurring difficulties in life? How could you apply the strengths you assessed to those areas of weakness you also identified?
- Where is/would your favourite place(s) be on Earth?
- Where do you feel the most safe and why?
- What real or imaginary things were your favourite as a Child and, are as Adult:
- Nature & Weather
Reflect and self-discover what would you do differently in your life if you knew no one would judge you? Come up with as many different examples as possible. Now, assess each one and determine if it would be based on a short-term satisfaction, or a long-term value.
- What would you like to do in life that gives you a sense of pride?
- Who inspires you in your work/education/hobbies?
- What impact do you want to leave on the world?
- What is a long-term endeavour that improves the world in some way?
Self-Discovery of Motivation
- Which interests or hobbies did you feel a zest for in your life (at any time) – particularly as a child?
- What is/was your best and most enjoyable subject in school?
- What makes you excited about life?
- What step can you take today in order to move an inch closer to moving toward what is meaningful to you?