The journey of self-discovery begins when you learn how to find yourself, your true self. Suppose you’ve recently experienced a trauma, a break-up, or a terminal illness recovery. In that case, you might’ve felt like you’ve lost a part of who you are. You might be feeling like you’re living in the shadow of who you used to be. While it’s important to remember that people change and evolve all the time, there’s still a true you in there. Sometimes, we repress it to fit in better or because certain people shut off elements of ourselves. If you’ve ever felt this way before, there are some things you can do to help you master how to find yourself. So, let’s chip away the pieces to discover your true self.
How to Find Yourself: 13 Ways to Discover Your True Self
1. Try everything
On your journey to discovering how to find yourself, you need to challenge yourself in new ways. Most people think they know what they like or don’t like without trying it. That’s not possible. Sometimes, we think we’ll love something only to do it and realize it’s not really our thing. We sometimes refuse to try something for decades only to discover that we love it, missing out on years of enjoyment. Make a list of hobbies, foods, countries, and more. One by one, check them all off. Try everything at least once. You might find a natural talent for a hobby. A new meal could become your favorite. A nation could be home to cultures or rituals that you adopt.
2. Practice meditation
To discover your true self, you need to practice meditation. Having moments of solitude with you and your thoughts allows you to realize which ideas have gone overboard and where your real self is. To begin, you might choose to start with a guided meditation. However, as you become a master of meditation, you might start to do unguided meditations that allow you to find yourself without a guide.
Many people think meditation is woo-woo. However, not all meditations are. So, find the meditation that’s a good fit for you. If you’re looking for a non-spiritual meditation, you could download the Declutter The Mind app or watch meditation videos on YouTube.
Some people experience epiphanies during meditation, kind of how people think of their best ideas in the shower. Sometimes, all you need is a moment of clarity, which meditation gives you. When you calm the mind, the brain is able to tell you who you are at your core. And you can learn how to find yourself through meditation.
3. Do daily good deeds
Acts of kindness and good deeds can help you uncover how to find yourself. Most people wear masks that hide their true identity. The masks that shield us from the true self are typically created by trauma, loss, pain, and suffering. However, if you want to instantly transform your life all you need to do is spread kindness in all actions. It’s the most effective way of overcoming emotional pain.
Helping others is the mission we’re all put on this planet for. However, we often get distracted by shiny objects or our suffering. You can make a difference on this planet simply by doing a good deed every day. For example, you might buy a coffee for someone behind you in line. Wishing someone a happy birthday costs nothing but makes people feel special. Writing and reading a heartfelt letter to all your loved ones about why you appreciate them will always make them feel good. Offering someone moral support when they’re having a hard time can help too.
You’ll find your true self through kindness because, at our core, we’re compassionate beings. Sometimes, our pain makes us forget this.
4. Note all your skills
On your journey towards how to find yourself, make a note of all your skills and talents. Throughout your life, you’ve accumulated talents that you’re aware of. Make a list of them. Then, write down which ones you enjoy and which ones you don’t. Do you get into a flow state for any of them? That means you lose track of time while doing them because you immerse yourself in them fully. Often, when you get lost in an interest or hobby, it’s a clearcut sign that you thoroughly enjoy it. If you want to like something but don’t, you won’t become obsessed with it. You won’t be able to lose track of time doing it. Instead, you’ll quickly determine what you’re truly passionate about by naming the skills and talents you enjoy doing. You might affirm yourself by saying, “I am a violinist,” or “I am a runner.”
5. Picture your future self
When you picture your future self, who do you imagine yourself as? Keep in mind that you don’t want to confuse the difference between yourself and who you want to be. Sometimes, in our imagination, a better version of ourselves seems wonderful, but if we were to be that person, in reality, we wouldn’t find enjoyment in it. As you grow older, you will change too. You’ll have discovered new ways of living and new things you enjoy. What do you aspire to learn or grow into? If you have a strong desire to learn a specific skill or live a particular lifestyle, it could indicate what type of person you aspire to be. As a result, it may show who your true self is at the core.
6. Write in a journal
Those who’ve spent a lifetime writing in a journal can quickly flip through the pages of their life to see the experiences that shaped them and the emotions they’ve experienced. Journal prompts can help guide you into what aspects of your life to share. If you ever plan on writing an autobiography, having a collection of journal entries will allow you to tell your story as accurately as possible. You can find yourself in all your journal entries. You’ll see which elements are recurring themes in your life. You can also notice how you overcome obstacles and what type of fighter you are.
7. Spend time alone
You can be happily married without losing yourself in a relationship. Being in a significant relationship with another person doesn’t make you lose yourself. So, let’s make that point clear. However, when we’re in a relationship with someone we’re not compatible with, we often make adjustments to our life to make a match out of something that doesn’t fit quite right. It’s easy to lose yourself if you have to compromise yourself to make a relationship work.
If you are looking to learn how to find yourself in the aftermath of a break-up or a long-lasting relationship, take some time to yourself. Go out of your way to do specific activities alone. Not in a mean-spirited way, but simply with curiosity. As you begin to do activities you enjoy doing alone, bring your partner in to join you if they’re interested in exploring this hobby with you. Remember, happy couples can enjoy activities separately and still have functional relationships. For example, one person might play guitar while another enjoys making floral arrangements. But also, happy couples shouldn’t be afraid of bringing their partner into their hobbies if they ask.
8. Remember you have your whole life
Sorry to break it to you, but there isn’t going to be an aha moment in your self-discovery journey where you exclaim, “I have found myself!” It’s simply an ongoing process that you uncover throughout your entire life. If you knew who you were early on, you’d eventually get bored. And with unlimited hobbies, topics, books, and more, there are infinite possibilities of what you would like and who you could become.
There might be aspects of yourself, which you learned about yourself at a young age. However, there’s so much still to uncover about your true self. You could spend your whole life learning who you are. So, don’t feel like you need to stop everything and find yourself. That’s not how it works. You can add new things into your life to uncover details. Meet new people. Explore new countries. Just put yourself out there and learn something new about yourself as often as possible.
9. Look at the relationships you attract
The people you attract into your life can indicate the type of person you are. If you attract toxic people, you’re likely to be a helper. If you attract happy people, you might be a positive and sunny person. People who are blunt or direct might polarize people.
Ultimately, the people attracted to your personality will show you what kind of person you are. The type of person you attract doesn’t indicate if you’re a good or bad person. That’s not the point of this exercise. Most people are a combination of good and bad anyway. Even people considered toxic are typically those who have unresolved trauma. They might have good intentions, but their pain gets in the way. So don’t add a good person or bad person label to yourself. Instead, look for the personality trait.
10. Separate your thoughts from yourself
While meditation can help a ton with separating your thoughts from yourself, so can cognitive-behavioral therapy. We can think of thousands of thoughts in a day. Just because we think it doesn’t mean we’ll act on it nor that we need to identify with it.
Don’t confuse your thoughts with who you are. If you’re looking to discover how to find yourself, you’ll likely think about it. However, thoughts aren’t always a reliable source of information. Your negative thoughts can be transformed into happy thoughts with cognitive behavioral therapy. Thoughts are simply meaningless. Don’t let your inner critic and ruminating thoughts trick you into thinking you’re something you’re not. You are not your thoughts.
11. Be comfortable being different (don’t care what others think)
There are times when we have a good idea of who we are, but we’re afraid to come out and let that person shine through by being different. People who belong to minority groups tend to have the most challenging time with this. It’s okay if you’re made a little bit different. We all are. Most people pretend to be just like everyone else instead of being authentic to who they are.
If you’re looking to find yourself, be open to the possibility that you’re a one-of-a-kind gem. Don’t care what other people think of you. Own who you are. Respect yourself enough to be yourself. So, instead of starting an inner war with yourself, wondering, “what is wrong with me?” accept that you’re different. The world needs your uniqueness to complete it. So, let the real you shine through.
12. Partner with a mentor
If you’re on your journey to learn how to find yourself, consider partnering with a mentor. You could find a therapist, a life coach, an older adult in your family, or anyone with some life experience. You don’t need to see the person every week to learn some insights. Even a session or two can help give you a direction to go in.
You could also connect with someone who is successful or lives a life you want for yourself. Ask them if they’re happy with the life they had. Some people might say they have an attitude of gratitude, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Don’t idolize the person you get mentored by. No one has a perfect life. The goal isn’t to transform into someone else but to find your true self.
13. Examine your bucket list
Have you ever written a bucket list? You might find a few elements of who you are within it. If you’ve added a lot of adventurous activities, you might be an adventurous person. People who add a lot of acts of kindness to their list might be passionate about helping people. Those who add a mix of activities, variety is their spice of life.
Remember that as you complete your bucket list, you might find that you didn’t enjoy things you thought you were supposed to like. That’s good too! It helps you find yourself in the most honest way possible. It’s normal to learn that you’re not interested in everything you thought you would be.
You have your whole life to find yourself. Take risks, challenge yourself in new ways, overcome adversity, and live your life to the fullest. As you uncover how to find yourself, focus on enjoying the process. It’s an area of life you get to explore and learn in great detail. Don’t add labels to yourself but recognize that you’re a mixture of good and bad, quirky and changeable personality traits, and a growing collection of interests and hobbies. What’s the first thing you plan on doing to discover your true self?