Path to Self Discovery
The path to self-discovery begins before you are even aware of it. Hopefully, it continues throughout your life. But, in the beginning, that self-discovery starts with realizing that you can affect the environment around you.
You cry, fuss, fidget, and something happen, usually in the form of a person picking you up or feeding you. Those discoveries continue to you modifying your world, pushing blocks over after you stacked them up (very cool, cause and effect). Eventually, you begin to explore abstractly and use your words to explore and question.
That is the beginning of the teenage years. According to those of my friends who are parents, teenagers are usually questioning everything at this stage. You question what your parents taught you, the beliefs, the rules, etc. You are trying to find yourself, and asking questions is the first step.
Those questions continue into your adult life, except instead of asking them outward, you tend to ask them of yourself. You may share with close friends and family to get an outsider’s perspective on what you are thinking. For example, you question whether you like your job or want to date instead of challenging your curfew.
We begin to think more about the future. Where do you want to be someday, where do you want to live, and so on. Your ability to think about and imagine the future is unique to human beings. Congratulations, you are a human being!
What will you do with that unique ability to envision your future? I genuinely believe that a big part of predicting the future is looking at yourself (and if it isn’t, then it should be). When you look at yourself, what do you see? Do you like what you see?
Who Do You See?
I think, unfortunately, that many of us don’t like the person that we see staring back at us. It is okay. It is not the end of the world. I know the person staring back at me last year wasn’t me. It wasn’t the person I wanted to be, doing what I wanted to do.
Sometimes, I wasn’t sure who that person was staring back at me. People that know me are going to read this and be shocked. And your friends and family will be too. Do you know why?
Here is a little not-so-secret –we are all so great and telling people how extraordinary our lives are. Even if our lives are falling apart, we never want to admit, even to ourselves and others, that we are struggling. That happens because we don’t like where we are in our lives.
I Didn’t Like Me
I will dive deeper into that last part if you don’t mind. But, I think you must understand how where I was last year was not such a good place. I was always working, even on vacation, and I never stopped.
I was what most people would call that successful, but I wasn’t feeling it. I was miserable, very quick to anger, and lashed out at those closest to me. Of course, my husband took the brunt of that.
The sad thing is that I couldn’t stop myself. It’s like an out-of-body experience. I could see that I was picking a fight with my hubs even though my anger had nothing to do with him. It had everything to do with me.
It was a dark time for me.
After one of my outbursts, he turned to me and said that I needed to seek professional help. He told me that I was in such a bad place that he couldn’t help me out of it.
I knew what he was said to be the truth. At that moment, that was my truth. At that moment, I had two choices. Either I could own my truth and change it, or I could keep running from it, which would be my downfall.
I chose to own it. It was a very bitter pill to swallow. I had to take that deep breath (okay, I took many deep breaths) and look hard at my life. I did not like where I was in life, and I did like who I was. So I started in therapy and on medication for anxiety and depression.
Truth But Not
A big part of my truth is that I have tried to fit myself into what others (friends, family, society) told me I should be for most of my life. They told me what success looked like, and I went out and made myself successful. But, I was miserable (hence that very dark place I was in).
I realized I was trying to squeeze myself, a multi-dimensional peg, into a one-dimensional hole. No matter how much I turned and twisted myself, it was the most uncomfortable feeling, even when I thought I had figured out how to morph myself to fit comfortably in that hole. I would fit in for a bit, and then over time, I would realize that I didn’t fit there.
You probably think I wasted so much time trying to make myself fit. You know, for a while, I did too. What I realize now is that I was on a journey. My journey is different from yours, and your journey will be different from someone else’s. And that is okay.
Please take a moment to pause your world, breathe deep, and let your mind take you where it will. Within that moment, when you are calm, you will see your truth. Then, if you want a little nudge, I will tell you what helped me focus my thinking.
It is a question in Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s book The ONE Thing (which, if you have not read, I highly recommend). That question is, “What is the ONE Thing you want your life to be about more than any other?”
What did you answer? Did you start smiling once you thought of it? Were you surprised by your answer? Keep asking yourself questions until you narrow it to that answer. Follow that rabbit hole. It’s okay; you are exploring.
There are no right or wrong answers here. This path of exploration is for you. See where it takes you. You will be uncomfortable throughout the entire process, and it is so worth it.
This process is a lot of work. My blog is Simple Successes, not Easy Successes, for a reason. I am still on that path that I started over a year ago. I plan on being on this path until the very end. It hasn’t been easy. It isn’t easy now, even as I write this.
Do you know what the best part is? Once I post this, I will have done something I have wanted to do my entire life. How amazing is that?