A journey of self-discovery is also one of self-enquiry, so the more information we gather about ourselves, the clearer we become about who we are.
When we are looking for a partner, we ask everything about them—their likes and dislikes.
We want to know every detail—what excites them, what puts a smile on their face, what makes them tick. We are curious about the books they read and which movies they watch. We crave acquainting ourselves with everything that makes them who they are.
However, when it comes to ourselves, we presume we know it all, without dedicating enough time and effort to research ourselves. We allow the world to judge us and apply titles that don’t describe our true selves. We end up being tagged and isolated in a compartment that stops us from finding out our true aspirations.
What were we like when we were growing up?
What interests or practices do we completely lose ourselves in?
What are our strengths and weaknesses?
And most importantly, what are our aspirations—how do we imagine our lives?
Often, the quickest way we get to know ourselves is when we face a traumatic situation, when our backs are against the wall or when we are thrown into the deep end at a new job. Our ego is cast aside as we are forced to quickly learn about ourselves and handle the emergency at hand.
But most of the time this is not the case, and we need to be proactive—stirring the pot to start discovering who we truly are by simply asking meaningful questions about ourselves.
“Know Thyself.” ~ inscription in the temple of Apollo at Delphi, almost 3000 years ago
I’ve found that when we take off a few days to sit alone and analyze ourselves, we get to know a lot about ourselves and kick-start an adventure of self-discovery that lasts a lifetime.
These are some tests and questions to start the process of self-discovery.
1) Do a Personality test.
The Myers-Briggs test is a way to analyze our personality—it’s been used extensively in the corporate world for almost 50 years now and gives us a fair idea of who we truly are.
When I finally took the Myers-Briggs personality test and found out I was an INTJ–an introverted thinker who needs a lot of time alone to be able to recharge my batteries.
That was in complete contrast to how I was living, and it banished the thought that I was weird and different. I finally understood why I craved solitude, even though I could be quite extroverted in small doses.
2) What are our strengths?
Positive Psychology has dominated our lives for the last few decades—it’s simply the study of what makes us happy and shows us which activities we can do more of, to infuse that spark in our lives.
Martin Seligman, founding father of Positive Psychology, insists on finding our strengths and maximizing them. We should work to discover our strengths and try to find ways to activate them in our lives. In contrast we should not focus and glorify our weaknesses, but just manage them.
His now famous VIA Signature Strengths Test has been completed by millions.
My top strength turned out to be my love of learning—I’m continually happy to be learning, even in my mid-40s. My second strength is the curiosity I have for the world, which validates my longing to travel and to seek everything the world has to offer. My third strength is wisdom, which comes as no surprise since my first existential questions started when I was 10 years old.
3) Discover our core values?
Values are core beliefs that we have developed over the years. They are the ethics that we feel strongly about and find ourselves arguing for in conversations. Core values drive us from the minute we open our eyes, until we go to sleep.
Our beliefs are complicated by our upbringing, society and the effect of media—as such we need to dig deep to discover our true values. We should avoid aligning ourselves with values that help us fit in with our peer group rather than what feels authentic to us.
I’ve found the E-book, Aligning with Your Core Values by Tim Brownson, useful in identifying my values.
My values include self-control, growth, freedom, wisdom, inner peace, creativity and authenticity.
4) Who do you look up to? Who are your mentors? Who inspires you?
I appreciate social entrepreneurship and what it offers to the world because it covers most of my values. I’m always inspired by ingenious people who imagine ways to give back to society.
Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize, provided microcredit loans to those in need to help them develop financial self-sufficiency in developing countries like his home country, Bangladesh.
I also admire my late grandfather who acted like a modern day Robin Hood, asking the wealthy for money and buying essential food and personally delivering it to all the poor and homeless in Tyre, Lebanon. He always wore the same clothes, drove an old car and continued doing this well into his 80s.
5). What makes you happiest in your life? What excites you? What do you do that makes you feel invincible?
When I’m sitting alone, and I’m writing, it comes naturally and deep from my heart—I know my words will touch many, that is when I’m my happiest.
I believe in the inspirational power of words. When I see people inspired to change and claim their authenticity, that makes me feel invincible.
6) What careers do you dream of?
I dream of impacting the world with my writing like Rumi, Kahlil Gibran and Ernest Hemingway. Their immortal words touch people’s hearts, affecting generation after generation. Their writings are a pathway to reach our soul, and that’s the path I want to take in my life.
7) If you were able to attend your own funeral, what would you want to hear people say?
I want people to say that I’ve inspired many to find their true path—the long road back to their hidden inner being. I want to be remembered for leading the authenticity revolution amidst the clamor.
I want to be known for waking people up to the simple fact that it’s not always about the money, the success and accumulation of possessions and achievements.
“Man must accept the person they truly are to become who they must be.” ~ Abraham Maslow
Author: Mo Issa
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock