“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” — May Sarton

We as humans are curious creatures. We explore, invent, discover and compose. But when it comes to knowing ourselves we are unfortunately lagging.

There are different expressions you might have come across in your readings about self-growth. Some call it the “fear of success”, while others term it as the “fear of failure”. However, I would like to name it the “Fear of Exploring Yourself”.

Now I am using the phrase “Exploring Yourself’ as opposed to “Knowing Yourself”. This is for the reason being that different experiences in your life would require a different version of you and one can’t really ‘know themselves’ unless they have undergone all the encounters and life incidences that shape their existence. Exploring oneself would then be a pre-requisite to know your true self.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” — Marianne Williamson

Deep down inside of us, we all are aware of our light its hidden glory. But its gleam is so bright that we are terrified to embrace it. Instead, we prefer to stand in the distance contemplating, procrastinating, making up excuses and taking solace in the fact that our holy grail is inside of us, within reach, yet unreachable.

We are too scared to dive into that deep ocean, too anxious to unravel and unearth its boundless depths. So we cling to predictability. Certainty and the delusion of control is the only thing that keeps us sane. It is in our very nature to hold on to what is familiar as a way of exercising control over the capriciousness of life. By confirming to others, getting a degree you are not passionate about, getting married, sticking to the job whose satisfaction is worth the paycheque credited every month, we end up shielding ourselves from our magnificence.

Procrastination, perfectionism and not taking risks are the expressions fabricated by someone who is trying to rationalize their avoidance approach for the goals that overwhelm them or burns them with such passion that they are afraid to lose sight of the shores. Yet these burnings are our inner calling that has receded into the depth of our oceans waiting to be discovered.

Logotherapy states that every human contains a will to find meaning and purpose in their life. And those who are aware of this ‘why’ can endure almost any life stressors. The purpose of the existence of human life is not only different for each being, so is the way you stumble upon it. That being said, the sole way to find your motive in life is to explore your true self.

6 Steps to Discover Your True Self

1. Be quiet.

You cannot and will not be able to know yourself until you take the time to be still. Many people don’t know themselves because any sort of silence scares them; it’s too uncomfortable to be alone with every flaw staring back at them. But it isn’t until you get alone, evaluate yourself and are completely truthful with yourself that you will be able to see every facet of your life—the good and the bad. Be quiet and discover your true self.

2. Realize who you truly are, not who you want to be.

I know you already have a set idea of who you desperately want to be, but it might not be who you were designed to be; this is why knowing who you are is so important. When you know who you are, you will finally see where you and your specific gifts fit into the bigger picture.

3. Find what you are good at (and not good at).

This might be the most difficult step in the process of finding who you are, but it’s a necessary one. Sure, it takes trial and error to find what you’re good at, and no, I don’t want you to give up before you’ve had more than enough attempts, but knowing when to quit is a gift that everyone needs to learn.

4. Find what you are passionate about.

Following the passion of any kind is a good thing, and you need to pay attention when it comes because it indicates an area of life that you need to pay more attention to. If we’re talking about following your passion in work, it’s a good thing. And if we’re talking about having more passion for life, it’s a good thing. Focus more on passion; understand yourself in better ways, and you’ll make a bigger impact. Passion produces effort and continuous effort produces results.

5. Ask for feedback.

If you don’t know yourself, hearing what others have to say about you is a helpful practice. Ask them two simple questions: “What strengths do you think I need to develop further?” and “What weaknesses do you think I need to work on?” Of course, their opinion isn’t going to be perfect, but their feedback will probably indicate a few areas you should at least take a second look at. This step is especially important for those who are stuck in finding themselves. Sometimes those closest to us can see something we might not be able to see in ourselves.

6. Assess your relationships.

A large aspect of knowing yourself can be found in your relationships. When you realize you’ll never truly know anyone else until you discover yourself, the importance of knowing yourself becomes even more apparent. This truth especially rings true for business leaders, because if you don’t know the people on your team, then you will be lost as a leader. But this rule also applies to any relationship in your life. Almost as much as you need to know yourself, other people also need to know who you are. People need you—the real you.