Cambridge’s Online Dictionary defines self discovery as “the process of learning about yourself and your beliefs”. And so it is a life long journey; one that begins the day you take your first breath. Every day we can learn something new about ourselves through the decisions we make, reactions we have to others, and the beliefs we’ve built along the way. Often there is a catalyst which makes us want to delve deeper into the soul, discover why we behave the way we do, and what it all means.
This is frequently the case with those who’ve had a near death experience or some other life changing happenstance which makes us want to “find” ourselves. As we travel through childhood, we tend to take on beliefs from our parents, friends, teachers, etc. At some point however, we come to an impasse and must decide what resonates best within our own lives based on our own experiences. This process of development is what helps us discover our divine selves, our spiritual beliefs, and our core values. While it’s understandable that we enjoy life while it’s smooth sailing, it’s the choppy waters that spur us into looking deeper to discover what is most important to us and how we truly want to live.
The fields of psychiatry and psychology are loaded with people on voyages of self discovery. Someone who is afflicted with depression or anxiety may seek help from these professionals. Through various modalities of therapy and treatment, the patient is constantly learning about what makes them tick. When they’re able to figure out what situations trigger their symptoms, they’re able to make important decisions about how they want to proceed in alleviating the problem. Often they find that they needed a different way to look at things, or encouragement to get through whatever they felt was blocking their way. Over time, they’ll find what works for them and in so doing, they’ve discovered new things about themselves; new talents, beliefs, and thought processes. They not only find out how to navigate life, but can more clearly see who they want to be, from the inside out.
Just as important as a journey through the mind is the intimate discovery of what nurtures the soul. Spiritual practices the world over help people decide what’s true and important to them. A person who seems to jump from one religion to another, or shows doubt in a certain belief system merely hasn’t found what resonates with them … yet. It may take their whole life to find what really works for them, but they’re learning about themselves with every decision they make and with every new belief they explore. It is helpful and wise to share experiences with like-minded people; we all learn and grow from one another. But in the end, the most important person to ask if there’s true meaning and depth in these studies, is you.
The voyage of self discovery requires awareness. Ask questions everywhere: work, school, home, your place of worship. Then ask more questions and become aware of how you feel about the answers you’re given. Is there a different way to look at the answers? Do they seem to fit what you believe? Why or why not? Ask yourself if your beliefs are truly yours or if you’ve taken on someone else’s beliefs even if they don’t fit right with who you are. There are an infinite number of ways to explore. Walk into any library or bookstore and you’ll find an entire section of self help books. Go online, search for articles, people, and videos which address your questions and interests. Be aware of how you act and react to the people and situations in your life. Do your reactions reflect who and how you want to be? Do you want to make some changes or are you satisfied with how things are right now? Remember, whether the seas are churning or calm there’s always something to be discovered. Bon Voyage!