We get wise by asking questions, and even if these are not answered, we get wise, for a well-packed question carries its answer on its back as a snail carries its shell. – James Stephens
I avoided any form of self-discovery for many years because I considered it a complete pile of old piffle but, as with many things in my life, when nothing else has worked – what’s left?
So, intrepid explorer that I was, I took two whole days to ‘Discover’ myself and reached the conclusion that, although I had now gotten over my childhood dislike of rhubarb, I still harboured a pathological hatred of celery.
Something wasn’t quite right …
Consequently, I ended up doing what I should have done in the first place and read up on the subject – every darned thing I could find so I could have another go. It took a while to get beyond the ‘Old Piffle’ stage and plunge on in and, honestly, it hasn’t exactly been plain sailing. In fact at times it has been far from a bundle of laughs but has enriched my life to the point where I am well able to engage in the practice regularly as well as being entirely confident passing on what I have learned from doing so.
Self-discovery is primarily about asking questions – I think most of us are good at that – What shall I have for dinner tonight? Shall I buy the red dress or the black one? Which do I hate more – rhubarb or celery? And so on …
But, self-discovery takes it one step further with a single question that you tag on – Why?
For it is only by examining the detail of the answers we give that we can start to get to the very essence of who we are – our motivations, values, vision and so on. It can be a truly wonderful tool for, among other things, gaining clarity, removing negativity, healing the past and brightening the future.
I believe that self-discovery involves two whys –
The question why?; and
The reason why?
Generally, answering your question why can help you understand and make good choices as to your reason why, for it is understanding why you think as you do that you can get to grip with the choices behind your reasons.
For example, let’s say that you have asked yourself whether or not you believe in God? If, on careful examination of your thoughts and answers to that question, you have discovered that there is, or you would like there to be, a strong religious element to your life with good reasons for wanting this to be so, then you would ideally need to make this one of your considerations when setting your goals so that they are in alignment with your beliefs – does that make sense?
You could say the same about your values – once you have an understanding of what your values truly are, and why they are such, then success in goals that align with those values is likely to stand a far greater chance than if they don’t. There can, of course, be found exceptions to the many rules but, truly, if you keep your understanding of who you are close by when you are making your choices, then it will help you immensely on your forward path.
One thing you should bear in mind, though – starting to question yourself at a deeper level can feel extremely awkward and quite off-putting, so getting yourself into the questioning habit is essential. How you go about that is entirely up to you but I found picking themes and setting a few questions for each one got me moving along nicely – all you need to remember is to answer fully and be as specific as you possibly can, and do it regularly – I started off by spending fifteen minutes or so every day.
There is no absolute timetable for a journey such as this but getting into a habit of questioning and answering will lay firm foundations for deeper introspection, as and when you feel able, or deem it necessary to move forward.
I hope you will have a potter around Think Self over the coming months but in the meantime here’s a little something to get you started –
Does the thought of engaging in a process of self-discovery fill you with excitement or trepidation?
What do you believe the biggest barrier to your journey of self-discovery is likely to be?
Have a go at jotting down a few reasons for the answer you give – you may surprise yourself!