Do you feel like being yourself is hard? Here are some tips to help you discover (and love) your authentic self.
If you feel like you’re lost and aimlessly wandering through life, listen up—I’ve been there, done that.
I’m 23 now, and for the first 22 years of my life, I was a people pleaser. Instead of catering to my own wants and needs, I did things to make other people happy.
My identity got lost in the mix. I was depressed for years because I felt like my life didn’t have meaning.
I had passion. It was like a little voice in my head that kept telling me the right direction to go in, but I didn’t listen to it. I was too busy making other people happy. I kept trying to mold myself into the person they wanted me to be.
And then, about a year ago, I got serious about taking ownership of my life. I grabbed the steering wheel from the people who I subconsciously allowed to control me, and I veered it back in the right direction.
I spent many years trying to fulfill other people’s dreams for my future, and I wish I could have those years back. If I could do it over again, I would have spent that time on self-discovery.
I’m not a people pleaser anymore. Now, I’m focused on continuously growing, learning more about myself, and falling in love with life. I’m creating my life for myself, and that’s it.
I always hear people say, “Practice self-love! You gotta learn to love yourself!”
I’m all for the self-love club, but I also recognize that it might be difficult to love yourself if you’re not sure who you are to begin with.
That’s why self-discovery is so worthwhile. As you learn more about yourself, your life purpose will become clearer.
If you know who you are, you’ll have a better idea of which direction to go in. Of course, nothing in life is certain. You won’t be absolutely positively sure of anything. But if you have a strong sense of identity, you’ll feel a pull in the right direction. Your instincts will guide you.
So, are you ready to find your identity so you can practice self-love in meaningful ways? Keep reading for seven tips to help you.
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1. Ask yourself questions.
Think about this. If you wanted to get information from someone else, wouldn’t you just ask a question?
Self-discovery works the same way. You can learn more about yourself by asking yourself questions. Here are some examples:
- What do I enjoy doing?
- What makes me the happiest?
- What do I love the most about myself?
By answering questions like these, you’ll get a better understanding of who you are and where you should go in life.
I’m sure you’ve heard people say “do what you love” or “do what makes you happy.” In some cases, those things are easier said than done, but it’s still a starting point to find your path in life.
Even simple questions can be powerful!
2. Define your personal values.
What are personal values? Put simply, they’re things that matter to you. Because personal values come from the core of who you are, they help you make important decisions in life.
Defining your personal values might seem daunting at first, but don’t worry. I’ve broken it down into a simple process for you:
How to define your personal values
1. Get a sheet of paper and a pen.
You’ll want to write this down!
2. Write your answers to the following questions:
(Yup, I’m throwing more questions at you!)
- What is one of your proudest moments?
- What inspires you?
- What makes you feel the most alive?
- What makes you sad?
- What makes you angry?
- What is one thing you regret?
- What do you wish were different about the world?
You can also come up with your own questions if you want to. All the questions I listed above are meant to remind you of times when you felt emotion. Good or bad, your emotional responses to situations will point to your core values.
3. Reread your responses and try to pull your values out of your experiences.
Here are some examples:
Let’s take the question, “What is one thing you regret?” If one of your biggest regrets is a time you lied to someone important in your life, you can infer that honesty is one of your personal values.
Now, let’s answer the question, “What makes you feel the most alive?” If you love traveling more than anything in the world, adventure is probably one of your values.
4. Create a separate list of your values.
It can be as long as you want. However, if you end up with a super long list, you may want to see if you can combine some of your values together into one word or phrase.
For example, “kindness” and “helping others” could be combined into “compassion.”
Make sure you save your final list of values once it’s done! Put it in a place where you’ll look at it often. You can refer back to it when you’re facing a difficult life situation or decision.
3. Start a self-discovery journal.
Journaling is one of the best ways to learn about yourself!
When you journal, you get your thoughts and feelings out onto paper. You also create a record you can refer back to later.
Revelations about your identity may not come to you immediately. It might take days, weeks, or even months of contemplation to uncover the most telling insights about yourself.
That’s why keeping a record in the form of a journal is so important. You can reread your journal entries and reflect upon them whenever you want to.
Some people like freewriting in their journal. You can do that, or you can use specific prompts to guide you. I’ve written several articles about journal prompts, which you can check out here:
- 55 Gratitude Journal Prompts for Positive Thinking
- 25 Journal Prompts for Self-Care and Self-Love
- 125 Journal Prompts for Personal Growth
- 10 Journal Prompts for Self-Reflection
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4. Learn to love yourself the way you are.
Like I mentioned earlier, it might feel difficult to love yourself if you aren’t sure of who you are.
But it could also be the other way around. You might not have a strong sense of identity if you don’t love yourself for who you are.
Self-discovery is a continuous process. It’s not supposed to be easy. Your identity is constantly evolving, so you’ll learn new things about yourself every day.
The key is to discover who you are in this present moment and love that person unconditionally.
Don’t worry about who you were in the past. Trust me, I do not like the person I used to be. I made mistakes, hurt people, and did things I wish I could forget about.
Instead of lamenting over things that have already happened, I choose to be a better person today. I choose to love the person I am in this present moment.
You’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. Nobody is. But the great news is that you don’t have to be perfect to practice self-love. Self-love and personal growth go hand in hand. If you love and accept yourself for who you are today, you’ll be in the right mindset to improve yourself tomorrow.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others.
The comparison game is dangerous, and it’s not worth your energy.
You have this beautiful gift of life. Be grateful for it. It’s easy to get jealous and compare what you have to what someone else has, but that will only cause stress.
Instead of becoming obsessed with other people’s lives, enjoy your own. Strive to improve it. It’s yours, and you can do whatever you want with it.
You’ll be a lot happier if you focus on your own life instead of wishing you had someone else’s.
6. Spend less time on social media.
Since I’m a blogger, you might think that I spend all day on social media. And to be honest with you, that’s not the case.
I actually avoid spending too much time on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms. One of my recent blog posts is on 15 productive things to do instead of mindlessly scrolling.
If you’re feeling lost in life and you spend hours scrolling through social media every day, I suggest you cut back. Why? Because you’re spending too much time focusing on other people, and you’re not dedicating enough time to yourself.
I get it. It’s easy to get lost in the feed, looking at pretty photos of travel destinations, nice houses, attractive people, delicious food… but scrolling through your phone isn’t living life. You’re living vicariously through other people.
I’m not against social media by any means. As a blogger and marketing professional, I use it every day. But from my experience, I got a better grasp on my identity and life purpose when I put my phone down and started focusing on my goals.
What you see on social media isn’t reality, anyways. It’s just pieces of a bigger picture, often warped and distorted to come across a certain way online. Little square photos can’t possibly tell the whole story.
Don’t worry about other people’s lives. Instead, live your own!
7. Live in the moment.
I’ve said this in so many of my articles, but I can’t stress it enough. Live in the now!
There’s potential in every moment, but you can’t take advantage of it if you’re constantly worried about the past or future.
We all have dreams. We all have hope for a better future. But the thing is, you won’t be able to achieve your goals unless you take the right actions now, in this present moment, to get to where you want to go.
That’s why it’s so important to practice mindfulness and focus on the present. You’ll be more relaxed, productive, and successful if you do.
If you have a lot of anxious thoughts, or you often catch yourself worrying about the past or future, try some mindfulness exercises. Here are examples:
- Meditate for 15 minutes.
- Stretch every morning when you wake up.
- Go for a walk in nature.
- Stop multitasking. Only do one thing at a time.
- Bring your full attention to every task you do.
- Color in an adult coloring book.
Make the most of every moment!