10 Questions That Help Reveal Your Authentic Self

10 Questions That Help Reveal Your Authentic Self

authentic self questionsLifestyle

“One of the greatest tragedies in life is to lose your authentic self and accept the version of you that is expected by everyone else.” – K.L Toth

Everybody possesses an ‘authentic self’ – or personal identity. Actually, most people have multiple perspectives on themselves; they possess different self-identities. No, this doesn’t indicate Multiple Personality Disorder – it merely implicates that you’re human.

The deeply entrenched foundations of what constitutes our sense-of-self/selves in thought to be based on nine variables:

Abilities/disabilities (e.g., funny, smart, shy, introverted, extroverted, disabled, etc.)

– Affiliations (e.g., football fan, club/society membership, etc.)

Family relationships (e.g., mother/father, brother/sister, son/daughter, etc.)

– Hobbies (e.g., athlete, collector, gamer, musician, singing, etc.)

Occupation(s) (e.g. doctor, lawyer, plumber, electrician, white collar, blue collar, etc.)

– Quasi-occupation(s) (e.g., helper, volunteer, part-time teacher, etc.)

Salient attributes (e.g. reliable, hard-working, good-looking, dishonest, lazy, etc.)

– Social relationships (e.g. colleague, friend, husband/wife, mentor, etc.)

Spirituality (e.g., Buddhist, Catholic/Christian, Mind-body, Religious Humanism, etc.)

Self-identity is dynamic and malleable, even into adulthood and middle-age. The dynamism of self-identity sharply declines into the later years, though it may still fluctuate. For example, a person who is 60 years old may experience a shift in their spiritual perspectives or quasi-occupational interests.

Sharon Martin, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) explains the evolving process of self-identity:

“Developmentally, we wrestle with ‘finding ourselves’ as teens and young adults. Then we often revisit these questions in middle age. It’s both normal and essential to seek self-understanding. In order to accept ourselves and establish a sense of belonging, we need to understand who we are. A strong sense of self helps us navigate life and brings meaning to our experiences. Without it, we feel ‘lost.’”

Martin lists the four reasons why people experience a loss of identity:

  1. Putting other people’s needs before ours. This behavior can lead to self-neglect and diminished self-worth.
  2. Detachment from our thoughts and feelings. A myriad of distractions exists that may be used to disconnect us from “the world”: alcohol, drugs, food, and even electronics.
  3. Experiencing a life-changing event or transition. Trauma is one example – the death of a loved one, job loss, divorce – these and other circumstances can derail us from our true selves.
  4. Repressing and subsequently “burying” our real selves out of shame, embarrassment, fear, or having been subject to bullying and criticism. We make a conscious or unconscious decision to hide our true selves after such treatment.

Asking Yourself These Questions Every Morning Can Help You Discover Your Authentic Self

If you have a “gut feeling” that some part of you is lost, there is hope. No matter what you’ve gone through, you can still rediscover and reembrace the real you.

With that in mind, we’ve come up with a list of ten questions that may assist you on your path to rediscovery.

1. What is my biggest strength? My biggest weakness?

This may sound like a terrible job interview question, but it’s important to know our abilities and inabilities. Answering these two questions honestly gives us confidence while giving us something on which to improve.

2. What is my proudest achievement? Biggest failure?

Is there something in your life that you can be proud of? For almost everyone, there’s a “yes” answer to this question – even if you have to look a little harder.

What is your biggest failure? More importantly, what have you learned from it? If nothing’s learned, it is not failure but foolishness. Thomas Edison, arguably the greatest inventor in history, once said: “Never say I failed 99 times, say I discovered 99 ways which cause failure!” Be an Edison.

know yourself

3. What am I worried about?

Many people have worrisome thoughts; some allow such worries to dictate their lives. Whatever you’re worried about, write them down. If there’s something that can be done, do it. If it’s something outside of your control, breathe (deeply) – everything will be okay.

4. What do I like to do for fun? Am I making time for fun?

Having fun must be taken seriously – and we’re serious. (Sorry).

Joking aside, Dr. Marc Bekhoff, a renowned evolutionary biologist, states that play is “a banquet for the brain, a smorgasbord for the senses, providing nourishment for body and spirit: sad then that as a society we seem to be starving ourselves of it.”

5. What do I believe in? What are my values?

We’re not talking about religion necessarily, or even spirituality, although most American’s define themselves as either “religious” or “spiritual, but not religious.”

Values and beliefs can be a certain view on politics, God, the Universe, humanity, and so on. Clearly defining your values and beliefs is necessary for a healthy sense of self.

6. What am I interested in but haven’t tried?

Continuous learning and new experiences are two essentials for a happy life. Having hobbies, as mentioned in the initial parts of the article, is also a key element to self-understanding.

7. How are my relationships?

Think about the relationships that you feel are important. How are your social and familial relationships? Is there someone you’ve lost touch with who may want to hear from you? Who do you want to speak with?

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