Discovering the Self

Discovering the Self: Starting Your Journey of Self Discovery

Do you feel like you are lost when it comes to finding out who you truly are? Discovering the self is hard work.

Does it feel like know matter how far you get in your journey of self discovery, that you still feel you’ve not done enough? You are not alone! Keep reading and you will learn how to begin your own journey of self discovery.

As a psychotherapist, I take on the role of a self discovery coach for my patients. This blog allows me to expand my ability to help others beyond my private practice.

So, if you’re reading this post, you can consider me as your own personal self discovery coach. We are going to take a deep dive into finding out who you truly are, if you’re willing to “go there.”

Don’t worry that you might not like the “you” that you discover. That is impossible. When you find and connect to your true soul identity, self-love will come naturally.

The “things” you don’t like about yourself have nothing to do with your true soul identity. That’s because those “things” are results of trauma. Even if you think you don’t have trauma or have very little trauma, this post is still for you.

Discovering the Self

To work on discovering the self, we must first look at who you “think” you are. I promise that is incredibly far from your true soul identity. The person you have believed you are for many years is actually just a result of behaviors you do because of emotional and/or physical trauma. Are you utterly confused now? Stay with me.

Discovering the self is another term for “finding yourself.” Many people think they are on a journey of self discovery because they are searching to find themselves.

Well, let me stop any of you who have done that right now. Discovering the self is not about finding yourself at all! Also, don’t beat yourself up for the unsuccessful ways you have attempted a journey of self discovery.

Instead, discovering the self is actually a return to your true soul identity. You are not lost. Deep down in your subconscious, you know who you are.

My Journey of Self Discovery

Before I guide you in discovering the self, we need to look at how you have strayed so far from your true soul identity. Everybody in the entire world has done this, myself included.

So, I will explain my own journey of self discovery and how I strayed from my true soul identity. That “straying” typically begins when we are very young.

As a little girl, I didn’t get the healthy attention that I needed from my parents. If you relate to that, read my post Emotionally Unavailable Parents.: 5 Steps to Heal.

Please understand that I am not blaming or shaming my parents for that. Sadly, they were never taught how to be emotionally available. They were swimming in beliefs that they were not good enough for anything or anybody in their lives.

That feeling of not being good enough is the entire basis of my blog. I call it Not Good Enough Stuff. Everybody has Not Good Enough Stuff, aka NGES. To learn how NGES is created, click here.

Childhood Trauma and Self Discovery

Now, back to my own path of discovering the self. I learned at an early age, that in order to get attention, I had to make my energy very large. That is ok when it is healthy, but I was far from that.

My mother only seemed to be proud of me when others were giving me attention. So, what did I do with that? I stepped it up.

I became the lead in plays. I was the best “helper” for all of my teachers at school. I was very talkative to new people I met. Hell, I even majored in broadcast journalism in college for so many to see me on tv.

Getting attention seemed to be second nature for me, but that was not my true soul identity. However, it took me many years in my journey of self discovery to realize that.

As a young teen, I had pretty severe depression. That was partly from the trauma I experienced at home. The rest of that depression came from living as somebody I was not.

Somehow, I knew at a very young age that I was always “performing” for others. I say performing because those behaviors were not my true soul identity.

Straying from our True Soul Identity

Depression and anxiety can occur when we are not living according to our true soul identities. Typically, we are not aware of this though.

The older I got, the further I was from starting a journey of self discovery, aka a return to my true soul identity. My behaviors of attention-seeking and portraying an extroverted personality became my identity.

Most people who knew me from a little girl up to my late twenties, would probably tell you that I was extroverted. They saw my behaviors of demanding attention. The other behavior I didn’t mention was lashing out when I didn’t get the attention I wanted.

So, those same people who knew me then, would tell you I have a huge temper. That was so very true. I didn’t know how to love myself. So, I did anything and everything I could to force others to show me attention.

My mind interchanged love for attention. I felt like my mother loved me when I got attention. There were very few times outside of my getting attention that I felt love from my mother.

Hopefully, you are understanding what I mentioned earlier about how who we believe we are is nothing close to our true soul identity. That loud, wild extroverted, attention-craving “me” was anything but the real me.

When I lived my life as that loud, wild extroverted, attention-craving “me,” I was merely living the results of my emotional trauma. That “persona” I created caused a lot of pain for me and others in my life.

Not once were any of my behaviors a part of my personality or true soul identity. Instead, those behaviors were simply a result of my lacking healthy love and attention.

Due to that, my discovery of self led me to seeing that my true soul identity is pretty opposite of how I had shown up in the world for about thirty years. In order to do that, I had to really pay attention to how I felt after all interactions with people.

I noticed that when I had “Extroverted Mary Beth” on that I felt exhausted afterwards. When I was constantly on the go or in big groups of people, I felt depressed afterwards. It was like I could sleep for days.

As I continued paying attention to how I felt after interactions with other people, I began seeing that the “Extroverted Mary Beth” only resulted in depression and a lot of Not Good Enough Stuff.

Challenging Yourself and Discovering the Self

So, part of my discovering the self process began by me doing the opposite of what I’d always done. I stopped spending a ton of time around groups of people. I began connecting with people one-on-one for deep conversations about life.

Now, that felt good. It lit my true soul identity on fire! Finding enjoyable things to do at home quickly replaced the “always on the go” and “need for attention” behaviors.

That began my journey of self discovery. You might be a little confused as to how you begin discovering the self. So, here are some questions for self discovery to get you started.

Questions for Self Discovery:

  1. Who am I not? This requires journaling for self discovery.
  2. When do I feel at peace?
  3. How do I feel after interactions with others?
  4. What are the behaviors I do?
  5. Do I consider those behaviors as a part of my personality?

Journaling for self discovery to determine “Who I am not” is an essential part of discovering the self. It is also a great form of self-care. If you think you don’t have time for self-care, you need to read my post 4 Ways of Creating Time for Self-Care Ideas.

Before you can find your true soul identity, you need to be able to figure out who you are not. It is much easier to identify who you are not, than it is to figure out who you are.

Make a list of anything that pops into your head that you know you are not. Just go with whatever comes up.

Examples of Who I am Not:

• I am not hateful.

• I am not introverted/extroverted.

• I am not judgmental.

• I am not lazy

When you do that, you will easily be able to look at the opposite of those. That will point you towards who you are while starting your journey of self discovery.

Identifying when you feel at peace should be simple, but it’s not. Chances are that you have taught yourself you are at peace when you are doing the unhealthy behaviors you created as a child.

My guess is that you have forced yourself to believe that you enjoy doing those “behaviors.” So, you will really have to dig deep and listen to your mind and body to learn when you truly feel at peace.

Interacting with Others

Now, in order to explore how you feel after interactions with others, you will have to continue listening to your mind and body. That can be hard to do if you’ve never really done it.

Beginning this part of discovering the self can be easier if you pay attention to the behaviors you do after those interactions. Those behaviors are simply the ways for your mind and body to communicate with you.

After interactions with others, do you need time alone? Do you feel exhausted? Are there symptoms of depression present?

Are you searching to find more ways to continue having more interactions with people? Is your energy level really high afterwards? Can you identify symptoms of anxiety when you don’t have planned interactions with others?

These questions for self discovery can be a wealth of information when trying to find your true soul identity. Don’t make answering them a huge challenge.

As I mentioned previously, we let our behaviors determine our personality. Keep in mind that those behaviors probably came from your attempts to get your needs met as a child.

So, they are probably not indicators of your true soul identity. In order to truly stay on the path of discovering the self, you have to be willing to challenge the beliefs you have, and that others may have, regarding who you are.

If this seems overwhelming to you, that’s ok. It sure can be overwhelming because it requires you to question everything you thought you knew about yourself.

If you don’t feel a tingly, excited energy in your stomach after reading this, then it’s probably not the time for your journey of self discovery. Guess what. That is perfectly ok.

You will know when the time is right. If it’s not now, just bookmark this post to have it when the time is right.

Ready to Start Your Journey of Self Discovery

For those of you who are ready, I have a little bit of advice for you as a self discovery coach. Doing the work of discovering the self can bring up feelings of not being good enough. That’s the Not Good Enough Stuff I mentioned earlier.

I know that when I began my own journey of self discovery that I got angry at myself. I shamed myself for the years of behaviors that were not in line with my true soul identity.

However, I quickly came to a place of gratitude for every single experience I had because of those behaviors. They allowed me to get what I needed at the time.

Without those experiences, my NGES would have been much larger. If you feel anger or shame for the ways you behaved that were opposite of your true soul identity, stop right there.

You were actually incredibly smart and resourceful. Nobody taught you how to get your needs met in a healthy way. So, you found ways to do it on your own.

Of course, they weren’t always healthy, but that is not your fault. If you knew how to connect to your true soul identity and meet your needs, then you wouldn’t even be reading this. We are not taught how to do that!

Feeling Lost in Your Journey of Self Discovery

So, if you find yourself feeling lost and as if you took too many wrong turns, you need to read my post Feeling Lost in Life.

That post will help you see that you are right where you are supposed to be. Every supposed “wrong turn” allowed you an experience that your true soul identity needed.

You’re probably thinking, “Well I sure could’ve done things better and more easily.” If you had known how to do that, you would have.

You weren’t taught how to do that. So, just like a baby learning to walk, you will fall numerous times. You just get to decide if you get back up and where you go when you do get back up.

If you are beginning your journey of self discovery or just have a desire to do so, I want to hear from you. Comment on this post to let me know where you are in the process.

As always, we can learn so much from each other. So, share your thoughts or questions with the NGES community by posting a comment below. Be proud that you were willing to read this and are possibly willing to begin your journey of self discovery.


This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.

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Celtice Soma

You say depression and anxiety happen when we aren’t living life true to ourselves. What if you’ve been depressed and anxious for most if not your whole life, and depression and anxiety shaped a false identity for yourself? Why was I born depressed? Is there hope for people who have been depressed or anxious since they were kids? What would you recommend then?