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Self-discovery: what it really is, and 4 myths about it

Self-discovery: what it really is, and 4 myths about it

June 22, 2024

The ideas that Sigmund Freud proposed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries no longer apply when trying to explain the behavior of human beings, but there is some truth in them: in each person, there is a gap between what is he wants to do and what he says he wants to do. Most of our mental life is secret, and the motives that move us to perform all kinds of actions are to a certain extent hidden.

That's precisely why it takes value what we usually call self-discovery . In this article we will see what it is exactly and in what way it has an impact on our day to day.

  • Related article: "Self-concept: what is it and how is it formed?"

What is self-discovery?

Self-discovery is a process by which we generate a concept of ourselves that is realistic and close to reality , dispensing with biases that depend on our optimism (idealizing our self-concept) or our pessimism (creating an image of us that is too negative because of sadness or a low state of mind). So, it is a complex process, because to get involved in it you have to renounce those immediate and intuitive impressions that come to mind just at the moment when something happens that can appeal to our sense of identity.


Keys to reach a realistic self-concept

When it comes to knowing oneself, one has to flee from easy and intuitive explanations about who we are. As a small guide, in the following lines you can find key ideas that you must take into account before launching yourself into self-discovery.

1. The truth is hidden in self-justifications

If human beings are experts in something, it is in creating narrations about who we are and what we do. These narratives can help us create a coherent "I" concept , consistent and easy to memorize, but at the cost of sacrificing part of the truthfulness of that self-concept.


Therefore, to bet hard for self-discovery, it is worth focusing our attention on thinking about those aspects about ourselves that we like the least and looking for explanations about what really moves us to act like this in such situations. After all, in these cases what we have at hand are self-justifications and half-truths that we tell ourselves

  • Related article: "Cognitive biases: discovering an interesting psychological effect"

2. Self-discovery is not based on introspection

Many people believe that discovering oneself is basically resorting to introspection to find mental contents that had remained hidden until that moment. That is to say, that to achieve this, we must do something similar to stay in a quiet and isolated place, close our eyes and concentrate on analyzing the flow of our thoughts.


However, this view of the mind is an illusion, given that it is influenced by a philosophical position known as dualism. According to the dualism applied to psychology, the mind and the body are two different things, and that is why to develop self-discovery you have to try to "nullify" the body and focus only on the mental, which supposedly would have different layers of depth, given that In spite of not being something physical, it emulates what is, and even though it is metaphorically, it has volume.

So, carry out self-discovery initiatives it is not concentrating on oneself and forgetting what is around . In any case, we must stop to analyze how we interact with our environment during the day to day. We are what we do, not what we think.

3. The opinion of others also counts

It is not true that each of us has a clearly privileged access to information about how we are.

In certain aspects of our lives it is clear that we know more than the rest, especially in relation to those facets of our own day-to-day life that we prefer to keep hidden, but when it comes to the global conception of who we are, our friends, family members and in general the people from our closest social circles They know a lot about our identity and behavior style .

In fact, unlike what happens with us, as they do not have the need to strive to keep the most negative aspects of who we are far from their conscience, they are often able to weigh in a more balanced way what are the strengths and imperfections that define us. That's right: it's important not to be labeled and be clear that time and experiences can change us.

4. New situations tell us more about who we are

At the time of undertaking the path of self-discovery, it is important to completely reject essentialism . What is essentialism? Simply, it is a philosophical position known to feed the idea that things and people have a clear and distinct identity from the rest of the elements, which remains constant and stands the test of time.

When someone says, for example, that an old acquaintance was born as a neighborhood and will continue to be a neighborhood regardless of what happens to him (for example, winning the lottery), he is holding an essentialist perspective, even if he does not know it.

Essentialism is an obstacle to carrying out self-discovery, because it is not true that we are born as one thing and we die being exactly the same .

If our explanations about who we are do not suffer alterations, however much we continue living new experiences that provide us with new information about our identity, something goes wrong. Possibly we continue to cling to those myths about ourselves through which we automatically build a self-concept, without noticing it.


The Journey of Self-Discovery with Michael Hrostoski (June 2024).


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