33 Important Questions That Determine How Well You Really Know Yourself

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questions that help you get to know yourself better

No plane ticket or hiking boots necessary.

You've probably read a book or seen a movie where the main character goes on an epic journey to find themselves. It seems so glamorous, and despite some angst by that hero/heroine in the middle of the story, everything seems to draw to a happily ever after by the end.

Purpose, passion, and deepest desires — often along with the perfect partner or job — arrive.

So, maybe you’re waiting to find yourself when you get time to take that epic dream trip to Paris, a meditation retreat at an Ashram in India or hiking through the wilderness to really get to know yourself.

I have to tell you, darling, that if you’re waiting for your own epic trip to make the journey to self-awareness "easier" or more meaningful, then you are wasting what precious time you have now on how to get to know yourself.

Let me be brutally honest with you: The answers aren’t hidden somewhere out there, but you already have them deep within your heart and mind.

All you have to do is ask yourself some soul-searching "getting to know yourself" questions to uncover the answers.

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All you need to discover who you are and what you really want is a pen and a journal.

Once you have a pen and journal at hand, now it’s time to dive into the best way I know to discover yourself: the inquiry process. Basically, you are interviewing yourself and asking questions that will help you get a more clear picture of who you are and where you're at in your life.

Here's what you need to accept before you dive in:

  • You have to be willing to be vulnerable. That means willing to gaze into the mirror and see you for how you really are. Vulnerability allows you to form a stronger connection with others and yourself.
  • Honesty is key. It’s critical that you are honest with yourself. Even if you think your answers may sound selfish or greedy or materialistic, they aren't. Because they are your truth.
  • You must also be compassionate with yourself. The answers you discover in your quest for self-awareness may make you angry, uncomfortable, or afraid. This is normal. This is why it’s important to be gentle. Just note, however, that it’s impossible to create the kind of lasting change you deeply desire without knowing exactly where you stand.

So where do you start, and what questions should you be asking yourself?

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Here are 33 "getting to know yourself" questions that will help you discover who you really are:

  1. What questions should I be asking myself right now? Are there questions I am avoiding asking myself?
  2. Am I happy? What do I need to be happy? In what ways do I pretend to be happy? How do I sabotage my own happiness?
  3. What am I longing to experience?
  4. What little white lies do I tell myself or other people? Why?
  5. How can I make my daily life feel easier? Feel free to dig into a specific time of day (mornings, evenings) that you desire to feel easier.
  6. Other than time or money, what do I want more of in my life?
  7. Am I using "being busy" as an excuse to hide from my own life?
  8. What can I celebrate?
  9. Where can I invest in myself? What skills can I learn or strengthen? How might I invest in my home, my life, my personal growth, or happiness?
  10. What small tweaks can I make to make my mornings feel less stressful and more nourishing? 
  11. What am I most grateful for in my daily life?
  12. Do I secretly fantasize about running away from my life? What does that fantasy entail: a brief break, a fresh start…?
  13. Is striving for perfection secretly destroying my sense of self? Is trying to have it all causing me to feel inadequate?
  14. What would be worth trying or pursuing...even if I fail?
  15. What do I need to let go of? What old beliefs am I holding onto? What old stories am I constantly fondling? Where do I need to forgive myself?
  16. In what ways am I numbing myself and checking out of my own life? Am I drinking or shopping to excess? Am I using food as comfort? Am I over-exercising or always busy?  
  17. Other than weight, what do I want less of in my life?
  18. What are the ways I keep myself silent?
  19. What gifts, talents, or passions have I been hiding from myself? How am I burying my gifts and hiding them from others? How can I begin to engage with them more often?
  20. Who do I desire to BE in the world?
  21. Am I staying in an unhealthy situation — relationship, job — due to guilt or fear? What are the pros and cons of getting out or walking away from it?
  22. Am I making choices in my life from a place of love…or fear?
  23. What relationships in my life feel toxic? What relationships feel nourishing? How can I better invest in the nourishing ones and spend less time/energy on the toxic ones?
  24. What am I avoiding? And, why?
  25. Do I listen to my body when it’s tired/hungry/achy/begging for movement, etc.? What is my body trying to tell me?
  26. What’s the worst thing that can happen if I choose to pursue (insert a specific goal or dream)? What’s the best thing that can happen?
  27. What big goal am I secretly wanting to pursue? What is stopping me?
  28. What would my ideal day look and feel like?
  29. Does success scare me? In what ways might I be sabotaging myself because I’m afraid of succeeding?
  30. In what areas of my life am I underestimating myself?
  31. What assumptions am I making about (insert person’s name, a situation, a goal)? How are those assumptions keeping me from what I desire?
  32. What’s missing from my life? What can I do to get it?
  33. What physical things do I desire in my life? (Don’t worry about sounding materialistic)

As you read through the questions, pay particular attention to the ones that excite you and the ones that make you nervous.

This is your body’s signal that those questions will provide important insight. Know, too, that some questions will lead to additional questions.

Approach this process with a sense of play and curiosity. And if you get stuck, ask yourself follow up questions such as "Why?" or "And what would that give me?"

If you find yourself wanting to change everything about your life right now, please be patient with yourself. The idea of reinvention is seductive but unrealistic. Instead, choose a small area of your life you desire to shift.

Create a plan around making it happen. You deserve to live a life you love. In order to create it, you need to know the most important tool you have to do so: knowing yourself.

Less expensive than an epic journey. Yet the results are indeed priceless. 

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Debra Smouse is a life coach and author who discovered that getting to know herself was the key to creating a life she loved. Get a free e-book from Debra, as well as her bi-weekly love note with tips for creating a life YOU love.