5 Psychological Tricks To Find Out Who You Really Are

Life is busy and the world is chaotic, sometimes you need a strategic plan to hear your inner voice.

confident young woman with a shaved head, looking peaceful KIRAYONAK YULIYA / Shutterstock

As a therapist, it’s my business to help people get to know themselves better. There’s so much going on in the external world (job, social media, friends, family, the news) that we don’t spend much time in our inner world. Some of us know more about Kim Kardashian than we do about ourselves.

This is a problem. If we don’t know who we really are, then we won’t know how to create a life that best serves us. We won’t be able to set boundaries or create priorities that best support us. It’s harder to accept ourselves if we don’t know ourselves.


It can feel intimidating to try to find out who we really are.

RELATED: The 5 Steps You'll Take On Your Journey To Inner Peace

Here are five simple psychological tricks to get you started on finding out who you truly are

1. Stay out of other people’s heads (so you can stay in yours)

We all spend too much time in other people’s heads, trying to figure out what they think of us and what would make them like us more. Knowing what they’re thinking makes us feel safer. However, when we look at ourselves through their eyes, all we are learning is who they are, not who we are.


To find out who you are, you’ve got to spend time in your own head. When you’re with someone else, ask yourself what you think about them and what they’re saying. Pay attention to your opinions about the situation. Notice your feelings and reactions. This is the information that will help you figure out who you really are. Stay in your own head.

RELATED: 7 Benefits Of Using Writing For Self-Discovery

2. Identify your values by imagining yourself outside of your social circle

Our values are what is most meaningful to us in the world. Values aren’t people or things, but feelings, experiences, and concepts — compassion, travel, and success are all values. Our values make it worth getting up in the morning. They motivate us to do hard things. Our values paint a picture of who we are at a deep level.

To identify your values, answer these 3 questions, and visualize yourself outside of the influence of your social circle:

  • If you were given $100 to do whatever you want with, what would you do with it? What if it was $5,000? What if it was $100,000? Take time to figure out how you would spend every last dollar.
  • If you had a week left to live, how would you spend it? What if you had a month left? What if you had a year left? Get specific.
  • If a genie granted you one wish, what would it be? Two wishes? Three wishes? Your imagination is the limit.

What do your answers reveal about your values? If you put the $100,000 in the bank or asked the genie for an infinite number of wishes, you probably value safety and security. If you spent your last year traveling, you may value novelty and learning. If you donate the $100, you might value generosity or social justice.

RELATED: How To Live A Life That’s Aligned With Your True Self, According To 86 Experts

3. Stop over-apologizing, and figure out what you're sorry for

We have a tendency to apologize when we’ve done nothing wrong. Similarly, we try not to bother anyone or be in anyone’s way. In other words, we don’t take up our space. We make ourselves smaller because we think other people’s space is more important than ours. We need to stop this; we can’t find out who we are if we aren’t fully showing up in our own lives.

When you stop over-apologizing, you will feel the difference. You will get a taste of taking up your space. When you take up your space and assume you are worth as much as the next person, you give yourself the room to find out what you really like, what feels good, and what feels important. You give yourself room to find out who you really are.


RELATED: 8 People Share Their Stories Of How They Realized They Were Aromantic

4. Look at your relationships more objectively

How we relate to people says a lot about us – do we tend to have deep relationships or are they more surface-level? Who we surround ourselves with is another useful source of information.

If you tend to have mostly surface-level relationships, you likely don’t feel great about yourself and assume the other person also won’t feel great about you if you reveal anything deep. Or you simply don’t trust others to be kind about whatever vulnerable bits you could reveal.

If you have mostly needy friends, you might feel most valuable when you are needed. If you have a diverse group of friends, you might have a lot of interests and/or be easily bored. If your friends tend to be kind, you are likely to be kind.


RELATED: The Life-Changing Spiritual Tool Most People Overlook — But Could Totally Use

5. Spend time with yourself

To be frank, we absolutely suck at this! Our world is so busy and full of distractions, we simply do not have the time or interest to spend any kind of real, quality time with ourselves. It sounds boring and not nearly productive enough.

Here’s the thing: it pays dividends. Knowing who you really are can help you to understand yourself, accept yourself, motivate yourself, and have compassion for yourself. It helps you become who you want to be.


Make the time. Plan to spend some time each week doing some form of self-reflection: journal, write down a few things you’re grateful for, go to therapy, pick a workbook to work through, meditate, or write a letter to yourself 10 or 20 years in the future or to yourself as a child. All of these can help you get clarity about who you are.

None of these tricks are complicated, but they do take effort. Choose one — or all! — of them to try this week. You are worth getting to know better.

RELATED: 5 (Sometimes Harsh) Realities You'll Face When You Finally Decide To Get Real With Yourself

Suzanne Manser, PhD is a licensed psychologist and an expert in eating disorders, anxiety, and self-acceptance. She shares more of her writing and insights on her website and on Instagram