How to Discover Your True Identity

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One study suggests having a better ability to know yourself can help you make effective decisions and achieve goals.Beyond the realm of science, the importance of knowing who you are is recognized by everyday people and pop culture icons, too. Beyoncé said, “Knowing who you are is the greatest wisdom a human being can possess. Know your goals, what you love, your morals, your needs, your standards, what you will not tolerate and what you are willing to die for. It defines who you are.” Keep in mind, that as you grow older and are exposed to different people and experiences, who you are steadily evolves. If you are having trouble defining who you are, engage in self-reflection to uncover your truest self.

Examining Yourself More Closely
Figure out what you like and don’t like. People often concentrate the hardest on what they like. While figuring out what brings you joy or pleasure is important, it is also helpful to know what causes you unhappiness or dissatisfaction. One of the first steps of self-reflection is sitting down and developing a list of all the things you like and all those you dislike.

Your likes and dislikes are often how you describe yourself to others. These are things that may separate us or relate us to those around us. Understanding these things helps you to know what you want to move toward in life and what you want to stay away from. Knowing your likes and dislikes can guide your career choices, where you live, your hobbies, and what kind of people you surround yourself with.

Use this activity to see if your likes and dislikes are too rigid. Have you been placing yourself in a box? Is there something that you would like to do or try that is outside of what you think you should be on paper? Build up the courage to try something totally new. You might unveil a different side of yourself.

Analyze your advantages and disadvantages.
Just as likes and dislikes can give you incredible insight into who you are, so can understanding the things you’re good at and not-so-good at. On a separate piece of paper, create a list of strengths and challenges.
For most people, strengths or talents may also overlap with their likes, and challenges may overlap with their dislikes. Let’s say you like cupcakes, cookies, and pastries and a strength of yours is baking – the two are aligned. On the other hand, you might dislike sports and a challenge of yours is physical coordination or endurance.

In many cases, the things that are challenges may become things you dislike because you are not naturally good at them. This tells the why of what you do or don’t like.
Simply knowing these things is meaningful in itself. However, you can dig deeper and decide if you want to work to improve on any of the things you find challenging, or if you want to focus your energy on things you are already good at.

Evaluate what makes you feel comfortable.
We can learn much about ourselves when we are at our best, but we can also glean significant understanding from when we are feeling low. Think hard about the last time(s) you were feeling down or stressed. What kind of comfort did you seek during this time? What made you feel better?
Knowing what soothes you tells you a lot about yourself as a person. It could be that you always reach out to a certain person to lift you back up or take your mind off things. You might watch your favorite movies or escape into the pages of a favorite novel. The source of comfort for you could be food, which is common in people who eat emotionally.

Keep a journal to document your feelings and ideas. 
A great way to learn more about yourself is to become an observer of your thoughts and feelings. Do this for a week or more to get a bigger picture of the topics that constantly come to your mind or identify mood states that you frequently experience. Are your thoughts positive? Negative?

A review of your journal might reveal several subtle statements about a direction you’d like to take your life that you may not be consciously aware of. You might write over and over again about wanting to travel, about a certain person you like, or a new hobby you want to pick up.
After finding reoccurring themes in your journal, take a moment to think about what these thoughts and feelings mean – and whether you want to act on them.

Conduct a personality assessment.
Another method to learn more about yourself is by completing a personality assessment online. Some people don’t like being categorized, while, for some, placing labels on themselves and their behaviors brings order to life. If you are a person who enjoys understanding yourself by examining how you relate to (or differ from) others, taking a free online personality test might be helpful.

Websites such as HumanMetrics.com require you to answer a series of questions about your preferences and how you view the world or yourself. The tool then analyzes your responses to provide you with a personality type that can help you understand which interests or occupations you might thrive in as well as how you communicate with those around you.

Keep in mind that any free online assessment you take cannot be considered completely valid. These tests can offer you a general understanding of who you are. However, if you want an in-depth analysis of your personality, you will need to see a clinical psychologist.

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