Self Discovery

People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates. ~Thomas Szasz, “Personal Conduct,” The Second Sin, 1973
You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. ~Alan Alda
Never mind searching for who you are. Search for the person you aspire to be. ~Robert Brault
Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor. ~Dr. Alexis Carrel
The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart. ~Julien Green
There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anaïs Nin
The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose. ~Richard Grant
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer. ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
All men should strive
to learn before they die
what they are running from, and to, and why.
~James Thurber
I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of. ~Michel de Montaigne
If you don’t get lost, there’s a chance you may never be found. ~Author Unknown
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. ~Henry David Thoreau, 1854
A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it. ~George Moore
It is good to feel lost… because it proves you have a navigational sense of where “Home” is. You know that a place that feels like being found exists. And maybe your current location isn’t that place but, Hallelujah, that unsettled, uneasy feeling of lost-ness just brought you closer to it. ~Erika Harris,
If in the last few years you haven’t discarded a major opinion or acquired a new one, check your pulse. You may be dead. ~Gelett Burgess
Endurance is frequently a form of indecision. ~Elizabeth Bibesco, Haven, 195
Man never knows what he wants; he aspires to penetrate mysteries and as soon as he has, he wants to reestablish them. Ignorance irritates him and knowledge cloys. ~Amiel, Journal, 1884
The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life. ~Muhammad Ali
Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake. ~Wallace Stevens
One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star. ~G.K. Chesterton, “The Logic of Elfland,” Orthodoxy, 1908
If you resist reading what you disagree with, how will you ever acquire deeper insights into what you believe? The things most worth reading are precisely those that challenge our convictions. ~Author Unknown
It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts. ~K.T. Jong
I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself. ~James Baldwin
There are chapters in every life which are seldom read and certainly not aloud. ~Carol Shields
To the question of your life, you are the only answer. To the problems of your life, you are the only solution. ~Jo Coudert, Advice From A Failure (Thanks, Elizabeth!)
Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves. ~Henry David Thoreau
No single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras, 1942, translated from French by Lewis Galantière
In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own. ~Alice Walker
Why should we honour those that die upon the field of battle? A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself. ~William Butler Yeats
If you haven’t had at least a slight poetic crack in the heart, you have been cheated by nature. ~Phyllis Battelle
Learning how to operate a soul figures to take time. ~Timothy Leary
I’ve left Bethlehem
and I feel free…
I’ve left the girl I was supposed to be
and some day I’ll be born.
~Paula Cole
Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery. ~Matthew Arnold, “Self-Dependence,” Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems, 1852
To dare to live alone is the rarest courage; since there are many who had rather meet their bitterest enemy in the field, than their own hearts in their closet. ~Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon, 1825
No one remains quite what he was when he recognizes himself. ~Thomas Mann
Every one of us has in him a continent of undiscovered character. Blessed is he who acts the Columbus to his own soul. ~Author Unknown
There’s a period of life when we swallow a knowledge of ourselves and it becomes either good or sour inside. ~Pearl Bailey

I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want. ~Mark Twain
He who knows others is learned;
He who knows himself is wise.
~Lao-tzu, Tao te Ching
You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one. ~James A. Froude
Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth. ~Alan Watts

Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it’s dark. ~Zen Proverb
We are the products of editing, rather than authorship. ~George Wald, “The Origin of Optical Activity,” Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 1975
To be too conscious is an illness – a real thoroughgoing illness. ~Fyodor Dostoevski
Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. ~Anaïs Nin
There are… things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind. ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “Notes from the Underground,” 1864
It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy. ~Lucille Ball
Oh! that you could turn your eyes towards the napes of your necks, and make but an interior survey of your good selves. ~William Shakespeare, “Coriolanus”
Know thyself, or at least keep renewing the acquaintance. ~Robert Brault
It’s terrifying to see someone inside of whom a vital spring seems to have been broken. It’s particularly terrifying to see him in your mirror. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966
The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. ~Anna Quindlen
Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering. ~St. Augustine
When you re-read a classic you do not see in the book more than you did before. You see more in you than there was before. ~Clifton Fadiman
There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered. ~Nelson Mandela
For most men life is a search for the proper manila envelope in which to get themselves filed. ~Clifton Fadiman
Bypasses are devices that allow some people to dash from point A to point B very fast while other people dash from point B to point A very fast. People living at point C, being a point directly in between, are often given to wonder what’s so great about point A that so many people from point B are so keen to get there and what’s so great about point B that so many people from point A are so keen to get there. They often wish that people would just once and for all work out where the hell they wanted to be. ~Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Confusion now hath made his masterpiece. ~William Shakespeare
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. ~Douglas Adams
We run away all the time to avoid coming face to face with ourselves. ~Author Unknown
When one feels pulled to do a particular thing, when one has passion for a certain life path, karma is always involved. In such an instance, when the goal is worthy and makes one happy, one should continue on that same life path. Just because the elephant cannot carry you anymore doesn’t mean you should give up your goal. Continue down the path that makes you feel fulfilled. Those who continue on an unrewarding path for the sake of only monetary gain are displaying a lack of trust in life. ~Kwan Yin
In order to find yourself you need to get lost in the forest of life. ~Mike Dolan,
The difficult part in an argument is not to defend one’s opinion but rather to know it. ~André Maurois
The road to self-belief is potholed. ~Nyasha Madavo
He not busy being born is busy dying. ~Bob Dylan
It is a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, “Go away, I’m looking for the truth,” and so it goes away. Puzzling. ~Robert M. Pirsig
A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it. ~Jean de La Fontaine
There is a limit to how much you can change to be liked for who you really are. ~Robert Brault
The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want. ~Ben Stein
Driving down the wrong road and knowing it,
The fork years behind, how many have thought
To pull up on the shoulder and leave the car
Empty, strike out across the fields; and how many
Are still mazed among dock and thistle,
Seeking the road they should have taken?
~Damon Knight, The Man in the Tree, 1984
Those who are brutally honest are seldom so with themselves. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, 1966
Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it. ~Buddha
By all means use sometimes to be alone. Salute thyself; see what thy soul doth wear. ~George Herbert
Becoming conscious is of course a sacrilege against nature; it is as though you had robbed the unconscious of something. ~Carl G. Jung
We catch frightful glimpses of ourselves in the hostile eyes of others. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960
“Know thyself?” If I knew myself, I’d run away. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes. ~Hugh Prather
And if you find everything as soon as you look for it, you find it in vain, you look for it in vain. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin
You’ll never find peace of mind until you listen to your heart. ~George Michael, “Kissing A Fool”
To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying “Amen” to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to keep your soul alive. ~Robert Louis Stevenson
Let your heart guide you. It whispers, so listen carefully. ~Littlefoot’s mother, Land Before Time
Basically we are all looking for someone who knows who we are and will break it to us gently. ~Robert Brault
If a man happens to find himself, he has a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the days of his life. ~James A. Michener
It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you’ve forgotten about. ~Alan Ball, American Beauty, 1999
One’s own self is well hidden from one’s own self; of all mines of treasure, one’s own is the last to be dug up. ~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
It is the first of all problems for a man to find out what kind of work he is to do in this universe. ~Thomas Carlyle
If you’re not a rebel by the age of twenty, you’ve got no heart, but if you haven’t turned establishment by thirty, you’ve got no brains. ~Swimming with Sharks, 1994, written & directed by George Huang, spoken by the character Buddy Ackerman played by Kevin Spacey
They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. ~Confucius
Your distress about life might mean you have been living for the wrong reason, not that you have no reason for living. ~Tom O’Connor
In order to judge properly, one must get away somewhat from what one is judging, after having loved it. This is true of countries, of persons, and of oneself. ~André Gide
You cannot fully understand your own life without knowing and thinking beyond your life, your own neighborhood, and even your own nation. ~Johnnetta Cole
There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line.
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.
~Indigo Girls, “Closer to Fine”
A man may be so much of everything that he is nothing of anything. ~Samuel Johnson, Boswell, Life of Johnson, 1783
No question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious. ~George Bernard Shaw
There is an eternal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives. ~Josephine Hart
God, why do I storm heaven for answers that are already in my heart? Every grace I need has already been given me. Oh, lead me to the Beyond within. ~Macrina Wieherkehr
Camouflage is a game we all like to play, but our secrets are as surely revealed by what we want to seem to be as by what we want to conceal. ~Russell Lynes
[L]ife ceases to be a fraction and becomes an integer. ~Harry Emerson Fosdick, On Being a Real Person
Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. ~Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun
Truth hurts – not the searching after; the running from! ~John Eyberg
A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I… recommend to every one of my Readers, the keeping a Journal of their Lives for one Week, and setting down punctually their whole Series of Employments during that Space of Time. This kind of Self-Examination would give them a true State of themselves, and incline them to consider seriously what they are about. One Day would rectifie the Omissions of another, and make a Man weigh all those indifferent Actions, which, though they are easily forgotten, must certainly be accounted for. ~Joseph Addison, 1712
It is not only the most difficult thing to know oneself, but the most inconvenient one, too. ~H.W. Shaw
For souls in growth, great quarrels are great emancipators. ~Logan Pearsall Smith
Few people know so clearly what they want. Most people can’t even think what to hope for when they throw a penny in a fountain. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
All your life you pretend to be someone else, and it turns out that you were someone else pretending to be you. ~Robert Brault
Living is being born slowly. It would be a little too easy if we could borrow ready-made souls. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras, 1942
If you can go through life without experiencing pain you probably haven’t been born yet. ~Neil Simon
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. ~Oscar Wilde
That’s the way things come clear. All of a sudden. And then you realize how obvious they’ve been all along. ~Madeleine L’Engle
In the end you don’t so much find yourself as you find someone who knows who you are. ~Robert Brault
Just as we outgrow a pair of trousers, we outgrow acquaintances, libraries, principles, etc., at times before they’re worn out and times – and this is the worst of all – before we have new ones. ~G.C. Lichtenberg
There are joys which long to be ours. God sends ten thousands truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet; but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing awhile upon the roof, and then fly away. ~Henry Ward Beecher
You will never come up against a greater adversary than your own potential, my young friend. ~Michael Piller and Michael Wagner, Star Trek: The Next Generation, “Evolution,” Dr. Paul Stubbs to Wesley Crusher, original airdate 25 September 1989, stardate 43,125.8
“Know thyself” – a maxim as pernicious as it is odious. A person observing himself would arrest his own development. Any caterpillar who tried to “know himself” would never become a butterfly. ~André Gide, Nouvelles Nourritures
Real birthdays are not annual affairs. Real birthdays are the days when we have a new birth. ~Ralph Parlette
If you aren’t sure who you are, you might as well work on who you want to be. ~Robert Brault
Pain reaches the heart with electrical speed, but truth moves to the heart as slowly as a glacier. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
Readjusting is a painful process, but most of us need it at one time or another. ~Arthur Christopher Benson
When your heart speaks, take good notes. ~Judith Campbell
Like an old gold-panning prospector, you must resign yourself to digging up a lot of sand from which you will later patiently wash out a few minute particles of gold ore. ~Dorothy Bryant
Everyone is born a king, and most people die in exile. ~Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance, 1893
Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is. The most important product of his effort is his own personality. ~Erich Fromm
Leaving home in a sense involves a kind of second birth in which we give birth to ourselves. ~Robert Neelly Bellah, Habits of the Heart, 1985
The contemplative life is often miserable. One must act more, think less, and not watch oneself live. ~Nicolas Chamfort
The simplest questions are the most profound. Where were you born? Where is your home? Where are you going? What are you doing? Think about these once in a while and watch your answers change. ~Richard Bach
There is a great deal of unmapped country within us which would have to be taken into account in an explanation of our gusts and storms. ~George Eliot
Man can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as… from a lack of bread. ~Richard Wright, Native Son, 1940
The truth is that it is natural, as well as necessary, for every man to be a vagabond occasionally. ~Samuel H. Hammond
We have five senses in which we glory and which we recognize and celebrate, senses that constitute the sensible world for us. But there are other senses – secret senses, sixth senses, if you will – equally vital, but unrecognized, and unlauded. ~Oliver Sacks
There is deep wisdom within our very flesh, if we can only come to our senses and feel it. ~Elizabeth A. Behnke
There are people who live their whole lives on the default settings, never realizing you can customize. ~Robert Brault
God hides things by putting them all around us. ~Author Unknown
I think that wherever your journey takes you, there are new gods waiting there, with divine patience – and laughter. ~Susan M. Watkins
Quality begins on the inside… and then works its way out. ~Bob Moawad