Asking the right questions can be a powerful way get to know who you really are, challenge false beliefs about yourself, and get clear about what you truly want for your life.
Most of us have been strongly conditioned by early childhood experiences. So much so that we act out of unconscious patterns without stopping to question if they bring an enduring sense of happiness.
Thoughtful questions can interrupt these patterns, foster deep insight, and lead to positive change.
How to Work with Self-Discovery Questions
I’ve created 52 self-discovery questions for you. Here are some ways to work with them.
You could explore one each week over the coming year. Or you could select a handful of questions and work with them more intensively over a weekend, once a month. Or maybe you only need one or two questions from this list to effect a powerful shift in your life.
Find the right pace for yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard and end up feeling overwhelmed or lost in a mental labyrinth.
Find a quiet, cozy space if you can. Quiet especially lends itself to deep, even life-changing, answers. But if you feel more comfortable in a busy coffee shop, that’s okay too.
Let yourself relax. Maybe you’d like to stretch for a few moments or take a few deep breaths and then ask yourself one of the following questions.
If you like to journal, record your answers in a notebook or journal. Or you can mind-map your impressions as well as your deeper thoughts on a single sheet of paper. I like to write down my initial impressions, let the questions percolate for awhile in my subconscious mind, and come back to them once again, later in the week
Any kind of emotion can arise when we ask challenging questions. It could be a difficult emotion like self-recrimination, sadness, or anger. On the other hand, you might feel relief, release, and joy. Whatever emotions arise, recognize that they are temporary and will pass. As best you can, just let them be. They will dissolve on their own if you don’t feed them with more thoughts or emotion.
At the same time, your emotions can provide valuable insights into your patterns. If you often respond with self-recrimination, what’s that about? Know that you don’t have to stay stuck forever in that response pattern. You can heal self-recrimination or any other patterned emotional stances that bring you down. But you need to know them first, and that’s how self-discovery questions can help.
Be gentle with yourself in the process. Don’t forget all your good qualities and the positive ways you’ve already changed.If you find it too rough to go this alone, seek the support of a professional therapist, try co-counseling with a peer, or ask for support from friends.
52 Self-Discovery Questions to Bring About Real Change
Here they are! You can a download a free PDF of these questions here, so you can work with them gradually, at your own pace.
- What matters to me most?
- What are my most important values and how am I living in ways that are not aligned with my values?
- What are my most important needs and desires? Does my present life fulfill them?
- What are the operating principles of my life?
- What is my life’s purpose?
- How do I feel about my personality type? If you don’t know about your personality type, read: Do You Know Your Personality Type.
- What are my personal gifts?
- Which three words describe me best?
- What’s one thing I would like to do more of and why? How can I make that happen?
- What’s one thing I would like to do less of and why? How can I make that happen?
- What would I like to stop worrying about? What steps can I take to let go of the worry?
- How do I move past unpleasant thoughts or experiences?
- When I’m in physical or emotional pain, what are some of the best things I can do for myself?
- What’s keeping me awake at night?
- What drains my energy? How can I remove it from my life or protect myself from its negative effect?
- How do I feel about the pace of my life? Is it too fast, too slow, or just about right?
- How do I feel about my last mistake and what did I learn from it?
- Do I wait for others to solve my problems? Why is that?
- What makes me feel motivated, inspired, excited?
- Am I holding onto something that would be better to let go of? What is it and what’s holding me back from letting go?
- Do I have unfinished business? With whom? What inner work needs to be done to heal this? What steps can I take to bring resolution?
- On a scale of 1 – 10, where am I when it comes to being calm and centered in challenging situations? What do I need to do to have more peace in my life? If you need ideas, read: 21 Ways to Eliminate Stress from Your Life.
- In what areas of my life am I trading authenticity for safety, or what appears to be safety?
- How am I censoring what I really think or feel?
- What holds me back from being more authentic?
- How much personal time do I need each week to function well and feel happy?
- What limiting beliefs impact my life in undesirable ways? What is the origin of each belief? Is each belief still true for me today? What positive beliefs would counterbalance each one?
- How do I feel when I enforce my personal boundaries?
- What’s behind my hesitancy to set personal boundaries, both in general and in particular situations?
- How do I sabotage myself?
- How do I feel about self-care and how does that effect the quality of my life? If you want to expand your self-care, check out: 15 of the Most Awesome Self-Care Gifts Ever.
- In what ways do I feel responsible for everyone and everything? If you do, you might want to read: Do You Feel Responsible for Everyone and Everything?
- How much do I trust myself? Do I listen to others more than myself?
- How do I feel about getting quiet, listening deeply and patiently to my inner wisdom?
- Do I hold back from asking the big questions? The hard questions? If so, what scares me?
- How do I hesitate or refuse to take action on what my heart tells me? Read more: Are You Ready to Live a Heart-Centered Life?
- In what ways is my self-acceptance conditional, dependent upon the validation of others or specific accomplishments? Learn: How to Accept Yourself No Matter What.
- If I could change one thing in my life, what would I change and why?
- Do I feel supported by my family or friends? Who supports me or who doesn’t?
- Do I surround myself with mostly positive or mostly negative people? How does that work for me?
- What are my favorite ways to take care of myself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually?
- How do I feel about my relationship with my body?
- Do I feel comfortable expressing myself?
- Do I feel seen, heard, and valued?
- Do I have any regrets about my life so far? What changes can I make so I don’t continue to live with regrets? Here’s How to Avoid the Top Regrets of the Dying.
- How do I feel about accepting my “negative” qualities? Am I able to accept my whole self?
- What does my inner critic tell me? How does it stop me from moving forward?
- What important needs do I have that aren’t getting met?
- How do “shoulds” influence my choices rather than my own wishes and dreams? If you’re overcome by shoulds, here’s how to question them and take back your life.
- What makes you feel most like yourself. Why?
- Am I getting too caught up in other people’s problems?
- What’s my biggest dream?
Click here for access to my library of free resources, including a free printable of the 52 Self-Discovery Questions.
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Although asking deep questions can be a challenging process, it will also be profoundly rewarding — the catalyst that brings about the best possible changes in your life. At the moment, I’m ruminating on #2 – ways in which I’m not acting in alignment with my values. I feel nudged in a good way.
I would love to hear which of these self-discovery questions struck a chord with you, and how you feel they might impact your life. Please let me know in the comments below.
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always. With love, Sandra