“An unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
The ancient Greek Philosopher Socrates declared many years ago that a life void of self-reflection and introspection is a life wasted – guess he was right! Self-reflection is consciously asking ourselves questions about our thoughts, feelings, and experiences in life. I spend a lot of time teaching student hypnotherapists the right kinds of questions to ask client in the clinical environment, but today I’m writing about questions to ask yourself for your own development and growth.
Asking oneself questions is a valuable tool for personal growth which entails actively working on one’s attitudes, habits, and overall well-being in life, helping us understand ourselves and live a more fulfilling existence. The trick however, lies in answering these questions with utmost honesty and to approach them with curiosity to know and challenge oneself. Feelings and thoughts, when turned into questions for your own self, seem a lot less daunting and come from a place of much more compassion; compelling one to dig deeper into why a certain uncomfortable emotion surfaced in the first place instead of rushing to harsh conclusions about your own self and life in general.
This mental exercise also brings an element of objectivity into your life whereby you can detach from a heightened emotional state. This journey not only requires compassion, but it also requires deep compassion and letting go of shame. One must understand that everyone is on a unique journey, coming from diverse experiences in life and one must try to answer each question with as much authenticity as one can trying their best to not mimic someone else’s life.
This article offers up a range of Questions to Ask Yourself for Personal Growth and Development:
- What Am I Deflecting in Life?
Almost everyone in life has a particular moment or phase in their life where they are low, with some even hitting rock bottom. Everything can seem to be spiraling downward and they desperately and magically want their lives to change. They want to minimize their pain and insecurity. The beginning of any journey of change is firstly accepting the source of hurt and pain in our lives.
We all have different struggles ranging from our personal lives to our careers and when in crisis, many are faced with feelings like hurt, jealousy, comparing oneself to others, and feeling a lack of purpose in life.
When this begins to feel like the default in our lives, it is our responsibility to challenge ourselves and refuse to live with these feelings and take action to make better meaning of our lives. Hence, the first question to ask ourselves is about what is hurting us and what is making us uncomfortable. Once we have located the site of pain, the journey to improve ourselves becomes much easier.
- What Do I Want From Life?
Everyone has an array of different desires and interests in life. These might be personal or professional. Gaining the confidence to talk to a certain person, working on your physical fitness, or chasing a particular professional dream can all be desires we might not be actively working on because of the discipline and effort they demand.
Sitting down and enlisting what you truly want to achieve in life is essential for us to live a much more fulfilling life instead of never even setting out to try due to the fear of failure, for example. Deeper introspection: however, does not only include short-term life goals but thinking about one’s life’s overall purpose and finding out what gives them true meaning in life.
- What Are My Values?
Research shows that there is a direct link between one’s values and personal development. Once you have more clarity about what things or qualities you truly value and life you are able to streamline what you identify with and want in life. A person who does not have a sense of right or wrong, might feel lost beyond a certain point. These values can then inform our goals and purpose in life as well as for one’s personal development.
- What Are My Fears?
In order to lead an authentic life and live to the fullest, it is also important for a person to check in with the hidden fears that they have. Asking yourself about what scares you and inhibits you is a great starting point to be able to tackle your fears and overcome them. One might have social anxiety or the fear of failure. It is important to rationalise your fears and understanding they are often mostly in your head.
- What Are My Strengths and Weaknesses?
Life is not fair to anyone, the only person who makes the most out of life is the one who does not blame anyone and rather lives their life focused on their strengths and personal resources instead of all the things that they do not have in their life. Everyone has resources in their life, it is about making smart use of them, as the famous phrase goes – grass is not greener on the other side but where we water it!
One should also be open with themselves in terms of their weaknesses. Weaknesses must not be ignored or sugar-coated but accepted and worked on. The antidote to our weaknesses is not to ignore them but to understand that our weaknesses do not define us and there is life beyond them. One can only work on them and leave the rest to fate.
- What Do Success And Failure Mean To Me?
Life for most people can be a struggle for success. However, in modern times we live in, many ideas of success have become very skewed and materialistic. Therefore, it is important for each individual to reflect on their values and purpose as a person and to think about what success means to them and not waste their lives trying to achieve something because someone else has it. One should also think about failure and observe our psychological patterns of dealing with it.
Universally, people are conditioned to believe that failure is entirely negative and defines a person and their life. However, when on a journey of personal growth, one must build a healthier relationship with failure and accept it as a part of life. One must neither cling too much to success and neither to failure but focus on action and what brings them most joy.
- What Do I Want From My Relationships?
The kind of people we have around us contributes significantly to the quality of our lives. Apart from taking care of our family and making sure to spend time with them, it is important that we choose the right kind of company outside our homes and even within our homes maintain healthy boundaries with our family and friends. This might take time and practice but can be made possible with consistent emotional resilience.
- What Are My Regrets?
While managing your feelings about what you have done in the past is a great way to live life, having no regrets might be little unusual and slightly frivolous way of living life. Going back to what Socrates said, it might be the kind of life that a person is not reflecting on. Regrets are indicators of our true values and desires in life. When these are not met or we are not in alignment with them, we develop regrets. These regrets can be useful in prioritising our life goals in the future with an attempt to lead a more authentic life.
- What Are My Limiting Beliefs?
As we grow up, we grow up listening to many different opinions about ourselves from our parents, siblings, and teachers. We often internalise these beliefs and start living life based on them. We must grow to learn to challenge these beliefs and never label or define ourselves. If one lives life according to the “this is just how I am” mindset, one might be setting themselves up for failure. This can be a childish approach to life, whereas approaching life from a more mature mindset requires one to grow from one’s experiences and expand from them and always have childlike wonder for life always willing to change and learn never letting one’s ego and rigid self- identity hinder one from their journey of self-development.
- Does My Ego Hold Me Back?
Research shows that our ego and addiction to always feeling high about ourselves that many experience, actively impedes our social relationships and personal growth. When we are addicted to always being “good”, being liked and loved by other people, this leaves us no room to make mistakes and develop self-acceptance in life. Psychologically, this ties with Narcissism whereby one’s only goal is to be perceived well by people, and one stops finding delight in doing things for the sake of it.
- What Am I Grateful For?
Interestingly enough, the sign of an egotistic person is someone who is deeply ungrateful. They cannot stand not having what they want or someone else having more than them. Hence, one of the best ways to curb our egos in order to grow freely is to practice more gratitude and compare ourselves to others less, to understand that we must not be threatened by other people but rather be happy for abundance in other people’s lives as well. Making a list of things we are grateful for every night is a great exercise to become a more grateful person.
- What Am I Proud Of?
Human beings are natural problem-solvers. Being able to overcome adversity brings them true joy. Hence, regularly reflecting on one’s small and big wins in life is a must to personal growth with a pat on one’s back!
- How Do I Want People to Perceive Me?
While at first glance this might seem like a way to control other people or a rather narcissistic lens of looking at life. Contrary to this, this question should come out of a place of compassion for other people whereby, one should realise that so many people like us are all on their own personal journeys of self-growth and just like us they are deserving of our kindness and warmth. One should always keep a look out for what energy they want to bring into people’s life. This might include wanting to be respected by other people, wanting to be perceived as warm and kind etc.
- What Makes Me Feel Negative?
As we grow older, we become better at identifying experiences and people that rob us of our peace and passion for life. We might have to establish boundaries and then focus our energy on things that make us happy.
- What Actions Am I Avoiding?
At the end of the day, the most important question to ask oneself is if with all the introspection and right tools at one’s disposal, is one taking action? If one is stuck in a rut of thoughts and paralysed by them and taking no action, this is worrisome as eventually, in the end it is only real action that can change the course of our lives and help us to grow and develop as people, the rest becomes irrelevant if not followed with action.
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” – Amelie Earhart
In conclusion, personal growth and development can be a difficult journey but can be mastered with consistency and asking oneself the right questions. These questions can pertain to one’s physical health, mental health, values, goals, and purpose in life.
These questions, however, have to be constantly re-visited in order to truly benefit from them, and in the end, it is essential that one asks oneself if they are taking all the actions required to build the life that they desire as eventually, a life that one wishes to build can only be built through real-time effort and action and not merely good thoughts and wishes. This requires consistency and constant checking in with one’s feelings and inner state and if one sticks to answering or at least thinking about these questions sincerely, one can truly embark on a great journey of self-development.
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