Conquering the Fear of Self-Discovery

From the time we’re born, society conditions us all to strive for goals. Trained by our parents and teachers to set expectations, we learn from an early age how to develop processes to achieve what we want: a new toy, a better grade, and a new friend. Both as children and as adults, we identify objects that we think will bring us joy, meaning, and fulfillment—and then we aim to get them.

The problem is that most people are aiming for the entirely wrong things. In fact, when I meet with people who are unfulfilled, they’re shocked when I first tell them this: “The reason you’re not successful is that you haven’t looked within yourself.” We’ve been conditioned to look outside of ourselves to find joy, meaning, and fulfillment through the acquisition of objects: things. We find an object that we want, and we go after it, thinking it will bring us success and happiness. In reality, the only way to find joy, meaning, and fulfillment is through self-discovery.

This scares most people. The concept of self-understanding—the process of looking within and discovering your true self—is daunting because it’s unchartered territory. It directly opposes the strategy of object or things acquisition that we’ve been conditioned to use from birth. As a result, the fear of self-discovery can be profound. But it’s not insurmountable. Once you conquer the fear of self-discovery, you will begin your journey to find joy.

The most common question I get from people who fear self-discovery is this: “Will I like what I find when I get to know myself?” I can always guarantee that they will like their true selves better than what they will become in a world that goads them to strive for false achievements.

Of course, the most widespread false achievement of all is financial success. We are led to believe that money equates joy, fulfillment, and meaning; that’s a complete falsehood. I meet many people who have never found financial success, but they are full of joy, meaning, and fulfillment in their lives.

To be sure, many people who have never achieved financial success—who could never get their dream job, dream car, dream home, or dream wardrobe—still discover how to be joyful. They do so by getting to know themselves. By conquering the fear of self-discovery, they learn what truly brings them joy, fulfillment, and meaning.

The first step to embracing self-discovery is to trust. Trust the path that leads to self-discovery. Trust the divine intent in your life. Trust the fact that there’s something bigger than you at work. Trust that you need to surrender yourself to the path of self-discovery in order to find your ultimate achievement, fulfillment, joy, and life success.