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Quotations about Self-Discovery


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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, rbrault.blogspot.com


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


You are so young, all still lies ahead of you, and I should like to ask you, as best I can, dear Sir, to be patient towards all that is unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms, like books written in a foreign tongue. Do not now strive to uncover answers: they cannot be given you because you have not been able to live them. And what matters is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then you will gradually, without noticing it, live your way into the answer, one distant day in the future. ~Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926), 1903 July 16th letter to Franz Xaver Kappus, from Worpswede, translated from German by Charlie Louth


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, empathicwriter.com


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


A 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


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


[Y]ou must learn what life is now, not from me, but from life itself; but, if you will hear an old man's opinion, I will give it you. If you think you can temper yourself into manliness by sitting here over your books, supposing you will grow into it as a matter of course by a rule of necessity, in the same way as your body grows old, it is the very silliest fancy that ever tempted a young man into his ruin. You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one. Go out into life, you will find your chance there, and only there. ~James Anthony Froude, The Nemesis of Faith, 1849, commonly misattributed to Henry David Thoreau


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 Dostoyevsky


You might say that we use ourselves to discover ourselves. ~Judith Hanson Lasater


The degree to which a person can grow is directly proportional to the amount of truth he can accept about himself without running away. ~Leland Val Van de Wall


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


Man is almost mad—mad because he is seeking something which he has already got; mad because he's not aware of who he is; mad because he hopes, desires and then ultimately, feels frustrated. Frustration is bound to be there because you cannot find yourself by seeking; you are already there. The seeking has to stop, the search has to drop.... ~Osho


It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy. ~Lucille Ball


Find what makes your heart sing and create your own music. ~Mac Anderson


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, rbrault.blogspot.com


That's not when it started, but it was one of those turning points where yet again the obvious became painfully clear to me. Roads diverge in the wood and I start climbing trees. ~Craig Childs, "About the Author," www.houseofrain.com


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, www.hawaiianlife.com


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, rbrault.blogspot.com


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


What a gloomy thing, not to know the address of one's soul. ~Victor Hugo


Knowing who you are is the best defense against who they think you are. ~Dodinsky, www.dodinsky.com


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


Better to start up a thousand wrong roads than to spend your life going nowhere because you know the way. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


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, rbrault.blogspot.com


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


Vague desires stir within me which blend together, and give birth to others which afterwards devour them. My desires are a cloud of birds whirling and hovering aimlessly; your desire is an eagle who has his eyes on the sun, and who is prevented by the lack of air from rising on his outstretched wings. Ah! if I could know what I want; if the idea which pursues me would extricate itself clear and precise from the fog that envelops it; if the fortunate or fatal star would appear in the depths of my sky; if the light which I am to follow, whether perfidious will-o'-the-wisp or hospitable beacon, would come and be radiant in the night; if my pillar of fire would go before me, even though it were across a desert without manna and without springs; if I knew whither I am going, though I were only to come to a precipice!—I would rather have the mad riding of accursed huntsmen through quagmires and thickets than this absurd and monotonous movement of the feet. To live in this way is to follow a calling like that of those horses which turn the wheel of some well with bandaged eyes, and travels thousands of leaves without seeing anything for a long time, and the bucket should have quite come up. ~Théophile Gautier, Mademoiselle de Maupin, 1835


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


Better you don't search for who you are until you know who it is you want to find. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


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


Decorate yourself from the inside out. ~Terri Guillemets


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


How do I find my tune, my song, my personal harmony that's healing because it's me? ~Terri Guillemets


All your life you pretend to be someone else, and it turns out that you were someone else pretending to be you. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


My own experience is that everybody is born with a certain talent, and unless he lives that talent to its fullest, something in him will remain missing. He will go on feeling that somehow something is not there that should be. ~Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh


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, rbrault.blogspot.com


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 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, rbrault.blogspot.com


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


One must know one's own secret. ~Swami Nithyananda


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, rbrault.blogspot.com


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



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