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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


Endurance is frequently a form of indecision.  ~Elizabeth Bibesco, Haven, 1951


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


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


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 answer, and to the problems of your life you are the solution.  ~Joe Cordare


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"


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


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


The difficult part in an argument is not to defend one's opinion but rather to know it.  ~André Maurois


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


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


You're always in either first or fifth, but you know there's a lot of great gears in between.  ~Tony to Angela on Who's The Boss


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


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


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抰 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


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


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


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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