Ask any parent about their child’s inquisitive nature and they’ll tell you how kids question everything. They want to know all about the world around them, where they came from, and where they’re going to go.
If you answer one thing, kids will prod deeper and deeper and deeper until you can’t take it anymore. It requires a massive amount of patience because nothing seems to quench a child’s thirst for knowledge except…more knowledge
As we grow older though, we seem to lose that sense of wonder. We get stuck in our ways. We tell ourselves that ignorance is bliss. And our scope of curiosity often narrows to what we already know and are comfortable with.
I don’t think this is purely a product of age or cynicism. Yes, some people are just grumpy old farts. But it almost always comes from a place of fear.
Over time, we begin to fear the reality check that comes with accumulating more knowledge. We’re afraid of prodding and poking too deeply — especially when it comes to self-analysis.
This plays a huge role in what hinders growth and development.
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Why We Avoid Self-Analysis
Most people avoid thinking too hard about themselves because they’re scared of the truth.
The truth being that…
- You may be wrong.
- You could be doing something better.
- The beliefs you’ve held onto and identified with could be completely false or unhealthy.
It can be terrifying to face your true motivations, limitations, and insecurities.
So you go around defending your beliefs and opinions in the face of contradictory evidence. You convince yourself that your way is fine and it works for you. You set arbitrary limits for yourself to justify inaction.
When you’re forced to confront your deepest demons, you try to numb those emotions or push them away. You try protect yourself and your ego. For many, it’s easier to deal with it this way than to actually try to understand more about who we are.
Because if you admit that you might be imperfect or flawed, you see that as being a failure. But the real truth is the exact opposite.
Honest self-analysis is the only way we can tap into our greater potential. It’s what empowers us to grow as individuals.
We are inherently imperfect and naive…and that’s amazing. We will never be flawless at everything and we always will have room to improve. That’s the beauty of being human — we can adapt.
You have to accept that a yearning to understand yourself is critical to your personal happiness. It is not a sign of weakness or a lack of self-worth, but a source of immense strength.
The Power Of Looking Within
Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is a hindrance and a false safety net. Knowledge is power and that is why I question my beliefs and stance on things constantly.
That doesn’t mean I just take everything at face value. I’m a skeptic but a skeptic who seeks the truth combined with my own reasoning and logic.
By seeking out how to improve yourself, you will…
- Make better decisions. The more informed you are, the easier it is to take healthier and smarter actions in life. You will learn how to tackle problems more efficiently by playing to your strengths.
- Become adept at handling any situation. With the right knowledge, you’re prepared for whatever comes your way. You can roll with anyone, contribute to any conversation, and have the insight to think of creative solutions.
- Stop seeing your areas for improvement as a negative. When you take a scientific approach to self-analysis, you cultivate a solution-based mindset. You begin to challenge your way of thinking, test new theories, and enjoy the process of personal growth. It takes the focus off the outcome and reinforces to not take things personally.
- Create lasting self-esteem. By understanding who you truly are, you can practice putting your honest self out to the world. You then become more congruent and in-touch with yourself. And you can start to pursue meaningful experiences or connections that that make you happy.
The Questions You Need To Be Asking
Some of you may already feel like you think about yourself a lot and haven’t gotten anywhere. Maybe it’s even made things worse.
So let me ask YOU a question…what are you doing with those thoughts?
Self-analysis without action is just mental masturbation. Self-analysis accompanied by constant self-criticism is destructive.
You need to take those thoughts and test them in the real world with an open mind and without judgement. Just be curious. That’s the only way you truly grow.
Below I’ve listed some deep questions I use and examples of how you can apply them in your own life to propel your development.
“Is this really wrong (or right)?”
I use this especially when I catch myself making a snap judgement or having a preconceived notion about something I haven’t researched. A big moment in my life was when I used this to challenge my beliefs on illegal drugs being evil.
I grew up straight edge. I never smoked, drank extensively, or experimented with drugs. I believed the propaganda that all drugs were evil. When an ex-girlfriend of mine told me she wanted to try marijuana, I lost my mind.
I then called my bullshit out with this question and started researching the truth behind all sorts of drugs. I learned that many drugs were not only safer when compared to legal drugs like alcohol or cigarettes, but they had incredible medicinal and psychological benefits. We’re still discovering that many of them could be more effective than what the pharmaceutical industry pushes on us.
I eventually tested out these theories for myself. I’ve openly written about my experience with some psychedelics and how they profoundly changed me. I can genuinely say I’ve become a better person and more open-minded because of them. This is not a political statement, just my story.
“Is there new data to support or disprove my beliefs?”
As we get older, we’re often less inspired to seek out new information. We rely on old data and experiences to guide us even when there may be updated findings or methods that could be beneficial.
This is how big businesses get overthrown by startups like Tesla or Uber. If you stay complacent and think you’re a know-it-all, you’re always going to be behind the curve.
For me, this applies to my research in how to be a better teacher to my readers and my clients. I don’t get stuck on only one way of teaching dating or social skills — I constantly evolve.
I used to think it was helpful to teach guys everything I knew all at once. Then I started experimenting and instead chose to focus on core concepts, one at a time.
I used to think approach anxiety could be treated the same way for all guys. Then I started finding out they were scared of approaching for dozens of reasons — rejection, being creepy, being judged by bystanders, etc. So every situation warranted tailored advice.
I used to believe positive affirmations could fix self-esteem issues (they don’t). Then I sought out research which showed practices like gratitude and vulnerability yield much more effective results.
This question is responsible for continually making me a better coach and staying at the top of my game.
“What else can I try?” or “How can I make this easier on myself to achieve my goal?”
These are great questions for figuring out alternate methods or ideas to solve a problem. If you keep asking yourself this, you always come up with new ways to approach a task.
Many guys want to learn how to introduce themselves to women in their daily life. They try full-on introductions and decide they’re too terrified to continue. Then they just give up.
Instead, if you think about these questions, you’ll realize you have so many options. You can practice eye contact drills, ask for directions or opinions, and give compliments while passing by. You could even try choosing environments that are more hobby or interest-based where it feels natural to approach and people are more inviting to conversation.
“Am I trying to work towards a solution or am I just trying to avoid being wrong?”
I most often use these during (or at least after) fights. So many of us get into a heated discussion and lose sight of what we’re fighting for. Our emotions get hurt and we just start trying to be right instead of actually fixing the issue at hand.
Asking myself this pulls me back into my rational side. It’s helped me recognize when I was stonewalling my partner out of insecurity. It’s enabled me to admit I’m wrong to myself, drop my pride, and apologize. And in other times, it’s encouraged me to find more healthy ways to express my point of view so we can come to a better understanding.
This question alone has helped me be a healthier partner and have stronger relationships.
“How can I be sure this will happen? Have I tried it for myself and given it an honest shot?”
I constantly see men claiming you can’t just go up and talk to random women at coffee shops, parks, or stores. They say it’s weird, that women hate it, and that it doesn’t really work anyway.
Rationally, it makes sense. There’s no way a beautiful woman would want to go on a date with you after saying hi at yoga….right?
But asking the above questions has changed the lives many armchair warriors. It has changed the lives of men who constantly complain they have no women in their life and are destined to be alone.
Because that question forces them to realize that maybe they haven’t put in the effort needed to meet women. That maybe the reason why they aren’t getting what they want is because they take a passive approach.
I’ve seen those men become curious and ask someone more experienced to prove to them that it’s possible. Or ask friends to try it with them.
And that’s when they see the same truth I’ve seen for 10 years. That some women may not want to connect with you but plenty That it’s completely possible and it can’t be wrong or weird if lots of women find fulfillment and wonderful relationships from being approached.
“Why am I so insecure about this?”
I had to ask this about my height because it bothered me for a long time. I realized that what my insecurity mostly came down to was the belief that all women wanted tall men. This was especially tough because I’m naturally drawn to taller women.
Understanding that, I then set out on a path to challenge this belief. I pushed myself to learn how to socialize and meet more people. And I would often make myself talk to attractive women that were the same height or taller than me.
I learned that there were more than enough beautiful women who weren’t phased by my height. It made me feel secure in my worth and reinforce that I wasn’t limited in my romantic life like I believed.
“How can I get another point of view?”
Many people have conversations just to talk, not to listen or learn. They avoid debate and conflict. They don’t want feedback or criticism. They just nod their head when someone has a different perspective or try to force their opinions onto other people.
Whenever I have an opinion about something, I force myself to be curious about what other people think. I seek out their ideas, their thought processes, and their reasoning. It gives me a much larger picture on subjects and often provides new insight I hadn’t even considered.
I also ask myself this when creating articles or coming up with new ideas. It encourages me to seek out feedback from other people. I’ve had friends give me better headlines, help me re-write an article, or tell me that something is complete shit and to scrap it altogether.
“Would I treat a friend or let them be treated this way? How would I want them to be treated?”
So many people berate themselves endlessly and are their own worst enemy. Or they let people abuse them and justify staying in unhealthy relationships.
But when you confront that voice in your head, you start to change the tone of dialogue. You start thinking about how would you talk to a loved one in the same situation. You try to pick yourself up and give yourself more constructive advice.
This idea can be the catalyst for changing your inner critic and developing self-respect. You just need to hold yourself accountable to start asking the right question.
Question yourself, put your hypothesis to the test, and develop real knowledge about who you are.
That’s how you will push the limits of what’s possible and actually start to change the reality around you. That’s how you’ll start to trust in yourself and build a positive inner critic.
And that’s how you’ll empower yourself to unlock your true potential.