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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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Last modified 2023 Oct 13 Sat 16:29 PDT

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