Self-discovery critics

If you are even reading this, chances are that you are not completely convinced that self-discovery is a bad thing or a less-than goal. But you may bump into some people who feel that way. Lately, in my reading, I have. Here are a few objections you may encounter:

1. Self-discovery isn’t all that important

There are thousands, even millions, of other things that you could be doing right now. You could be writing a cheque and sending it to a worthwhile cause. You could be talking to your family and friends. You could be active in your church. You could be serving your community. You could be building a house or baking some bread. You could be playing tennis or walking the dog or shopping for groceries or raising money for the poor, etc. The list of things that you could be doing right now is endless, much higher than I can count early in the morning, anyway.

But that is actually the point. The idea behind the self-discovery emphasis here is to help you know how to determine what you, as a unique human being, should pour your energy into. Rather than running all over the place doing what everybody else thinks you should be doing, why not take some time to figure out what you think you should be doing?

2. Self-discovery is a selfish activity

Is it? Always? I suppose it could be. If, for example, some obsessive-compulsive person reading this decided that they were going to focus on this one thing, this one thing only, until the end of time…yes, that might look a bit selfish. 

“Nope, can’t help with the supper dishes, honey. Don’t you know that I am reading my self-discovery blog!” Or, “Not going to work today, dear. My new self-discover CD’s just came in the mail and…do you think you could make me some lunch while I watch them? Oh, and Dave called, and it looks like our self-discovery safari in Tanzania is a go. You and Carol and all the kids will have a great time while we’re gone, I’m sure.”

I wouldn’t argue with anyone who suggested that you and I have a tendency to fixate and focus on ourselves. Doesn’t everybody have this problem? But this human fault can take 18 million different forms. Is it just found during a journey of self-discovery? May I suggest that it can be found everywhere, even in the midst of what may appear to be a very altruistic and other-centered activity.  

It could be odd to read what I am going to say next. And I don’t mean to suggest that this is always the case. It is just that being accused of selfishness can be a self-serving and manipulative technique people use in an attempt to get you to do what they want you to do – right now. A truck load of false-guilt can come in handy if you are looking for volunteers for a pet project. Enough said.  

3. Self-discovery opposes God-discovery

This criticism may be the one that is implied the most, and it needs to be considered. For self-discover can appear to be, and often is, an activity embraced because of some God-denying humanistic philosophy. Self-discover or self-actualization is endorsed by many people who seem to have little interest in, or respect for, talk about God’s intervention in human affairs. After all, the standard approach to determining a career direction (i.e. discover, explore, plan, act) looks like the same-old, same-old, secular approach to life.

 God has been edited out yet again. How convenient.  

If you are walking on a tightrope, and starting to lean dangerously in one direction, a friend may understandably call out, “Lean the other way!!” But the appropriate thing to do, of course, is to lean the other way only for as long as it takes to acquire your balance again. It is dangerous and foolish to emphasis human self-discovery to the extent that you completely ignore the most powerful creative being in the universe. At the same time, it is dangerous and foolish to ignore yourself, to neglect your responsibilities, and to live out your days being oblivious to your unique design.  

It is worth mentioning, in conclusion, that everything good can be bent and bruised and twisted into something that is less-than good. But this constant danger does not mean that we should all abandon our pursuit of what is good. So may I encourage you to carry on in your journey of self-discovery, and to make sure that you keep this discovery process in perspective.  

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