Research Paper About Self



When we’re on the right path, it ain’t hard…it’s happy.  ~anita

by Anita C. Powell


“The human heart in on a quest for happiness.” Kelly, M. (1999)

There are four dynamics to the human person:  physical, emotional, intellectual and Spiritual.  These dynamics within the human person, individually and collectively aspire to represent the goodness and fullness of Life and to help others represent the goodness and fullness of Life.  And like sands in the hourglass, so are the many ways to represent and manifest the fullness, the goodness of LIFE.

The most important lessons we can teach ourselves are who we truly are, what we are here to do and how we are to do it.  Self Discovery/Awareness provides us with the answers to the basic of questions:  Who (the individual – Clarifying Creativity), What (To Do – Mission), When (During our Lifetime – Professing our Purpose), Where (Our environment, be it on a petite or grand scale), Why (The Reason – Purpose & Passion), and How (Our Strengths/Talents – Passion & Validating our Vision).  As important as these lessons are, many of us are unfamiliar with the road in which we travel, what we are here to do, who we are and these lessons may go unrealized a lifetime.

According to Life Span psychologists, humans continue to evolve and learn until the day of transition.  As such, there is not an age when we automatically discover (or re-discovered) ourselves, or stop to aspire to achieve.

In order to fulfill the aspiration of helping others, we need to identify our own uniqueness, desires, needs, values and worth to create a lifestyle that will allow our dynamics to live in harmony.  There is a peace that comes from knowing and accepting who we are and what we are doing is our purpose.  Discovering who we are is the beginning of experiencing harmony and feelings of timelessness. There is a joy when we pursue what we want to do v what we have to do.  When my twin girls were born and while rearing them, I often heard women say that having children means sacrificing some part of their life.  I never felt that I had to sacrifice anything raising my girls. In fact, I believe it was the love of my girls that brought out the desire to own my own.

Positive Theory Psychologists state, when one is truly ready for a thing, it puts in its appearance.  In 1998 my Spirit led me to leave the Michigan Department of Corrections after 19 years of service; in this case, the thing being entering a world of entrepreneurialism.  In order to pursue a passion, validate a vision, profess a purpose or manifest a mission, we must first and foremost clarify our creativity.  In fact, the very first principle in Life coaching is “to know what we want”.


Often times we attend these wonderful, dynamic, motivating seminars and workshops and participate in inspiring and stimulating visualizations only to arrive home to realize our vision isn’t clear at all.  We have no idea what we’re here to do and how to do it.  For many years I thought I was alone in this arena of self unawareness, because I was too embarrassed to admit the unseen vision.  Only recently, and after the completion of obtaining my Life Coach certification did I have the self assertiveness to share my “secret” with others.  Sharing my dilemma, I discovered that I was not alone by any means, and that I as well as some of the people (specifically women) I had spoken with had a common thread:  (Of course, these signs may be expressing symptoms that should be evaluated by a health-care practitioner)


  • A chronic experience of stress (low self efficacy)
  • A sense of being lost (confusion)
  • Low level of self esteem (whether practicing self assertiveness, self integrity, self acceptance, self responsibility, living consciously or living purposefully or a combination of same)
  • Lack of physical energy (fatigue)
  • Low tolerance levels (easily become irritated with others)
  • Participating in self-sabotage behavior (from gold to brass)
  • Low to Moderate levels of anxiety (fearful of the future)
  • Low to Moderate levels of depression (reliving the past)
  • Musculoskeletal aches and pains (emotions stored in this vital organ system/chakra energy)

In light of this discovery, I decided to proclaim my niche in Self Discovery, with emphasis primarily on women age 45+.  I decided to focus on women age 45+ given my own personal experience. I’ve recently discovered (unveiled) the passion I’ve always had of helping people via motivation and my interest has geared toward the Spiritual/Intrinsic dynamic of human nature.


However in my passion to assist others in honor and pursuit of self discovery, I recognize coaching can only be effective when:

  • the client recognizes a need for change
  • the client is willing to change
  • the client believes s/he is responsible for the change
  • the client believes in the change
  • the client is committed to change. In addition, I also understand
  • that the client is to maintain control in all collaborative communications,
  • a client must be acceptable to coaching
  • the coaching realm is the present and future.


Coaching is not counseling nor does it provide therapy.  As such, a Coach should have readily available a roster of mental health-care professionals in an effort to assist an individual in need of such therapeutic services. In addition, coaching is ineffective if a client is unwilling to receive coaching services, and if the coach does not have a clear program designed to assist a client in whatever niche or speciality s/he has chosen.

COACHING PURPOSE:  (Niche:  Self Discovery/Awareness)

To be effective, a Life Coach needs to fulfill the four categories of competency.  These competencies include setting the foundation, co-creating the relationship, communicating effectively with the client and to facilitate learning results.  Life Coaches motivate and guide individuals in honor and pursuit of their purposes, passions and missions in both personal and professional life.  Using an assortment or specific programs, activities and tools, Coaches assist clients in problem solving, goal obtaining and how to recognize, eliminate or minimize unproductive behavior and restricting fears.

Engai CT (Creative Thought) Academy can assist clients by establishing a trusting relationship, remaining sincere in the quest of working as a team for both client and coach in self discovery.  In addition, it is important for a coach to have the ability to empathize with a client, via personal knowledge (life experiences) to manifest purposeful outcomes during the duration of the coaching program.  Moreover, Engai CT (Creative Thought) has created tools, activities and models to help the client begin to clarify her purpose and mission thereby having the vision to create a mission statement in less than 25 words or less.   Creating a mission statement in 25 words or less creates a clear content and validation for the client.  “If you can see it, and believe it, then you can achieve it” – Rev. Jesse L. Jackson/Rainbow Coalition.

Self Discovery is beautiful in the finding of self, during the journey and when reaching destinations.   It is beautiful in that it can lead one to tap into unveiling natural talents – our creative.  It helps to discover our own individual uniqueness and power.  Self Discovery opens the door to becoming the very best of ourselves.  It immerses us in a way of life that balances the dynamics of our human person.  It empowers and frees us to nurture and nourish our legitimate needs encompassing our emotional, physical, intellectual and Spiritual self.  Getting to know our legitimate needs, deepest desires and unique talents, brings the clue that which the Creator has placed within us to help us discover our destiny and become the best version of ourselves. (Kelly, M. 1999).

Benefits of coaching in Self Discovery & Awareness is that it can put us on the path to being mentally healthier; physically healthier as well.  The more we accept, honor and love ourselves, we are more inclined to eat better, exercise, want to socialize more and feel beautiful on the inside and out.  Effectiveness may help the client reduce:

  • A chronic experience of stress – Stress is feeling an inability to cope with minor and/or major upsets and annoyances. Self Discovery increases our level of self esteem, which includes self efficacy.
  • A sense of feeling lost – Awareness of strength and talents brings with it a sense of self confidence and purpose.
  • Low level of self esteem (whether practicing self assertiveness, self integrity, self acceptance, self responsibility, living consciously or living purposefully or a combination of same) Valuing self reduces low self esteem and raises self efficacy and self respect.
  • Lack of physical energy – Self Discovery puts a pep in our step. Discovery brings confidence – confidence brings an appreciation of our mind and body.  As such, we take care of our body by exercising, eating right and getting if not the required 7.5 hours of sleep, we are close to it.  We recognize proper sleeping habits allows the body to generate the healing process during sleep.
  • Low tolerance levels – Self Discovery gives us a true sense of empowerment and as such our tolerance level is at a level where we are able to understand and empathize human behavior and not receive everything as personal.
  • Participating in self-sabotage behavior – Being aware of Self, we are able to recognize and correct self-sabotaging behavior. We also appreciate and welcome the opportunity to help others (via product or service), rising to levels of unfeared and unfettered success.
  • Low to Moderate levels of anxiety – Fears of the future creates anxiety. Self Discovery helps us to become aware of our capabilities and our ability to handle and face life’s obstacles and recognize challenges are opportunities for growth.  Self Discovery also teaches us to live in the present moment, to be at peace and experience freedom in the present moment.
  • Low to Moderate levels of depression – Depression is thinking about past hurt, disappointments and failures. Self Discovery brings us into awareness of our uniqueness our worthiness to love and be loved.  That the past is simply that…the past and not part, nor has influence of our present.  Self Discovery also teaches us to live in the present moment, to be at peace and experience freedom in the present moment.
  • Muscular aches and pains – Emotion arises at the place where mind & body meet.) Self awareness awakens our knowledge enabling us the ability to purposefully address areas where our body may be experiencing tension.  As an example, tense shoulders may be a sign that one is practicing limiting belief and low self esteem in the area of self responsibility and assertiveness.

Additional reasons for Self Discovery:

  • The Mind, an instrument of the creation of ideas and the manifestation of those ideas. What we focus on becomes our experience of life.  Thoughts of yesterday is life today (Powell, AC 2015).  Learning to choose the thoughts to think and how we make decisions (visionary, technician or manger) is discovery, discipline and mastery.

*The Visionary is able to see the big picture that is in our immediate or distant future.

*The Technician is the worker bee, who gets distracted with minute details when decision making.

*The Manager makes decisions based on past unfavorable outcomes.

  • The Heart, the center of our physical being and contact with our world. An open heart vibrates at the level of compassion and caring that draws love into our life. A loving and compassionate heart is a great gift for all humanity.
  • The Body, energy and information. A healthy cared-for body can make life a wonderful experience of joy and pleasure.
  • The Spirit, unlimited source of power and life force. The inner knowing and the connection with the Universe.  When aligned with our Spirit, we are able to live the freedom we are meant to live.  In the “silence, solitude and simplicity” of stillness do we experience the beauty of clarity.


Self Discovery awakens the passion we have within us leading to self fulfillment and satisfaction.  It can lead one in the right career path, it can improve familial and social relationships, make one a healthier individual, can help to maintain homeostasis of our vital systems, improve memory both physical and mental, bring us closer to our Creator (however our vision), uncovers the necessary and unnecessary cautions we measure in decision making, and in essence discover who we are.  A lack of knowing self lessens self efficacy and self respect; it may also cloud both abstract and logical reasoning, resulting in some form of depression, anxiety or a feeling of isolation.

Self Discovery propels us to look inward to discover our natural creative – our strengths and talents.  Once unearthed, we are able to discern and choose which path is the correct path.  Basic, simplistic questions may be answered such as, do I enjoy working as a team member, or prefer being independent?  Do I prefer working with my hands or thinking with my mind.  Am I artistic or scientific?  Self Discovery helps us to uncover which style of learning in which we excel.  Becoming aware of this learning style is a significant component to selecting a career path, as well as realizing our excellence. For instance, I am a visual/verbal/kinesthetic learner.  I am more apt to build by looking at a picture on a box, more so than reading the instructions that it contains; I enjoy teaching, working with my hands and presenting information; and have a propensity to use prop (non technical) and hand gestures when communicating with others, especially when presenting.   As such, my service to others is that of a nontraditional Teacher, Advocate and Life Coach.

When we know who we are, we are able to give of ourselves more without feeling a need to sacrifice.  The ability to empathize (unlike sympathize) is prevalent, as well as recognizing the unimportance of what others think of our uniqueness, our character, our values and critical thinking.  When we are comfortable and accept ourselves (even in the midst of changing unwanted flaws, habits, etc), we are able to honor another and in turn bring people in our lives who honors us and love us for who we are.  Moreover, when we are comfortable with our true self, those that are not of that particular type of energy will leave our lives with an ease and a joy.  As the saying goes…”just went in different directions”.


According to Life Span psychologists, humans continue to evolve and learn until the day of transition.  As such, there is not an age when we automatically discover (or re-discovered) ourselves, or stop to aspire to achieve.  As an example, Ichijirou Araya was 100 years old when he climbed Mount Fuji.  Acceptance makes all the difference in our confidence and self-esteem.  Love ourselves and others will follow, no matter who comes along, just know that no one will love us like we love ourselves.  Getting to know ourselves is beautiful and never ending, and assists in the advancement and fulfillment of every aspect of our lives.

Values, dedication and passion propel us in defining our definite steps.  In learning about ourselves, we trust our intuition and welcome the ability to tap into our inner treasure map for guidance.  Own ourselves, our thoughts and our mind and there’s no thing anyone can do or say that take us away from ourselves.


Components and the process to Self Discovery are many; however, I find the following chronology has aided me while passing through the seasons and its continuum:

Clarifying our Creativity.  In order for us to have a clear intent (vision) of who we are, we must be ready, willing and able to welcome and honor who we are and change that which we resolve no longer serves its purpose in our heart, soul, body and mind.  Our thoughts are our ally, once we are in control of them and not them of us, we are empowered with authority to create our physical surroundings as we wish them to be.  The intent must be clear.  We must clarify our creativity.

Validate our Vision.  Once the intent is clear, we have to believe with Faith and Trust in our strength and talents – our valued contribution to this mother earth.  We are to recognize that our strengths and talents are our outward expressions in forms of accomplishments, and that they are directly connected and Divinely linked to our passion.  As we discover more about whom we are, our creative becomes more defined and our purpose becomes clearer.

Pursue our Passion.  Our passion is defined by the things we think are important (our needs and values) which are to be nurtured and nourished.  By this, I reference realizing the importance our needs and values are to survive and yet to surpass on to thrive.  Once we honor our valued being, our manner of expression; that we are gems among the treasures of society, we, with assurance of ourselves are motivated to spend time learning more about, participating in, recruiting others for and even willing to take certain risks for what we believe in.  Pursuing our Passion is the “How” we are to serve humanity.  There is a paradigm shift; we value our thought, our capabilities, our abilities and willing to share them with others.

Profess our Purpose.  Our purpose is “why” we’re here.  As stated above, we are here to represent the goodness, the fullness of Life and help others represent the goodness, the fullness of life and on and on and on. And like sands in the hourglass, so are the many ways we may represent and manifest the goodness, the fullness of LIFE (Love Imagination Faith Expression).  Our purpose is To Be of service to others; our creativity, vision and passion shows us how.

Manifest our Mission.  Our mission is to be of service.  Having a clear visual of our purpose is the beginning in manifesting our Creative Expression to being of service to ourselves and others.  It’s what we’re To Do, whether on a grand or petite scale, the value and importance is the same.

I’ve often been asked “How” one gains Self Discovery.  The steps/tools I use and have incorporated into my LifeStyle, as well as introduce in my Life Plan Program are:


  • Contemplation: Taking definite steps to thinking in the present moment.  No worries of the past nor trepidation of the future.  The ability to think in the present brings energy of freedom, reduces stress and elevates a sense of contentment.
  • Meditation: Listening to our Gentle Voice, our guiding force.  In the quiet is where we find wisdom, solution and peace.
  • Prayer: Trust and faith is essential to experiencing intrinsic freedom and extrinsic manifestation.
  • Declaration: So it is written, so it is done.  A declaration makes a powerful statement from the mind, to the hand (to paper) and from the mouth. Calling it into existence.  What the mind believes will achieve.  I AM, I WILL, I CAN
  • Gratitude Journaling: Writing is a very powerful tool of self discovery.  The very process of putting words on paper brings up things we may not have even known were there, allowing new information to surface.  Writing what we’re grateful for on a daily basis, helps to keep us centered, in the moment and propels us to move forward to manifest and express gratitude on a continuum.


The most important lessons we can teach ourselves are who we truly are, what we are here to do and how we are to do it.  As important as these lessons are, many of us are unfamiliar with the road in which we travel, what we are here to do, who we are and these lessons may go unrealized a lifetime.  There are formulas that can help us achieve the Wisdom of ourselves, affording us the opportunity to pursue our purpose, understand our uniqueness and manifest our mission.

We are here to represent the goodness and fullness of Life and to help others represent the goodness and fullness of Life.  And like sands in the hourglass, so are the many ways to represent and manifest the fullness, the goodness of LIFE.   Self fulfillment is the journey and destination…Self Discovery is Beautiful & so are You.


Amatullah, A., Universal Coach Institute.  Online Coaching Practicum, New York, NY.

Bernard, J. Ph.D., “The Benefits of Self-Discovery”.  Blog. 24January2009

Branden, N., “Six Pillars of Self-Esteem”.  Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., New
York, NY (1994).

Gerber, M.E., “The E Myth”. Harper Collins Publishers. USA (1986).

Kelly, M., “The Rhythm of Life”.  Simon & Schuster, New York, NY (1999).

Powell, A.C., “Reflections of an Angel” Morris Publishing, Kearney, NE (1998).

Tolle, E. “The Power of Now”. Namaste Publishing, Vancouver, B.C., Canada (1999).

Recommended Coaching Model: L.I.F.E. Self Discovery Coaching Model
Recommended Tool: L.I.F.E. Self Discovery Tool

Anita C. Powell
Dream Weaver
Master L.I.F.E. Coach, UCI


Self-directed learning is a model of instruction whereby learning content is pre-determined by the instructor and students learn at their own pace to master this content. Characteristics of self-directed learning include personal autonomy, self-directed learning, learner control and auto-didaxy. Additionally, self-directed learning has become a generic training model for business, medicine and adult education. Problem-based learning also incorporates elements of self-directed instruction in its model. Assessment tools are available to measure the impact of self-directed learning, such as the degree to which people perceive themselves as having the skills and attitudes necessary for successful learning.

Keywords Auto-didaxy; Autonomous Learning; Learning Self-Awareness; Problem-Based Learning; Resistant Student; Scaffolding; Self-Directed Learner; Self-Directed Learning (SDL); Self-Directed Learning Perception Scale; Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale; Student-Centered Learning; Under-Prepared Student

Teaching Methods: Self-Directed Learning


Self-directed learning (SDL) is a teaching model that goes by many names: individualized instruction, student-centered learning, and prescriptive learning (Piskurich, 1994). While self-directed learning is predominantly viewed as a model of instruction, other educators see self-directed learning as a goal, as well as a process, where self-directed learning becomes a catalyst that promotes life-long learning among students (Boud, 1988; Candy, 1991; Knapper and Cropley, 1991; Kreber, 1998). When viewed as a model of instruction, learning content is pre-determined by the instructor and students learn at their own pace to master this content, with or without the aid of the instructor.

Educators’ Views of Self-Directed Learning

Knowles (1975) describes self-directed learning as:

[A] process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes (p. 18).

The self-directed process model is based on the interaction between students and educators, as students gradually develop autonomy in their own learning process. Pilling-Cormick (1997) states that the overriding framework of the self-directed learning process is that students direct their own learning. Self-directed learning requires a paradigm shift away from teacher-centered approaches to learning, where the teacher imparts knowledge to the students. While self-directed learning can be implemented at any grade level, the adult is the optimal learner for this method of instruction. Knowles' (1983) view of the adult self is one who can take responsibility for learning, by becoming autonomous, independent and self-directing learners (Taylor, 1997).

Bartell (1971) views self-directed learning as a philosophy rather than a method of instruction. Teachers must philosophically assume that students are capable of taking responsibility for their own learning. The teacher becomes "a consultant, tutor, listener, catalyst, or partner in learning" (p. 247). They are engaged in a process of mutual inquiry with students rather than transmitting specific knowledge (Taylor, 1997). The purpose of this method of learning is to teach students to become learners who are able to diagnose and supplement their own learning deficiencies (Schmidt, 2000). However, for many students, processes like setting goals and sustaining motivation do not occur naturally or easily. Therefore, the learning environment and teaching practices must be designed with intention to support students' self-regulated learning (English & Kitsantas, 2013).

Robotham (1995) sees self-directed learning as a catalyst for further self-initiated learning in a field of study. The students who develop certain skills through self-directed learning methodologies will understand their own learning process and how to improve that process so that they can transfer this fundamental understanding to future self-directed learning experiences. Through reflecting upon their self-directed learning experience, they can consider what motivates them to self-direct their learning, and the processes through which they become self-aware. Skills that increase students' ability to engage in this type of autonomous learning are: reading skills, deep-level approaches to learning, comprehension monitoring, the ability to ask questions, and critical thinking (Kreber, 1998, p. 325).


Self-directed learning resulted from the rapid change and growth of knowledge that has occurred in today's world. People must continually update their skills and this can be done through self-directed learning programs and experiences. Over the past few decades, attention has been paid to learning that needs to occur without the benefit of constant interaction with teachers. The origins of self-directed learning can be traced to John Dewey (1916, 1938). As Wilcox (1992) states, Dewey asserted that all people are born with an unlimited potential for growth and development. Through education, teachers can best facilitate growth and development by neither interfering with nor controlling the process of learning. Self-directed learning theory and models emerged in the 1970's as a prominent model of instruction in adult education practices. Knowles (1975, 1983), Tough (1971) and Candy (1991) led the field in developing the conceptual framework for understanding self-directed learning, embracing four distinct elements of SDL:

• Personal autonomy,

• Self-management,

• Learner control, and

• Autodidaxy.

Self-directed learning requires certain behaviors and characteristics of the student who is involved in the process. Okabayashi and Torrance (1984) state that such characteristics include abilities:

• To sense the relevant and important information in a task;

• To access source information;

• To think independently and follow instructions and rules;

• To recognize and accept responsibility for one's learning; and

• To self-start a task.

Students who possess these characteristics possess "learning self-awareness." They have an appreciation and understanding of how they learn, of their learning capabilities, and of the outcomes that they want to achieve (Robotham, 1995, p. 3).


Teaching SDL

Teachers who are committed to self-directed learning value students' individual differences (McGaghie & Menges, 1975). Della-Dora and Wells (1980) state that there are guidelines teachers can follow to assure that their students are involved in successful self-directed learning experiences. Teachers must set realistic limits and teach students how to make solid decisions about their learning processes. Teachers must afford themselves of training so that they can teach students how to be successful self-directed learners. They need to know what is to be learned, how it is to be learned, and how to evaluate what is actually learned. Specific areas of training that will aid teachers in enhancing the learning process for students involved in self-directed learning include understanding:

• The dynamics of individual and group decision-making processes;

• The sequence of events that students need to carry out a step-by-step plan of action; and

• How to develop criteria (Dell-Dora & Wells, 1980).

Teachers must achieve a balance of flexibility for students to determine the appropriate processes for learning and to keep the program and students on track (Robotham, 1995).

In any self-directed learning experience, teachers must set up the program so that students can be successful learners. Generally, teachers scaffold lessons, providing sufficient guidance and direction in the early stages of the model so that students do not get lost. Teachers should clearly communicate aims and objectives periodically so that students can undergo the transition to learning material on their own terms. Throughout the self-directed learning process, teachers should provide periodic evaluation and identify potential problems along the way (Robotham, 1995).

Using SDL for Business Training

Self-directed learning has become a generic training model for business. This model of learning can be an essential component of an employee development strategy that both improves individual performance and achieves organizational goals (Long & Morris, 1996). The model is designed so that trainees work at their own pace to master pre-determined material, with little or no help from an instructor. Piskurich (1991) states that consistency in training must be a common goal of all participants in order to be successful in the self-directed learning process. Unsuccessful SDL training will not work well if the training is done too quickly, if trainees are required to work alone, if the material is always changing, or if consistent performance is not a goal of the learning process. In the business world, SDL can be very successful if there is an adequate analysis of the material and of the trainees before the training process. Trainers must analyze the audience and determine the amount of preparation needed so that the trainees can be successful in their self-directed learning process. The trainer must write solid objectives that encompass the dimensions of the material, determine the media format or how materials will be delivered, review all aspects of the program prior to its implementation, and pilot the program to determine its "ease of use," as well as whether it does all it is supposed to do (Piskurich, 1991, p. 48).

Problem-Based Learning

Problem-based learning has been linked to self-directed learning models, as the skill base emphasized in self-directed learning is also prevalent in problem-based learning (Ryan, 1993). In problem-based learning, students identify the problem and then engage in self-directed learning to solve the problem (Margerson, 1994). Other elements of self-directed learning that are included in problem-based learning are: setting objectives, accessing materials, and reflecting on learning...

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