7 Rules of Self Discovery

Hardly anything else reveals so well the fear and uncertainty among men as the length to which they will go to hide their true selves from each other and even from their own eyes.                    ~ A.W. Tozer

To help us remedy our inclination to hide our true selves from each other and even from our own eyes, Tozer came up with The 7 Rules for Self Discovery:

1. What we want most
2. What we think about most
3. How we use our money
4. What we do with our leisure time
5. The company we enjoy
6. Who and what we admire
7. What we laugh at

A. W. Tozer wrote this inventory long before the self-help sections began to overflow at Borders and Barnes and Noble. I decided to concentrate on the one question that might give me the most insight about myself and to choose the question that might help me tell me the most about another.

I learn about myself from each of Tozer’s 7 Rules, but for me, #2 is the most revealing.

What do  I think about the most?

More and more, I see the value in taking inventory of what I chose to think about, and in becoming increasingly conscience of where my mind tends to wander when it’s not called to active duty.

I can be surprisingly unaware of where my unbidden thoughts linger. The more I’m cognizant of what I’m thinking, the more I learn about myself, my heart and my true values.

Since I can’t know anyone else’s mind or motives, for insight into others I pick # 7.

What do they laugh at.

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? There are a myriad of subtle and sometimes not so subtle things we can learn about each other based on what we laugh at. Laughter reveals more than just our sense of humor. Attitudes, opinions, prejudices, and values that often remain veiled in conversation, crop up in laughter. What makes us laugh reveals a corner of our unspoken hearts.

If I’m going to grow in grace, then I have to concentrate, not just on grace, but on growing. One aspect of that is following Tozer’s prompts for self discovery and another is to pay closer attention to the hearts of others.

Do you want to weigh in? Which two do you find most most telling? What do they tell you about yourself and about others?

Author: Debbie

A former counselor and public speaker, I'm grateful for many, many things - God's grace most of all!

39 thoughts on “7 Rules of Self Discovery”

  1. Hi Debbie, WELCOME! Thanks for subscribing to follow my blog. I hope you are encouraged, inspired and enjoy the pictures and experiences I have during my journey through these retirement years. Looking forward to sharing many post in the future.


  2. Thank you for sharing, Deb

    Much to think / wirte about…. Would I be ‘brave’ enough to share my findings? I think not.

    I will file this one for my To Do’s when this current wave of Must Do’s settle down.

    You make me think. A lot. (Too much maybe? 😉 )

    Thanks for the pokes.


    1. Ann –
      I hope I’m gently poking (you and me both), but not prodding.
      I’m honored that you read than that you linger over the thoughts (mine and others).
      Thank you, dear Ann!
      ~ Debbie

      1. Thanks Deb 🙂

        Didn’t feel prodded at all (at least not by you. lol)

        Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks in ways and places we least expect.

        God bless you, sister-friend.

        Happy to come and read – I learn much from you and your readers.

        [ If your blog was a place in my home, it would be the bay window that looks out to the backyard. Gives us a great picture of what the weather is like outside. There are days when it shows bright sunshine, other days we see snow. Both serve different purposes and are much needed in their own timing. I have never seen a snow angel in July and there seems to be something magical about White Christmases … 😉 ]

        In other words, I appreciate the gentle pokes from you and the prodding that He brings through your sharing.



    1. Linda –
      I’m wondering how you’re coming along with the questions?
      I rework them every now and again – seems I need to keep getting check ups, even when I think I’m healthy. 😀
      ~ Debbie

  3. Gracious one. . . I find that I stink at these self examination things. And I don’t know what that says about me.haha! Except that I do like to laugh at myself and make Aub laugh. And that Sis Caddo is so delightfully funny, that she lifts my heart and brings a lot of joy and laughter into my life. I find I need that . . .alot! I thought I signed up for your Fork blog, but must not have. I so think I need to. God bless you and your desire to live grace! -the other deb

    1. Dear Deb –
      I find people who can laugh at themselves to be my favorite, by far! 😀
      I think laughter is a life-line God throws to us in the most unexpected moments – possibly to help us keep perspective and to show us a glimpse of the joy in His love!
      ~ Debbie

  4. Debbie–this is an excellent post for those of us whose “hobby” is self-examination. I’m going to have to think about it more than a little before saying more–though for starters, I laugh like a hyena at so much, that I don’t know how you’d determine what any of it says about me in particular. See you soon–God bless you Big.

    1. Caddo – I’m pretty sure your laughter would tell pleasant things about you! 😀 To quote Quincy Jones:
      I’ve always thought that a big laugh is a really loud noise from the soul saying, “Ain’t that the truth.” ~Quincy Jones
      Keep thinking, but take lots of laugh breaks!
      ~ Debbie

  5. This is good Debbie. I have to say I agree with your thoughts.

    I find my thoughts going to past insults, hurts and pain, and my mind goes to things I wish I could say to those that are responsible without my realizing it. I then have to reel myself in and put my mind on the Lord – asking for help in blocking out those thoughts.

    And I agree on the laughter of others. I find so many times that what others laugh at is a very telling indicator of where their hearts lie. There are too many that laugh at cruel things and dirty jokes and things that make others look bad but themselves look better.

    Great post.

    1. Drusilla, I’m so glad for your admissions in the first paragraph–so now I can bravely say, “me too” with no small amount of shame. Thank you!

    2. Thank you dear Drusilla! I so value your open responses.
      There are times when ‘taking every thought captive’ is a little bigger chore than I bargained for. 😉
      And there are times when I see humor that’s so cruel or crass and I start thinking about how cruel and crass the person is who is expressing it and then I’m right back to ‘taking every thought captive’ again! Do you know what I mean? I have to keep saying “Grace, Debbie, grace.”
      ~ Debbie

  6. You’ve gave me some serious issues to contemplate this morning. I don’t like some of my answers. Thank you for bringing these things to the surface.

    1. Dear Debby –
      I’m at an age and stage where one of my concerns is that I don’t become complacent in this place of grace. I appreciate thoughtful questions like Tozer’s that won’t allow me to just coast. I love your honest heart.
      love and grace to you, dear friend,
      ~ Debbie

  7. Deb, I think the one about what makes us laugh is really the most telling. Oddly enough, even though I don’t like viral video “fails,” I do love to see “bloopers” from t.v. shows. Maybe because it isn’t making fun of anyone, but laughing at the situation.

    I also love funny t.v. commercials like the AT&T “that’s so 27 seconds ago.” Am I painting myself too lowbrow? 🙂



    1. Ruth –
      I thought Tozer’s inclusion of what makes us laugh was a brilliant insight.
      Because of my job, I don’t watch any live TV so I generally fast forward through commercials. However, my current favorite is also from At&T one: the silent treatment. I love her expression. Non-verbals tell 90 + percent of the story – of course that’s a little more difficult to read over the phone or on line.
      If you’re too lowbrow, I’m going provincial with you! 😉
      Love to see you here, my Jersey friend!
      ~ Debbie

  8. I love the writings of Tozer, I have a number of his books. The most recent one I read was “The Pursuit Of God” Based on Psalm 42:1 “As the hart (deer) panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee.” Thank you for sharing this post.


  9. This is awesome, Debbie. You are right #2 is the best one to focus on, at least for me. I tend to be a worrier, and I need to stop and check my thoughts … turn them around to more positive faithful ones. Thank you for this insightful post.

    1. Lori – Tozer was a wise man. For me it was guilt.
      I used to be a professional guilt gather (guilt glands located somewhere in the thigh area). I think I was born feeling guilty. I had to get really, really old – like just a few years ago, before I became aware of how guilt is like gutting a fish. It takes out the insides and leaves only the skin.
      Thanks for joining in the conversation! It’s great to see you!
      ~ Debbie

  10. Wow early morning deep thinking
    I agree with you Debbie – What I think about the most and I love to see what others laugh “at” especially children – sometimes I’m laughing with them and sometimes I am shocked at how cruel laughter can be!
    God Bless your day

    1. Hello Susie –
      Laughter. like words, can be a messenger of such joy or such pain. We know to be careful about what we say. Possibly, it would a good idea to take stock of what we laugh at and why.
      God bless you, as well, my friend,
      ~ Debbie

      1. So true – laughter can be a friend or a cruel nemisis
        Taking stock of our self is a good suggestion and something we all need to do – sometimes minute to minute

  11. Tozer was such an amazing thinker! Thanks for sharing this!

    I have read that the thing we catch ourselves thinking of, repeatedly, when the mind is disengaged, is an idol. I’m sure there are exceptions to that clue, but it sure sobered me to read it.

    I love your insight about laughter. Amazing how easy it is NOT to laugh at a joke if I am the victim of it, right? Our laughter does reveal our character and our inner sensitivities or lack of them.

    On #5, I wonder what it says about a person who most enjoys e-company?

    1. Hello Katharine!
      Tozer came up with a list that is as basic as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
      I had no difficulty knowing that the area that is most telling for me (and I think for most) is what I think about and where my mind tends to drift on it’s own.
      Once I became aware of that, I had to spend a good deal of time “taking every thought captive” or regret and guilt would have sunk my ship.
      I thought his inclusion of what we laugh about was brilliant.
      Laughter unmasks the soul.
      Thank you for your reflections!
      #5 – I’ll give that some thought. 😉
      ~ Debbie

  12. LAUGHTER! OK, Dearest Debbie, what kind of freak am i because i think 30 Rock is the funniest show on earth. Course i love Colbert Nation and the John Steward show. And, here’s the sick laughter (if you’re not already grossed out) is FARGO. One of the bloodiest movies around, but the satire of the Minnesota accent slays me. Lord does that mean i’m a bigot? Or just a silly arse?

    This i know Debbie, I either try to make people laugh, or find something that makes me laugh … and if i go too long without laughing, i’m in deep doo doo.

    Thanks for these great inventory questions. Happy freakin’ Monday, … not THAT’S funny 😉 OXO MEL

    1. Oh Mel –
      I think the ablilty to laugh, particularly at ourselves is a great gift!
      Abraham Lincoln, who I think is greatly misunderstoond – but that’s a post for a different time said:

      “With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.”

      You read Fork, so you know how much I value laughter and being able to find humor in irony. I have difficulty with anyone who laughs at someone else’s expense – which doesn’t describe you at all!

      I find Tozer’s questions to be an interesting way to examine what we value and where our hearts rest.

      Keep on laughing, my friend.

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