A Better Approach to SELF-development

breaking the rules embodiment goals my life my way podcast simple tools Sep 29, 2022

A new approach to self-development


As a self-development geek, I know I’m not ever going to stop going on self-development adventures, it’s in my blood.


What I do differently than I ever have before is be SELF guided when I do decide that I want growth in an area of my life.


The approach you take to self-development matters more than anything. The approach is what nurtures and nourishes the relationship you have with yourself - in itself, it can foster self-trust, helping you be SELF guided or it can have the opposite effect.


I summed up my approach to self-development in 3 short steps - because I like to make it simple whenever I can!


Here’s a sneak peak into the 3 steps to be SELF guided in your self-development approach ⤵️


Set your intention to curious


This is the fun part where you pick the fuel you want for the journey you’re about to take. I choose curious because it keeps me out of judgement, ignites my creativity and brings me closer to SELF.



Set your playground


This is such an important step! This is how you create your safety in this growth adventure; it’s the equivalent to going on a boat and putting on a safety jacket that fits properly.


There are 3 non-negotiable questions I ask myself in this step - that’s right, it’s all about 3s today!


🎯 3 Non-negotiable questions before starting another self development goal


  •  Where am I willing to be uncomfortable, and where am I not?
  •  What do I have the energy for at this time or season in my life?
  •  What values do I want to maintain during this adventure?


Set your self-reflection habit


If we continue with the boating analogy, this is akin to checking in with yourself to see how things are really going while you’re on the boat. Are you getting too scared and forcing yourself or are you still in integrity?


🎯 Extra tip just for you: I forgot to mention this on the podcast but one the ways I do this is by tapping in and I don’t mean just mentally but also with my body. I take pauses from the growth so that I can see what my body wants me to know.


For more deets, listen to this SELF Guided podcast episode HERE.



Hello everyone and welcome to the second episode of the first season of SELF guided. Today, we are taking a deeper dive into the ways we can approach self-development. After the episode, you will have a fuller understanding of why YOU go on these journeys and have empowering tools and questions to consider before you take your next self-development adventure.


Tell me, does your approach to self-development look anything like this?


  • All I need is to be better at this and that and then everything will be fine.
  • So and so swears by this way, so it’s what I need to have the same success.
  • There’s just this one thing about myself that’s a problem.
  • There’s a key to this, I just haven’t found it yet.


Whichever sounded more like you, tell me, how do you feel when you think this? What is the experience of this approach in your body?


Seriously, I’ve had any one of these at different times in my life and I didn’t ever think they were the problem, right, I thought I was what needed to be adjusted. In themselves, these intentions, these approaches are not really problematic, it depends on what your experience of them is. I can’t, nor can anyone else say that your experience of an approach is one way when you are the one experiencing it.


Is your current self-development approach working for you?


Let’s do a check-in right now of whatever your approach is. Consider Why do you embark on self-development journeys? Not politically correct version or the version you think is the right one, but rather, the reason you keep deep inside. 


How do you experience that approach, whatever it is? Does your body contract or expand, do your insides become agitated or release some, does the air around you feel suffocating or free, anything in between? That right here tells you everything about your approach. It especially tells you whether or not your current approach is SELF honouring.


The underlying question is “Am I doing this to fix myself or to love every last bit of myself more deeply?”


2 approaches side by side


Let’s put these approaches side by side. One approach will have you reaching outside of your grasp forever more while the other will bring you more grounded stability. The second way, has a solid yet soft landing to return to as I play and experience life, the first has me hesitating with each step for fear of losing what little footing I have.


Again, one is not THE best for all humans, though I’m sure you can tell which way I’m leaning or do my best to lean towards. I always invite you to find out what works for you.


For me, the difference is significant as it’s experienced by the felt sensation of a huge hole in first approach compared to a deep felt sensation of anchored in the second.


3 Steps for a SELF guided approach to self-development


So what are the steps to inch towards a more SELF honouring and SELF guided approach to self development?


Only 3 my friends, and they are: 


  • Set your intention to curious
  • Set your playground and
  • Set your habit of self reflection.


Setting your intention to curious


Setting your intention to curious is the opposite of looking at your self-development goal as a problem in and of itself. Meaning that thing I’m setting a goal of growth for, the way it is now, whatever the facts of it now, is not a problem. I am choosing to lean into growth or development, whatever it may be. Because if I think there’s a problem with anything, my brain goes to prove that there is one. So it will look for, sometimes even create evidence and sometimes it will even take neutral facts and make an unnecessary leap that will prove that this thing about me or my behavior, whatever, is a problem. Whereas when I ask empowering questions, my brain finds unique opportunities, they might even be right in front of my nose, but I was not seeing them before because my brain was too busy being judgy. That’s not just my brain that is simply how the brain is wired. By understanding this programming of the brain I can select the intention of curious to better support me in my journey.


This is basically the mindset piece of the equation. So let’s say I want to reconnect with my intuiting. I can go about it with all kinds of energy and what I’d like for you is to consider what energy you want fueling this growth? 


The energy here is also emotion so imagine you have a platter of all possible emotions. So let’s pick an area of self-development, let’s say you want to stop a behaviour or pattern that you take part in that you desire to stop doing. Let’s say you want to stop filling your calendar to the rim with work items and start including fun items. You could totally work on these separately but let’s just put them together for this example. 


Here are 3 different emotions or energy you could decide to approach this self-development goal with. You could go with determination which for me would drive me to do the thing without tapping in, it’s a forcing energy for me. If this sounds good for you then brilliant but for me I can see that this energy is in conflict with more important values of mine which is to be SELF guided meaning that even with the goal, I still want one of my action steps to be to check-in with myself and determined won’t fuel that for me. You could go with pressure, this would likely come from the belief that you HAVE to or you MUST change your habits NOW to be the BEST you ever. Same exercise, what does this emotion or energy drive you to do and not do in regard to your goal? Pressure fuels me to find the “right” solution and takes away all room to really experiment and so I’m likely to freeze up and keep doing what I’m doing because that’s a safer option to my brain right now. Another option is curiosity. From curiosity, I’m going to ask excellent questions, I’m going to go at it one step at a time, I’m going to check-in with my body often to see what it’s communicating to me. So my top pick is curiosity but you might decide that it’s something else for you, just be aware of what you’re choosing to fuel your adventure with. I find curiosity keeps me out of judgement, ignites my creativity and brings me closer to SELF.


Setting up your playground


I like to set up a playground for myself so there’s this boundary this buffer that meets where my comfort level is at this time outside of what I am working on. I don’t think I need to stretch every aspect of myself at once because I find it destabilizing. It’s as if I’m trying to be someone else entirely. But setting up the playground allows my body to participate more fully so my mind does not think it needs to apply survival mechanism to keep me safe as I play which would be limiting the exploration. So it’s interesting that the mind will put up these limits as protection but they keep you where you are because it’s the only reference the brain currently has that it knows is more or less safe. So these protective measures don’t actually help you moved towards anything different if that is your desire. 


If we go back to our calendaring or planning example, setting up the playground might look like deciding where your edges are, where you’re willing to stretch and where you aren’t, at least not for now. So maybe you decide that for the first week of this new goal, you play with 1 hour per day in your calendar where you do things differently. In that hour is where you don’t fill it up completely and instead play within those edges. When I did something similar to this I would start that hour with checking in with what my body might need at that moment. I didn’t pick ahead of time but I knew I didn’t need to be concerned with anything else because the rest of my calendar wasn’t at play yet. I built up my capacity to increase more of what I wanted in my days by doing it safely within my playground. Another word for this step could be boundaries or decisions ahead of time. Whatever you want to call it, consider using this prompt “what does supporting myself with kindness for where I’m at now look like?”. The possibilities of how to set up your playground are limitless so you can totally customize it to you. 


Look at it as though you were putting a self-care perimeter around the adventure. My favorite questions when I do this for myself are


Where am I willing to be uncomfortable?

Where am I not willing to be uncomfortable?

What do I have the energy for at this time or season in my life?

What values do I want to maintain during this adventure?


Setting up your habit of self reflection


Now that you are set with the fuel of your choice, mine would be curiosity and that you’ve set up the playground space for yourself, it’s time to add the habit of self reflection. Actually, I alternate between reflection and contemplation depending on what I’m called to do. In any case it’s putting in moments where you pause to reflect on said self-development so that you can once again tap into what your SELF is communicating to you. What’s the powerful body wisdom that’s being accumulated through this experience? What’s wanting to be expressed? What have you learned? What are you enjoying about the process? What would you like to pivot in your approach? How has your self concept changed? How can you support yourself going forward? 


I like to set these moments of self reflection during the length of the experiment, this really helps with pivoting and adjusting and checking in to see if it’s still for me altogether because sometimes you notice partway that you’re done or you simply change your mind.


What I’ve noticed in myself is a greater capacity to take part in my own life. I still do partake in self-development but now, I do it from a place of deep self-honouring. That means that whenever I purposefully stretch in any way, I am also purposeful in the approach because the approach is what nurtures and nourishes the relationship I have with myself.


That is what I have for you today. If you want to let me know over in the socials how you might want to make this approach yours or how you will apply it to your next self-development journey, I’d love to know. I spend my time on IG @dominiquevandal. I’d love to hear from you.


Until next time.

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