4 Steps To Self-Development
How to move from wanting to be better, to becoming better.
I spend a lot of time focusing my content on self-discovery and self-awareness because they are crucial to building a life rich with meaning and fulfillment. But integrating these two practices into your life is only half of the journey. The other aspect I teach is self-development. Self-discovery and self-awareness are torture when we stop our journey there. But I have found that more people get stuck in this phase because fear prevents them from making choices that lead to becoming the best version of themselves. Being aware of your emotions, thoughts, or behaviors is futile if you don’t act on your awareness. The key to self-development is making choices informed by your growing self-knowledge—choices that help you reach your deepest desires and life fulfillment.
I started to see my life really change in the ways I wanted it to when I traded in my unhelpful fears for better ones. I had the same three core fears that everyone must overcome. When I began the journey towards finding my purpose, I was working at physical therapy clinic as a receptionist. It wasn’t a bad job, and I appreciated the income it brought me. Still, I always felt incomplete, alone in my office. I started spending more time in the gym with the therapists because that’s where the exciting conversations were happening, and I wanted to be a part of it. Of course, this meant I was away from my desk and giving off the appearance of someone who prioritized socializing over completing work.
It started to make me paranoid and insecure, like my colleagues would think I was lazy and not working hard enough. So I started spending more time in my office. But each day, I longed for conversation, connection, sharing experiences and ideas. That is when I started listening to podcasts at my desk. It was the only way I could find a connection to conversation and ideas without risking losing my job. But the more I listened to them, the more aware I became that my current job wasn’t fulfilling me and that I needed to make a change. I grew more and more dissatisfied every day, and my work and relationships with my colleagues suffered. After many days of agonizing and feeling stuck, I decided to set myself free and go back to school, but I was enrolling full-time this time. I didn’t know how I would pay my bills or even afford tuition. There wasn’t a roadmap that guaranteed that taking this leap would pay off. But I became more afraid of staying stuck in a place draining me of happiness and less fearful of taking a chance even if that meant I might fail.
That one choice to leap into the deep waters of uncertainty changed my entire life’s trajectory and led me to where I am today. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a straightforward, linear journey, but without making that choice, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
What are the most crucial self-development skills? Here are some you might want to try.
1. Trade-in your fears.
We have to trade in our old fears for new ones that serve us better. If you want to improve your life, you must become more afraid of letting yourself down than letting others down. It has to become more frightening to fail yourself by not trying instead of failing by being too scared to give yourself a chance to succeed. Stagnation must become more uncomfortable than uncertainty. I can’t tell you not to be afraid because fear is an emotion that just shows up. But I can ask you to rethink what you’re more fearful of.
We have to trade in our old fears for new ones that serve us better.Arielle Davis
Fear can lead you to avoid challenges and new experiences—experiences that would help you grow and create the life you desire.
I want more for you, and I hope you want more for yourself because you deserve more.
2. Take actions that scare the shit out of you.
After you trade in your fears, you have to take action. If you don’t know where to start, start by thinking about the areas of your life where you feel most dissatisfied or like something is missing. If you dread heading into the office, it’s time to make a change. Not sure where to start? Start with finding your purpose. It will lead you to search for opportunities and resources more aligned with your values and overall happiness. \
If you’re sick of being single or feel stuck in an unfulfilling relationship, maybe it’s time to ask someone out or let someone go. Once you become aware of the areas of your life that bring you dissatisfaction, it is your responsibility to make changes in those areas.
Your happiness is yours to discover, nurture, and protect, and you do that by taking actions that move you closer to it.
Your happiness is yours to discover, nurture, and protect, and you do that by taking actions that move you closer to it.Arielle Davis
3. Talk to yourself with encouragement and compassion.
Many people find compassionate and encouraging self-talk challenging. Many of us have been socially conditioned to criticize and beat ourselves up when we make mistakes or don’t meet our self-expectations. I have said horrible things to myself when I am already feeling down. I’ve called myself stupid when I felt abandoned and heartbroken by a past romantic partner. I have called myself fat when I put on weight. I work consistently not to speak to myself this way anymore because it is unhelpful and doesn’t serve me. I find I fair much better when speaking to myself with tenderness and compassion by acknowledging that I am doing my best. It’s not easy to improve your self-talk, although exercises can make it easier. It takes practice, but it is totally worth it.
4. Practice looking for the lesson.
Life is full of twists, turns, ups, and downs. That is part of what makes the self-journey so rich with adventure and experience. But the journey is less thrilling if you see life as happening TO you and not FOR you. The truth is, every experience we have is meant to teach us something about ourselves and others. The most painful lessons are often the most profound. In 2021, after turning 30 years old, I had a mental breakdown. I was barely functioning and decided to begin taking anti-depressants. Before this, I had prided myself on being fiercely independent and dependable for family and friends. But my deteriorated mental health forced me to depend on others for encouragement and help. Fortunately for me, all of the people I had shown up for over the years showed up for me. It was one of the most devastating times of my life, but I still asked myself what am I learning. The most important lesson was that I was still lovable even when I wasn’t contributing to my relationships in the same capacity. It was a hard lesson, but it was beautiful, and now I’m grateful that I learned it. My life and relationships are so much more rich and meaningful.
When life gets hard (and life always does), ask yourself what you are learning about yourself and your relationships. What kind of thoughts are you having? What emotions are coming up? How are the people in your life supporting you or not supporting you?
Practicing looking for the lesson empowers you to grow in self-love and knowledge. Don’t see yourself as a victim that life is happening to. See yourself as a loved and constantly evolving soul that life is happening for. It’s how you choose your power.
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