Oct. 5, 2021

Your Unique Design for Thriving

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A lack of self-compassion can often come from unrealistic expectations or comparison with others who have very different gifts than we do.

In this 1 year anniversary episode of the Becoming Me Podcast, I talk about why learning to understand your unique personal design can help you make your interior journey with greater grace and ease even when circumstances are challenging.

You can watch the short video message for you on the occasion of Becoming Me's first birthday by clicking HERE.

Share this episode via this episode page.

(00:01:27) - Introduction
(00:03:33) - Our Design Matters
(00:13:23) - Working With Your Design
(00:20:54) - Honouring Limits
(00:24:22) - Learning About Your Unique Design
(00:28:36) - PRAXIS: Listen. Ponder. Act
Available here.

Available here.

- As you listened to this episode, was there any point that struck you or resonated deeply with you?
- Was there something that jumped out at you?

- Can you think of an instance where you feel like you're running uphill or struggling really hard to get something done ?
- Ponder this: is it possible that you are struggling so much because how you are approaching your work, or the environment that you're in goes against your unique personal design, and you don't realize that.

- Make a commitment to yourself to learn more about your unique design so that you can love yourself better, and accompany yourself better in your interior journey.
- Write a letter to yourself if you're ready to make this commitment.
- Tell yourself that you do want to get to know yourself better.
- Maybe ask a good friend or a significant other, whom you think would be a good companion on this journey, to join you in a process of self-discovery.

For full details of this reflection prompt, please see transcript.

- Ep 6 Listening to Your Life Speak
- Ep 17 & 19 Befriending Our Limits (with Henry Hoo)
- Ep 18 You Don't Have to Care About Everything
- Ep 24 Is It Selfish to Live the Life I Want?

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Do you know your own unique design and how you are created to thrive?

Welcome to Becoming Me, your podcast companion and coach in your journey to a more integrated and authentic self. I am your host, Ann Yeong, and I'm here to help you grow in self-discovery and wholeness. If you long to live a more authentic and integrated life and would like to hear honest insights about the rewards and challenges of this journey, then take a deep breath, relax, and listen on to Becoming Me.

Hello again, dear listeners! Today's episode is a special one because it drops one day before the first anniversary of the very first episode of the Becoming Me podcast. I just want to say thank you to all of you who have been following this podcast, with a special acknowledgement to those of you who have accompanied me on this journey from the very beginning.

I recorded a short video message for all of you about a week ago, when it was the first anniversary of the trailer to Becoming Me going live in the world. If you follow me on social media, you may have already seen it, but I am linking that video in today's show notes as well, and I really hope that you will watch it and receive my gratitude.

Okay, so now onto today's episode! In episode 29, I spoke about three ways we make things harder for ourselves as we make our interior journeys. The first way is by treating ourselves with contempt, and the second way is having unrealistic expectations about the journey - about the way we make progress.

And the third way was by not availing ourselves to the help that we need. Then in episode 30, I spoke about two areas in which we often don't seek the external help that we need. In that episode, I spoke about the emotional and spiritual dimensions of the interior journey and how they are distinct from each other, and yet complement each other. And how spiritual direction and counselling are two very different, but complimentary resources that can support us.

Today, I'm revisiting the three ways that we make things harder for ourselves from yet another perspective that is really important, and which most people never give a second thought to. And that is that a lack of understanding and appreciation for our unique design can lead us to more instances of treating ourselves with a lack of compassion, having unrealistic expectations on our progress.

And how availing ourselves to the resources that can teach us about what our unique design is. And, you know, can teach us how to work with, rather than working against the way that we are created. And how that could really help make our interior journey a lot easier. Now, before I go on, I just want to mention that there are several other earlier episodes on this podcast that are related to today's discussion, and they are: episode 6 - Listening to Your Life Speak, episodes 17 and 19 on Befriending Our Limits, episode 18 - You Don't Have to Care About Everything and episode 24 - Is It Selfish to Live the Life I Want? These episodes will also be linked in the show notes for today's episode. 

And what I want to share today, can in some ways, be summarized by the serenity prayer, which I am sure most of you are familiar with.

The prayer goes; God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Why we often lose our serenity is because we lack the knowledge and the wisdom to know the difference. And we may be trying to change what cannot be changed or is not meant to be changed.

Other times, we give up and lose courage to change what we actually can change because we don't know how to effect that change in a way that honours the way that we designed - in a way that does not feel like it is destroying who we are. So, your design matters, right. My design matters. Our design - how we were created matters.

And while there are universal aspects about being human, there is also great diversity. We see this in our biology, in our cultures, in our religions. And in the many ways we experience our day-to-day living. For example, we need to eat edible, nourishing food in order for us to continue to be alive. And that is something that we need universally, right? - Food.

And yet, there is a dizzying diversity in both the types of food that's available and the ways that food can be prepared and served. And we all have our preferences, don't we? Some food is easier for us to eat than others - maybe that which we are used to, that we suit our taste. And sometimes maybe because of certain physical conditions that we may have - whether it's medical or not - it may be easier for us to digest certain kinds of food.

So, for, example, I have a weak stomach and often have digestive issues. And I have realized that eating raw food - as much as I enjoy sashimi, for example, and salads and fruit - that actually upsets my digestive system. You know, and that it is actually easier for me - better for me to be nourished and to remain healthy by eating cooked food.

And when there are times when my stomach is giving me problems - when I'm having some kind of gastric attack, for example - then eating something like rice porridge is very comforting, makes me feel better immediately and helps me to recover much faster, right? So, it's all food! Food is food and yet, there is such a difference in the kind of food that there is, and maybe even what food is suitable for each person.

Parents who have children who are picky eaters will know what a challenge it is to get your child to eat the food he or she needs to eat - especially if your kid is stubborn, right? So, what happens when you stumble upon a way of preparation, or even coming up with some kind of activity or game that gets your child to be eager, enthusiastic, and eating the food that he or she needs.

I imagine it can feel like striking a lottery, right? I don't have kids - my own kids - but I have a dog. I have a very - I have a picky eater, toy poodle called Miko, who is also in her old age now. So, I think she's becoming, in some ways, even more of a diva. And she also often has stomach issues. And now and then when she falls sick, she will have to take medication, but she hates to eat pills. Trying to get her to swallow pills when she needs to have medication is like a wrestling match to the death.

she also knows how to pretend to have swallowed the pill, only to spit it out later when I'm not looking. I've Googled and looked up YouTube tutorials, you know, on how to get your dog to swallow a pill. And most of the tricks don't work on her. Hiding it in a food doesn't work either. That is, until after a long, long time, we stumbled on steamed sweet potato, and especially Japanese sweet potato. Right - I told you she was a diva. She loves that so much that she will swallow a big blob of sweet potato. You know, she would swallow it whole, even with a pill buried inside it. Life became so much easier for both Miko and I after we discovered sweet potato. It provided me a way to get the job done with the least effort and resistance, and also improved my relationship with Miko at the same time.

Right, because while I was feeding her medicine, she thinks I'm giving her treats. So, what if this principle applies to the way that we accompany ourselves in our interior journey? What if we learned what makes us tick and what motivates us to do - even the difficult things that we need to get done. What a huge difference that would make, rather than trying to force ourselves in ways that do not take into consideration our uniqueness, our feelings. Right, and that would just cause us more distress and discourage us.

Another the topic that I think most of you would relate to: learning styles, right? - The way that we learn. It's easy to see that no one size fits all. There are people who are more visual learners, right? - You learn best when you can see. You have to be present or maybe over video, you have to see what's going on. You learn through visual mode.

There are people who learn best via auditory means, and they can learn better. Sometimes you can see these people, maybe attending talks, and they're closing their eyes. They're not actually watching the speaker. They may not even be looking at the slides, but they learn best when they can just pay attention to what they're hearing.

Right, and they're also kinaesthetic learners, right? People who learn not so much by just watching and listening, but they need to practice it. They need to try it out and then they understand, and then they pick it up. For example, do you read instruction manuals carefully when, let's say, you purchase a new equipment - okay, a new machine or equipment?

Or do you jump right in and try to figure it out on your own and only check the instructions when you need it? I mean, people usually fall into either one of these camps, right? But both ways can be legitimate; in the sense that you can get it done. Of course, we tend to judge people in the other camp, but that's just one example, right?

Learning speeds and rhythms, they defer too. Our education systems and most institutional approaches to formation don't take this kind of diversity into account. But given the space and time and correct alignment to a learner’s learning needs - their preferred modes - anyone can learn, you know? It's just that when we do things en masse, a lot of people are left behind.

But in the context of our own journey of becoming ourselves, right - in the context of Becoming Me, we are speaking about our unique interior journeys and learning to help ourselves make this journey. Now, this is not like a big group project. You know, you don't have to take care of an entire class. This is just one-to-one attention between you and yourself.

Are you willing to make the investment in time, in energy and in resources to learn how to help yourself flourish? When we learn to do this for ourselves, it becomes easier to extend the same kind of understanding and compassion towards others as well, eventually. Okay, so I find that the more attuned I am to my unique design, and recognizing how working with, rather than working against my motivations and my strengths helped me.

The more aware I am when I'm either teaching or journeying with someone - or even in the example I gave earlier, you know, in caring for my pet - the more creative I become, and often the easier it becomes for me to get what I need to do done, because I pay that attention that is needed in trying to understand the other person.

Right, and it helps me to have compassion also, when things don't go as I expect - if I can recognize that it is they are designed differently than me. So, here's a thought experiment: how do you feel about planning out a project in great detail beforehand? So, that you cover all the bases and so that you can execute things, you know, steadily and slowly and thoroughly. How do you take to routine?

Does having a routine make you feel empowered? Do you feel like routine stifles you? How do you feel about surprises? You know, unexpected developments coming up that you did not plan for? How good are you at adapting to sudden changes and emergencies? 

Now, as you listened to me ask those questions, each of you would have either, you know, a feeling of, "yes, that feels right for me. You know, I like that. Or you know, "that's what I do". Or you could be feeling like, "oh no, I hate that", right? I mean, "that makes me uncomfortable". Some of us would thrive in one kind of environment, while others will struggle. So, apart from knowing our design, right - our strengths, our temperament, personalities, and what drives our motivation - the environment that we are, in the context that we are in, that matters too. 

How aligned is your environment to the way that you're designed? What expectations do you have of your own progress and performance? And do you ever take your design, as well as your environment, into consideration? So, for example, if your environment and the way that you're designed to, they are very closely aligned, you probably would be performing a lot better, making progress a lot easier. 

But if your environment and the way that you're designed are misaligned, well, you're going to be having a much tougher time. Can you offer more grace to yourself when there is misalignment? And can you do something about changing your environment, or changing the way that you approach how you do your work, or how you approach your journey? - If there are aspects of your environment that you're not able to change. 

I know this all sounds very abstract, and it's hard for me to unpack all this, let me use podcasting as an example. So, I've been doing this for a year now. And I've tried different ways to make this process easier for me. That saying, when I embarked on this journey, I did not realize how much was involved in this process, that goes against my strengths and my preferred ways of working.

So, I did a lot of research. So, I'm somebody that enjoys research, okay? I like to always search and consult our Google, you know, what are the best practices, for example. And a lot of advice regarding podcasting, has to do with batch processing, right.

So, they say, you know, you are going to be a lot more effective if you kind of schedule a routine and you do episodes by batch. So, for example, you write the scripts or write the points for a few episodes at a time; five episodes, for example. And then you set aside another day or another two days and just record all five episodes, you know?

And then after that, you schedule another time, and you edit all five episodes. So, you kind of - you batch process because there's so many steps to producing an episode, right? So, that's one of the best practices that are often shared by people teaching and giving advice on podcasting.

And that makes sense because that kind of processing, or the kind of working is disciplined - you know, it's routine, and it's steady and it works well in theory, at least, because podcasting requires consistency. And actually, many aspects of the process is very routine, right.

Other than the fact that the content changes - you know, what I want to speak about changes - but really, almost everything else is the same kinds of steps I have to go through every time. So, to go from zero to publishing an episode and then publicizing it, there may be about, I think about 10 steps. Now I've kind of refined it to maybe about 10 steps.

Right, but I have to go through them every time I do an episode. So, my challenge is that I do my best work when I'm deeply inspired, right. When I feel that it is the right time to write or speak about something, sometimes I just get this compelling sense that, oh, this is what I want to talk about.

And this is how I want to talk about it. And usually those are the episodes where I enjoy myself the most. And I also get feedback that, you know, they are powerful episodes. But this is organic. I mean, inspiration is organic and dynamic. It cannot be planned in - I cannot plan to be inspired for five episodes on let's say, next Monday.

So, and because of the kind of the content that I work on for Becoming Me, that makes it even harder to just plan ahead. Because the interior journey is so rich and complex. And there are so many layers and dimensions to it, you know? I'm using a lot of intuition to kind of like sift through, you know, how - what would be better to talk about first so that, you know, the listener can segue into the next topic or the next episode without being too shocked, you know?

Like, so just to give you an example, the episode I'm recording of right now was not actually planned. It was a last-minute insertion because I kind of feel like it's too abrupt to go straight into the next episode, which actually is already prepared.

And so, kind of like, you know, close to the last minute or no less than a week before this episode is airing. I sat down and I worked through what I felt was like a missing gap. So, that, I personally feel that it's easier to follow the flow in the podcast. And so that I can introduce to you something that I feel is very important in a gentler way.

Right, so that's why today is just introducing you to the understanding that we have a unique design - each of us have a unique design. And how knowing what the design is can help us work with ourselves in an easier way. Right so, I get tired easily from podcasting because a lot of the work required in it does not play to my motivations and my strength.

So, scheduling for example, and following a fixed schedule and editing the recording so that the message is conveyed effectively and is pleasing to the ear - that all requires work. That requires attention to detail, which taxes me. I have been asked before by some friends, like, you know, why do you edit? Why can't you just keep it raw - you know, unedited. And I don't know what to tell you, but there's a huge difference, okay? There's a huge difference because, I think, of the nature of the kind of thing I'm talking about, especially for solo episodes, right. So, that there is a flow when you listen.

So, that there are no like, awkward, like really super long kind of like pauses. And also making sure that the volume, and maybe any irritating artifacts are controlled and moderated. Because for me, when I'm the consumer, when I listen to podcasts, those things matter to me, it gives me - it makes listening to that episode a better experience, okay - and a better learning experience. 

And sure, I sometimes would still tune into podcasts that I listen to more for the content than the production quality. But let's just say that, you know, for me, when I am presenting something, I enjoy making it a more pleasant experience for the person who is receiving.

Okay, so that's the part that I'm motivated to do. But the work that's required to do that, in the context of a podcast, requires a work that drains me. But what keeps me going is learning to leverage on what actually motivates me. So, just like I said, when I imagine that this is being delivered to someone who is hearing it, listening to it - when I think of the person who is on the receiving end of it, it makes me want to make this a pleasant experience for you. Right, so it energizes me to keep improving my workflow so that, you know, the process becomes more efficient, more friendly to myself so that I can keep doing this.

And because I am deeply motivated to communicate and to teach effectively, that desire to reach out to you, to let you have a good experience in listening to me - that helps me to get through the grunt work. But because I am also very aware of my limits. I mean, you know, it just comes to a point when just too much is too much.

And I know that I'll be burning out if I keep going at that. I have found a virtual assistant. A lovely virtual assistant whom I pay - not very much - but to help me edit and publish the transcripts for each episode. Okay so, each episode for Becoming Me, there's actually a transcript and it's timestamped.

At the start I did this because I thought I had a software that, you know, helps me to Auto-generate a transcript. But there are always a lot of errors and there's a lot of editing that must go into it. It was just getting too much for me. I also heard from quite a few different listeners that they really love having the transcript for them to refer back to, right - or to take notes.

So, again, my motivation to help you learn - because the whole point of this podcast is to accompany you and coach you and to help you learn, right? So, that motivation meant that I decided - okay, I know I can't keep doing this. I'm going to burn out, but this is important enough that I wanted to try and make it happen.

So, the solution then would be to delegate it; to find someone who is willing to do it for me, right. And someone, even better yet, whose own motivations and design and temperament is aligned to this kind of work. So, my virtual assistant, she really enjoys helping me edit the transcript. She finds it therapeutic to do that.

So, she's happy to help me, even though I can't pay her very much. That's one example of kind of like understanding my design, right. And trying to align my design with the outcome that I'm trying to arrive at. And finding ways to work around when I know that I can't keep doing it without harming myself.

Right, so that's the way that I found to protect myself from burn-out. And finally, I mean, this is not just with regards to podcasting, but you know, in general. When I know my limits and what drains me, it allows me to plan ahead for more time when I know that I need to do work that taxes me.

So, for example, if I know that I have to do editing work for the podcast. Well, I'm going to set aside, you know, like a half day, right? It is that time consuming, right, for me - because it tires me. So, I want to be able to not rush myself because I'm not that great at it. So, when I have more time, I'm less stressed about doing it.

And then, because doing that even with more time drains me, I know to allocate some time for recovery afterwards, right? I'll take a break, a longer break before I do any other work. And as much as I can, I will follow up a day - let's say lot of editing and detailed work that drains me - I'll follow it up with a day that is better aligned with my strengths and my motivational design, if possible.

Such as reading and learning because I love doing that and that's relaxing for me. Or doing consultative coaching - doing one-on-one coaching or teaching. These are all work and activities that energize me. 

So, fulfilling our purpose while also honouring our wellbeing, requires us to know ourselves and our limits well and knowing how to align our design to how we live and how we work.

This principle is so useful. It extends even to how we exercise and how we worship and pray. But that's really for another time, okay. I hope one day to be able to talk about how this applies to other areas. It would take a lot more time to talk about what kinds of resources we can use.

You know, there are so many different tools and instruments out there that tell us about our strengths or our temperament or our personality. But after years of my own experimenting. So, you know, trying out different instruments for example, and see how much it helps me. And then my own observation of how it helps other people, how it actually plays out, and then my own, you know, research because this is an area of interest for me. 

I decided to invest in learning in greater depth and in getting certified in just a couple of instruments. So, the MBTI is one of the instruments that I decided to learn in depth and get certified in. And the other one is called the Motivation Code (MCode). Okay, so I'm not going to be talking very much about these right now. But in the coming episodes, I hope to unpack more of these and share them with you.

So, there's also a third process that I decided to get trained in, which is the Called and Gifted Spiritual Gifts Discernment Process for Catholics. So, that's more explicitly for use within a Christian, a Catholic spiritual context. But together with the MBTI, the Motivation Code, the spiritual gifts discernment process really helps an individual come to understand their unique design and discern how the life and their story is meant to be a gift to the world in an unrepeatable way. 

So, there are many dimensions to the interior journey. You know, there's also the dimension of healing and needing to know how we need to grow in wholeness or let go of some old scripts, right? But a lot of times the old damaging scripts are related to a lack of understanding, in terms of how we are uniquely made. And maybe sometimes other people's lack of understanding. 

So, for example, a parent who wants to teach us out of the best intentions, but they are trying to form us in a way that that goes against our temperament or our motivational design. And so, instead of us thriving, we may actually feel very - you may feel stupid or incapable, you know? - Not enough, less than. And we may never recognize that we actually do have gifts.

It's just that those gifts that we have were not recognized by our caregiver as gifts, right. So, that comes from a lack of understanding of the diversity and the uniqueness that each person has, right. So, there's a reason - I guess I'm just sharing this to say that there's a reason that I chose the specific instruments that I did get certified in and get trained in. And in the next few episodes, you will actually hear a conversation that I had with Dr. Joshua Miller about motivational design and personal vocation.

So, Dr. Joshua Miller is related to the person whose work started the whole process of what is now called the Motivation Code. It's a kind of narrative way of looking at our life stories and looking at what motivates us.

So, that conversation that I have, or that I had, actually, with Dr. Joshua Miller, will start off a new stage on this podcast where I will begin to delve a little more deeply into how to understand our unique designs, and how that impacts our interior journey. I will just try to introduce some of the things that I have found helpful in making the journey a little easier for myself. 

So, as we wrap up here are the praxis prompts for today's episode. One: Listen – as you listen to this episode, was there any point that struck you or resonated deeply with you? Two: Ponder – can you think of an instance where you feel like you're running uphill, you know, struggling really hard to get something done - and you just feel like you must be a terrible failure or you're just really stupid or not capable?

Then, then ponder this. Is it possible that you are struggling so much, not because you are stupid or incapable, but because how you are approaching your work, or the environment that you're in goes against your unique personal design, and you don't realize that.

Three: Act – I invite you to make a commitment to yourself to learn more about your unique design so that you can love yourself better, understand yourself better, have more compassion for yourself. And thus, accompany yourself better in your interior journey. This will ultimately be a long - you know, lifelong process - but it starts with you getting that this is an important thing; that it could really make a difference.

And then wanting to do it and becoming committed to finding ways to learn more about yourself. I invite you, in this third step of acting, to write a letter to yourself - you know, if you're ready to make this commitment, make it concrete. You know, tell yourself that you do want to get to know yourself better, to come to understand yourself better, so that you can love and accompany yourself better.

And even better yet, you know, after maybe writing that letter, if you want to do something even more concrete, maybe ask a good friend or a significant other whom you think would be a good companion on this journey, and to join you in a process of self-discovery. A lot of times going through maybe some courses or reading a book, you know, is a lot more fun when there is someone else that's going through the same journey with us, and then somebody who speaks speaking the same language, right.

So, that could be something that would make it more interesting for you. Remember that serenity comes when we have the wisdom to know the difference between what we need the courage to change, and what we must accept and honour about ourselves.

So, here's to wanting to understand ourselves better so that we can help ourselves thrive.

[00:31:29] CONCLUSION
Thank you for listening to Becoming Me, where new episodes drop every first and third Wednesdays of the month. Remember, the most important thing about making this journey is to keep taking steps in the right direction. No matter how small those steps might be, and no matter where you might be in your life right now, it is always possible to begin.

The world would be a poorer place without you becoming more fully alive. Don't forget to visit my website at becomingmepodcast.com and to subscribe to my newsletter as well as to this podcast. Until the next episode, Happy becoming!