There’s a lot of talks out there about becoming the best version of yourself. The idea is that there is a better version of you underneath the current one and that there are practices and life choices you can make to uncover it. Your perception of this new improved you may be rooted in circumstantial changes, or it may be that you feel there are latent or hidden talents and skills waiting to be utilized.
When looking to become a ‘better’ you, you may wish to develop your emotional capacity. You might do so by becoming more caring, thoughtful, expressive, or considerate. Perhaps you aspire to be a better listener or more generous or altruistic toward others or society. If wishing to develop intellectually, you may like the idea of being more knowledgeable, engaged, articulate, outgoing, or charismatic. It’s also normal to feel the urge to better yourself physically; for instance, It might benefit you to cultivate better physical shape through being more active or embracing healthy practices. Maybe you simply like the prospect of being more trendy or physically attractive.
There can certainly be many beneficial consequences when you make the effort to change what is not serving you in your life. However, this isn’t always the case - so it helps to take an honest look at your motivations before embarking on any course of action.
What causes us to look for the ‘better version’ of ourselves?
Sometimes life gets uncomfortable, but when you think about it, dissatisfaction and discomfort can serve as motivating forces. It can take boredom, frustration or even depression to motivate us into making positive changes that will yield more appealing results in the future. This quote by Cynthia Eden, author of ‘Burn for Me’, says it all: “There is no growth without pain. No Life without suffering.”
In fact, this is a common theme in spiritual teachings from around the world: the notion that without becoming tired of our current circumstances and ways of being, we will have no desire to change anything. Nobody gets through life unscathed, except for maybe an extremely privileged few. However, even for those few, a lack of challenge does not necessarily equate to personal freedom or guaranteed happiness.
It’s worth noting that there are times when people strive for improvement mainly because they don’t appreciate what is already great about their lives – or their personal qualities. That’s why it is wise to get familiar with your deeper motivations before embarking on a journey of self-improvement. This is the most sustainable route to the better version of you.
It does seem to be human nature to strive for growth and development. The thought of repeating the same behaviors or activities over and over throughout the course of our lives may be daunting to some. We like to see what we are made of, and discovering that can only happen by setting new goals, trying out new things and pushing our own boundaries. In this way we develop new skill sets and understand our own capacities (and let’s be honest, occasionally limits too). In this way we may discover hidden talents, or even just preferences or direction.
Ultimately these things not only shape our lives, but also our sense of self. We are finding out who we are. This could be the number one factor behind striving for growth and development. We are defining and redefining ourselves through our lives, based on what seems to be an innate urge. If we never responded to this urge, we run the risk of becoming bored and frustrated - perhaps even depressed, eventually.
Since the only constant in life seems to be change, it makes perfect sense that at times, life is going to stagnate if we don’t go with this flow. When we resist change because we are fearful of the unknown, or the changes aren’t in line with what we initially imagined, we are essentially arguing with reality. Your feelings are a useful guide, not something to be shut down or transformed into something more palatable… and when you don’t like something, you have the power to change it.
Do you need to discover the better version of you?
When you are feeling that you’re not doing as well as you know you’re capable of doing – in whatever area of life - it might be time for a little self-reflection. This way you can get to the bottom of what can and should be changed, and why.
Self-reflection leads to self-awareness, and could have you asking yourself questions like, What choices did I make that brought me to where I am now? Would I do anything differently with the benefit of hindsight? All that has gone before can be seen as a learning experience; life was teaching you about what you want and don’t want for yourself, be it behavioral patterns, ways of thinking, relationships, or other personal circumstances.
What felt ‘right’ before may now leave you cold, so rather than worrying about what is ‘wrong’, it is healthier to try being grateful for the ability to see where there is room for improvement. The future is a blank slate, there is no point harboring regret, and there is never a better time than now to start reinventing yourself.
Sometimes habits and behavioral patterns have become so ingrained that we can’t see the woods for the trees. The hit and miss approach to change probably isn’t going to be the most fruitful, as it’s rooted in desperation to get away from the present moment… whereas spending a reasonable amount of time assessing your life and behavior, owning up to less beneficial choices, and analyzing why you made them in the first place gives you a much higher chance of making good decisions ongoing.
Understanding personal motivation is the key to change
As we mentioned at the start, there is nothing wrong with wanting to become a better version of you. However, there are times when your motivations might be based in something unhealthy, and if you act on them without awareness, you may find that you end up repeating the cycle.
Here are some examples of when the motivation to better yourself may not be in your best interests:
Changing primarily to please others can be self-destructive. In some instances, others may have your best interests at heart; let’s say they know that your habits are self-destructive. Even then, you should be changing for your own sake and your relationships will then improve naturally. There are some things its OK to change - but not if it compromises who you are.
Each of us has innate, unique skills and capabilities that are different to others’. This is a necessary part of life, and it makes more sense to discover our own rather than force ourselves to chase someone else’s dream.
Some are looking for esteem in status or merits, or seeking external validation through new behaviors. Both make for a temporary fix and soon enough, the pattern will repeat. Genuine self-esteem comes from embracing and using our inherent strengths, as well as working on the negative mindsets and illusions that hold us back.
Fear tends to lead us into rushed decisions, and financial gains are very attractive as they symbolize resources and freedom. Nobody wants to struggle; however, there is no point becoming frustrated when you can’t find the opportunities that lead to a life of luxury overnight. For many, this isn’t the path that will benefit them the most in terms of growth. We’ve all heard tales of lottery winners whose lives were ruined by having too much money, bizarre as that sounds.
There is nothing wrong with self-improvement per se, but actually becoming the best version of yourself – and sustaining it really depends on what is motivating this ambition.
In a nutshell, when seeking to find the better version of you, it is important to understand what it is you want to change about yourself or your life, and why you want to change it. What is that need-based in and what do you envisage in terms of outcome?
We’ll be writing more discovering your best self shortly, so watch this space! Click here to know the ideas to become the better version of you.
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