“I have come to believe that our innate purpose is nothing more than to be the greatest version of ourselves. It is a process of refinement, improvement, and enhancement. When you are aligned with this process and living your purpose, you have the potential of creating something amazing.” – Dr. Steve Maraboli; Unapologetically You, pg. 118
“[T]he greatest version of ourselves.” What a great way to look at it. Definitely much better than looking at the best we are putting forward as not measuring up to the rest of the world. There is no comparison in that statement. No pressure. It says to me, find the very best of you, listen to what your heart and soul are telling you, and put that forward to the world. Don’t live in shame or fear.
The best version of myself is not always something that I find readily available. Sometimes, the mean nasties want to lead the show, but that is usually because I am feeling shame or hurt about something related to the situation, or I’m walking into something new and feel the need to protect myself out of fear of the unknown, fear of inadequacies. I really don’t like it when I am in this mode and always end up looking back at those times with disappointment in myself and a sincere desire to do things better.
Recognizing when the best version of myself is not what I’m leading with and having the desire to do better is a great starting point, but it’s not enough. There must be action. I have to seriously look at what triggered the less than best from me and then change it. Sometimes that means looking at past painful situations that have caused me to feel the need to protect myself. Other times, it means recognizing a habit on auto-pilot and taking control of it.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks that help me find the greatest version of myself (Brene Brown, Deepak Chopra, etc.). There are many times while listening to these books that I find some things in myself that I was unaware of and that are hindering my personal development. Those moments are amazing, almost like finding the golden ticket in my chocolate bar. The lights come on and I see how whatever is in the spotlight of that discovery have effected me in so many ways, have brought about actions or stances that were not rooted in the greatest version of myself and how I can do them better.
I, also, make a practice of stalking my mind on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times throughout the day. Where am I at emotionally? Am I having feelings of shame, inadequacy, fear, disappointment, sadness? If so, how do I best move forward through my day without taking someone down to the level I am at, at that moment? Do I need to pre-warn those around me that I am having a rough day in my head and need them to tell me when I am acting on those feelings in a negative way, especially toward them or someone else, because I may not recognize it at the time? Is it a day that the greatest version of myself is keeping to myself so as not to cause damages?
I do pre-warn people when I am feeling less than great. I find that just giving the warning helps me to be more present in my actions and words, which allows me to see the negatives before they are put forward. Seeing them before I create damages means I have the opportunity to still put my best self out there instead. I also find that the days I have decided it’s probably better to speak as little as possible and keep to myself are days I make some great progress in my own refinements and improvements so that the mood seems not to last as long and I am more capable of combatting these moods in the future. This is one of the greatest versions of myself, I believe.
I also believe that this is one of those “progress not perfection” things. It takes practice to keep improving, refining, and enhancing the greatest version of myself. Listening to what my soul tells me is right or wrong is probably one of my best teachers. It gives me instantaneous feedback. It tells me when I am acting or about to act in a way that I will regret afterward. My soul also lets me know when my greatest version is what I’m leading with, what I’m acting from.
Every single day is riddled with moments where we have to choose what we put forward. It also provides at least as many opportunities to learn by example from those around us. I almost always know when I have seen the best version of someone. I think we all do. When I have seen the greatest version of someone and it is something I haven’t recognized in myself, or something I wish I did better, I have an example of how to do that. It also makes the unknown, unseen, or just plain ignored lesser versions of myself unable to hide. Once seen with an example of how to do it better, I am powerless not to change it.
The population, in general, tends to lead with the greatest version of themselves, I believe. Sure, there are exceptions to the that, but I don’t think the population as a whole should be judged by the few, though that can be really challenging at times. We are all at where we are at in our progression. What someone else’s greatest version looks and feels like will often times not be the same as what our own looks like. Some will appear to be vastly better than our own, and others will seem exceedingly less than it. I think that the greatest version of anybody is being able to just be good with wherever anyone else is in their progression, without judgement, and to be able to share our experiences from where we are and where we have been in our own progression. Take what you need and leave the rest.