What it means to be “the best version of you.”
Hello there, and thank you for joining me today.
I’m so excited to speak with you on this podcast.
We are going to talk about being the best version of yourself.
That phrase is used in awful lot. Maybe it’s kind of ambiguous. Kind of vague.
So, we’ll talk about a couple of ways we can interpret that statement and come up with some steps you can take toward that goal.
Have you ever heard of this statement Become the best version of yourself? It seems to be used more and more today.
I heard it from a leader at church.
I’ve heard it from life coaches and have heard some say that this is the purpose of life.
I probably heard it from a lot of my teachers, and I’ve heard some say this is the purpose of life. To be a better version of you, or to be better tomorrow than you were today. Better today than you were yesterday. Just be a little bit better.
You don’t need to be perfect. But, if you’re always making little progress, there you go.
My 6th grade teacher, Diane Tiessen always said, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” By saying that, I think she meant that same idea. That we must be alert and take action in our own lives, and that we are the person who will make all the difference in bringing our thoughts to into reality, and in getting things done.
What do you think it actually means to become the best version of yourself? And, how do we become the best version of ourselves?
First, let’s begin with what it means.
The first possibility, is that it means that we each continually grow and develop, becoming better than we were in the past, in all areas of our lives. It isn’t a suggestion that we perform at 100% capacity all day, every day. Frankly, that would be exhausting, right? But we seek to generally become a little better incrementally, every day.
Every human being on earth has unique traits. You do. I do. My neighbors too. My family members do. In fact, if you ever look at your family members, it’s pretty obvious we are all totally unique. There might be one trait in common with some other extended family member, but no two family members are exactly alike. Right?
So we all have internal traits like thoughts dreams dispositions attitudes personalities some of our traits are physical like maybe we look a certain way. We have certain height, hair color, etc. We might have certain abilities and skills. We each have values that we uniquely embrace. Those concepts we care most about. We also have character strengths.
If you want to do a character strengths inventory and see what comes out for you, I have a free link on my website, Dr. B coach.com, under the “free tools” page to the VIA Character Strengths Inventory. You’re welcome to stop by and check it out. It’s wonderful. Very useful.
So, we all have character strengths. And, they come in a different combination for each of us.
We have specific communication styles.
We have ways that we perceive things and process information.
And we all learn in different ways. For example, some of us learn by seeing things, observing things, reading things. Others actually learn by doing them physically–like kinesthetic learners. Some of us learn from others’ experience, and yet other people have to learn by doing it themselves. And that’s just the only way they will learn anything.
So, we are all very different in all of these ways.
And the many different traits within your and which comprise who you are show up in us as a unique combination that make you YOU.
And who you are right now is someone amazing and complete, right as you are. And at the same time as you are already amazing and complete, and you’ve done great up till now just as you are, at the same time, in each area of life that you have, there is still the potential to further develop.
Yet, in each area of life, there is still the potential to further develop. To grow. To enhance natural abilities that you have. To train them, and become proficient—even expert at things.
These things can be areas like managing one’s temper, controlling inner thoughts, developing physical abilities, like running faster, growing endurance, creative areas like being able to create art works, or perform or compose music. Or sing. Or play it on an instrument, and so forth.
So there are lots of ways to continue growing, even if you think you have no aptitude at all in certain areas, still one can be developed. There is still potential to grow and always the potential to make more progress.
Becoming the best version of yourself is not really a target. It’s not an end goal. It’s not a destination. I’d like to propose to you that becoming the best version of you is instead a journey of constant growth and self-mastery.
If you take this journey, eventually you will be able to look back to your younger, less experienced self, and see that person you used to be as very familiar, because you’re still YOU.
But you’ll notice that especially in certain areas, you’re also distinctly different. And there will be things that you no longer recognize about your past self because you’ve transformed in so many ways. Changed so much.
I can attest to this similarity of our younger selves despite growing and evolving, because I’m a person who has kept personal journals pretty much my whole life. So there are times when I haven’t been so good about keeping a journal, like I might have gone month or two without writing much. And then there are periods where I’ll write multiple times every day for weeks and weeks.
It just depends on time I have available, my need for reflection and thinking through things on paper, and also whatever is going on in my life. If it’s an especially tough time, I tend to write a little bit more than when things are just going easy and everything’s great.
So, I can look back at the journals from my college days when I was 17, 18, and 19 years old. I used to write a lot in my journal about the kind of person I wanted to become–character traits I wanted to grow and develop. And things that I just thought about all the time.
And when I read those things now, I am really struck by how similarly I think about things because I’m always thinking, “Wow, I just came to this really mature, evolved thought” about something. And yet, I’ll go back to those 30-something-years-ago journals, and I’ll read them and think it just sounds like me.
I am amazed at how much we change and grow and evolve and become even better, and yet there are these threads that make us US that we can still recognize from long ago.
And it’s kind of like if you run into someone that you knew in your school age days as an older adult. There are a lot of things you recognize that are unique about them that really stand out and make you love seeing them again.
So that’s what I’m talking about. Right.
So that first possibility of becoming the best version or becoming a better version of yourself is that you continue to grow and develop in each area of life, developing mastery, basically.
The second possibility of what it means to become the best version of you, is to operate primarily from the higher brain—rather than from that part of the brain that reacts based on mental patterns of the past. It’s a little more scientific sounding. And, I’m going to refer to a couple of different authors and brain concepts on this one.
There are a lot of different parts of the brain–I’m not a brain expert, so the things I might say are going to be very general.
The idea in neuroscience talks about the higher cerebral functions and higher cortical functions. And neurologists and neuroscientists refer to these things as conscious mental activity, like thinking, remembering, reasoning, and doing complex, what we call volitional behavior, like speaking and carrying out purposeful movements.
So when we’re learning a new physical ability, like maybe ballroom dancing would be a great example, we’re thinking about the steps. The way to hold the arms. And the posture. And the flow of the dance partner. And we’re kind of consciously moving our body. Purposefully. And pretty soon, when we practice ballroom dancing enough, we can do it, listen to the music, get lost in the flow, and it doesn’t have to be conscious anymore. So it goes into the lower part of the brain that is driven by patterns, repetition, and impulse. Right.
So becoming a better version of ourselves might have a lot to do with operating more from the higher brain function area, where it’s intuitive but also thoughtfully done. So we’re intentionally doing things. We’re thinking through, “What would be my best reaction in this scenario if I want to feel better?”
“What thoughts do I need to think instead of just kind of going with whatever we’re feeling and not backing up to think about our thoughts?”
So when we talk about operating from the higher brain, two authors come to mind.
One that I read a lot from is Dr. Susan Jeffers. She wrote a book called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. It’s about turning your fear, indecision, and anger into power, action, and love thoughtfully.
Here are some ways to do it in the section about your inner void on page 199 of this book, if you ever pick it up. She has a section called “the choice is mine.”
So I’m just reading a little paragraph under the heading “why choose to be right instead of happy when there is no way to be right.”
And here’s what Susan Jeffers says:
“Having experienced life from the vantage point of both the chatterbox and the higher self, my choice is the latter.”
So Susan Jeffers refers to the brain chatter that kind of talks us out of things and wraps up our fear as the chatterbox. Some people call this your inner thoughts, your inner voice, your self talk, and so forth.
She says, “I will do whatever it takes to open myself up more and more to the mind and heart, filled with love, joy, creativity, satisfaction, and peace. That is my goal. And having used the techniques in this book, I have traveled many miles toward that goal. I look forward to many more I intend to go. I trust we will meet along the way if we haven’t met already.”
So she had a list here of two sides of things. These are the choices of when you’re tuned into self-doubt or reaction mode of the lower brain function, and when you tune into your higher self which really leads to the best version of you. This is the higher brain and it’s also the intentional thinking.
So first I’m going to read the first column. And these are just many of the things that I do if I’m tuned into my lower brain, or my chatterbox.
- I try to control
- I don’t notice my blessings
- I need
- I’m insensitive
- I’m in turmoil
- I’m blocked
- I don’t know that I matter
- I repel
- I take
- I am bored
- I am empty and filled with self-doubt
- I am dissatisfied
- I have tunnel vision
- I wait and wait
- I am helpless
- I never enjoy
- I’m always disappointed
- I hold resentment
- I am tense
- I am a robot
- I’m being passed by
- I am weak
- I am vulnerable
- I am off course
- I am poor lonely and afraid
So when we operate from the intentional part of our thinking…
Some shows on like we love dancing with the stars we also would watch a show called America’s got talent years ago there was another one there was a talent oriented show something about stars a can’t remember the name of it
But all throughout our marriage we have watched these shows. And every week we will record them. We will watch them together. It’s our together time and I think that’s because when we met initially and got married it was over love of music, and we were both playing the piano together.
And so we kind of gravitated towards these shows where people are showing off their talents. They are growing talents and they’re displaying it for the world. So it used to be kind of fun for us to watch the shows, and we would act like we were the judges.
How many of you have done that out there?
We would watch the show and say, “Well that was good in this way…” or “that was bad in that way…”
We used to do that a lot. We’d still do sometimes, but now we also try to really look for the good in things more, because we don’t want to just critique only.
But it was so much fun to look for the flaws in every performance.
And it’s pretty easy to do that from the couch when you’re not there playing the game.
Now if you’re the one on the stage then you have a voice of authority. Not sitting in the critic’s seat, you’re playing the game and you have a better perspective on whether not something should be critiqued as you’re operating more from the higher brain area.
And the rest of us are just sort of reacting from our lower brain, so I find that interesting that the critiquing of others when we’re not part of the game does come from that lower space.
But it also tends to be this idea that the brain quickly finds flaws, because the brain wants to solve problems.
It’s an amazing thing. So if we wanted to solve problems in a positive way, we actually have to intentionally do things. Thoughtfully program it to think different thoughts and choose different things.
I’ll give an example of this. So one day last week, I was a little bit dragging. I was laying in bed awake. It was time to get up. I could tell the sun was even out, which meant it wasn’t super early in the morning anymore, and I was laying there thinking about how I felt physically sluggish.
And I did not want to get out of bed. But I had a lot of things to do during the day that I was looking forward to.
So in that moment, I paused and thought, “If I don’t kickstart my brain to be happy about getting up, I’m going to have a really hard time. I’m going to drag all morning and to get very little done.”
So I just kinda said to my brain, “I am super excited about what I get to do this afternoon later, after the work is done. So I’m going to pretend to be happy and excited, and jump out of this bed and then just get going.”
And it did work for me. It was great. Actually it helped me out, and by the time I was sitting down to do my work, I was pretty cheerful.
So I know it doesn’t come naturally, but when I practice it, at least it gets a little bit easier.
Now I’m going to quote another author here, and this is Shad Helmsdetter PhD, who wrote Negative Self Talk and How to Change it. I really like what Shad has to say in here, and if you have this book, it’s around page 63.
This is the section about how in your brain, positive self talk is contagious. So before I tell you what he has to say, if you don’t know this already, the brain is fabulous at carving neural pathways. So neuroscience tells us that our brain likes to carve neural pathways and develop patterns and keep them because then it can work on autopilot and can focus on other things. So a lot of thought patterns or things we say and things we do quickly become habits and patterns, and they are carved in our brain because our brain is so good that.
So self talk, or the way we think about things, is one of those areas.
It quickly becomes a pattern, and we repeat it. So I may just read what Shad has to say about positive self talk and how it can help you.
This is one step that can help all of us become the best version of ourselves.
Shad says, “When you begin to actively change your self talk in one area of your life, don’t be surprised if your self talk in other areas also begins to improve. This is because when you change your self talk and create new programs in one area your brain will automatically begin to form new neural networks in other similar or complementary areas. For instance, you may choose to listen to self talk to lose weight and suddenly find yourself getting more organized. Or you may listen to self talk sessions to improve your relationships and discover that you’re also improving your self-esteem. When you begin working on the areas of your self talk that are most important to you, other areas of your brain will begin to get into and duplicate the same kind of positive activity.”
So I had this experience when I was back trying to lose weight, when I wasn’t super successful at it, but I remember this experience and it came back later and served me quite well.
I was in a Weight Watcher’s meeting here in Boise Idaho, and it was probably the year 2011 or 2012. I had just moved here, and I really wanted to get things going, so I went to Weight Watchers often even though I wasn’t living it super well. And in this meeting, one of the Weight Watchers women that was teaching the lesson said that if you will write down everything you are eating all the time and do a really good job of food journaling, you will find that you’ll become better at budgeting your money too.
Now, I thought that’s disconnected and weird, but let’s see if that’s true, right?
But it’s exactly what Shad Helmsdetter is saying. If you’re talking to yourself about something like if I’m writing down all the food I’m eating and I’m thinking this is gonna help me get this together, I’m going to be better at keeping track of my food. Then, I get that better managing my weight and I’m going to lose weight, and I’m thinking those things.
Pretty soon, another area, like my finances where I also need to keep track, will be more organized and problem-solved. It’s going to look better too.
That actually makes perfect sense.
And, it did work.
And I’ve heard people say that, outside of that Weight Watchers meeting too. The people that are really good at managing the food they eat and recording it in any detail are also able to do the same thing with their budgeting and their money.
So, very interesting.
So we talked about two different ways to become the best version of you, and one was about choosing traits and purposely growing and developing them; the other one was about operating from primarily the higher brain.
The area I just want to sum up here is that creating a new neural pathway of habit and especially self talk and thinking about things happens when you are intentionally choosing to operate from the higher brain. So it won’t happen on its own.
And, chances are, you have to practice it a lot. For a long time.
And then, pretty soon, your brain will start to prefer that new neural pathway.
It doesn’t mean your old habits are going to totally disappear. You might have to be a little bit intentional about it a lot of the time. But that can help us on our journey to becoming the best version of ourselves, and that’s a wonderful way to go, especially when there are so many challenges around us. A lot of pressure a lot of chaos and craziness in the world.
The more we’re working on being a better version of ourselves, the more we can work on what really is within our control, and show up and share our true gifts and talents with the world, and help others too.
Well, thanks for joining me. That’s all I have for you today. I’m going to wrap it up and end just by saying: here’s to being the best version of you!