The Feel-Good Journey Towards Your Best Self
I’ve seen it argued that the authentic self is actually… well… a bit rubbish, that it’s naturally a bit of a slob, a weak, self-indulgent, bingeing, path-of-least-resistance, bozo do-nothing.
After all, the argument goes, this is who we are if we don’t make the effort, right? And if it takes no effort to be this person, it must be the authentic me, right?
Here’s why: it feels crap being that person.
Authenticity does not feel crap. Authenticity feels good. Fulfilling. Meaningful. Satisfying.
It takes effort – but that effort is rewarded, big time.
That’s because striving to be your best self is about much more than just doing ‘worthy’ things. It’s also (and always) about doing the things that feed your soul.
But Can I Actually Achieve My Authentic Best Self?
Okay, so if you’re talking about being your best self totally, and all the time – then my belief is probably not. Please don’t be put off by that. It’s perfectly fine. That’s because it’s as much about the journey as it is about the destination.
The Feel-Good Journey Towards Your Best Self
Imagine a journey where each step you take feels satisfying. Each positive step allows you to feel a little bit better about yourself. Each positive step contributes to quietening your Horrible Inner Critic’s negativity.
And there’s even more. Because taking these steps inevitably contributes to changing things for the better. Building confidence. Achieving things in your life. Valuing yourself and believing in yourself.
Although beginning this journey may feel daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Just remember that all you have to do is take one small step at a time.
Just one small, satisfying step – and then another.
How Do I Know What Steps to Take?
One simple answer is to check in on your feelings about any actions you are thinking about, or any actions you have taken. This may take a little trial and error. It will certainly lead to mistakes from time to time. So, an important part of the journey is constantly, constructively, reviewing and evaluating how you are doing.
You can also ask yourself this powerful question:
What would the best version of me do?
How to Use Your Authentic Best Self as a Beacon
As we’ve seen in other posts, visualising and personifying our negative thoughts (as a Horrible Inner Critic) is a powerful tool against unhelpful thinking. We can use this visualisation tool again with an inspiring version of your authentic best self.
There are several ways of achieving this:
1 – Best Self Nickname
Give your best self an uplifting nickname. This can be anything you like, or you could use your own name with a positive descriptor. You can probably come up with much better names than my examples below:
- Able (Abdul, Abby, Andy, etc)
Of course, they don’t have to alliterate.
- Super (Beth, Cam, etc)
- Brave (Conor, Jules, etc)
If you can visualize an empowering image of your best self, do that too.
2 – The Inspiring, Emblematic Animal
This tool is similar to the first but often easier and more powerful to use. It helps to approach this with a sense of play and fun. Don’t underestimate the power of this tool because of the playful element. I’ve used this for years with my coaching clients and it can have astonishing results.
We’re aiming for an animal image that can symbolise the positive qualities of your authentic best self. You can then use this as a motivating picture of who you are striving to become. When you get this right it can positively shape your whole life and revolutionise the way you think. I’ve even had clients name their business after their inspiring animal.
- Start by making a list of animals that you feel drawn to, and that may represent the positive qualities of your best self. Lions, dolphins and eagles are always popular – but often the less obvious creatures can be more powerful. So, horses, polar bears, giraffes, wolves, orcas, elephants, and many more have been used by my coaching clients.
- You can go for any animal that works for you. Real animals are fine but don’t limit yourself. Mythical creatures and animals from books, films, comics and even computer games are fine. NOTE: If you aren’t finding an animal that resonates, maybe think about more abstract symbols: a star, the sun, a particular mountain or place, the sea.
- When you’ve chosen an animal from your list, get specific about what it looks like. Think about its colour, posture, size and gender. Getting the details right will help you fully connect with your inspirational animal.
- If it helps give it a name.
- Next think of all the inspirational qualities that feel a good fit for who you are at your best, that this animal represents (check out the list below if you find this part difficult). Write down your choices.
If this animal has qualities in real life that you don’t want to identify with you can ignore them. This is your creation, your symbolic version of your best you. So, if you chose a bear, for example, it can have excellent toilet habits. 😊
- Finally (and this is an important step) – search out images and other examples of your inspiring animal that fit with your imagined version. Find an animal keyring; animal wallpaper/background for your phone, tablet or computer. Find a poster or painting. If you are able to – make your own.
When you’ve done this, your inspiring best-you-animal can act as a beacon of who you are journeying towards, a guide to decision making and a welcome alternate thinking path to your Horrible Inner Critics unhelpful thoughts. Use it to help answer the question already mentioned above – what would the best version of me do?
3- Aspirational Qualities Checklist
Here’s a list of positive quality words to help you find the ones that feel right for your own personal best self. Please do add your own if you need to. Don’t choose too many – just key qualities and values.
|Loving||Generous of spirit|
That’s it for now. But please don’t just read this post and forget it. Make some time – half an hour or so – and do some proper work on visualizing your authentic best self. Have fun with it, and when you’ve got a handle on it, keep the visual images and the positive qualities with you. Remind yourself regularly of who you are working to become – your best version of you.
In the next post we’ll look at how each small step helps you shine brighter.