‘Become the best version of yourself’ is another one of those hollow, mottoes of modernity. It seems like an attractive slogan because it calls you to better yourself and to improve. However, its attractiveness soon loses its glitter when you dig a little deeper into what it’s really saying.
What does it even mean?
‘Become the best version of yourself, become your best self, live your best life’, what do these even mean?! It sounds like some kind of software upgrade where you go from version 2.4 to version 6.0 in one go. But, how do you know what the ‘best’ version is? On what basis have you decided what you are aiming towards?
Furthermore, before you decide on upgrading the current version of yourself, don’t you need to know what that is? Never mind wanting to become the best version of yourself, how clearly do you know yourself, as you are, today?
All these mottoes of modernity are little more than platitudes that peddle a Hollywood idea of self-improvement. One that has the hidden belief of “more is better” baked in. Whatever you have and whoever you are, it is somehow believed to be inadequate. So, you must strive for more, in order to improve. And, we could perhaps play this game if the best version of yourself was somehow definable. Let’s try.
Perhaps, one could set some parameters — to acquire the classical virtues prized by the Stoics for example? But, how do you know when you’ve arrived? How will you measure that you have enough virtue? Must you rely on someone who has already become the best version of themselves to tell you? But, how will they know that they have arrived, and how will you verify that they indeed have?
So, you see, the very desire to become the best version of yourself is the recipe for endless running between blind alleys. Because it is a motto that has no real meaning. It sounds nice and encouraging, but offers no real guidance. It is the self-help version of ‘get rich by investing in the stock market or bitcoin or whatever’.
Remove blockages to become the best version of yourself
Does this mean that we must then do nothing? That we must abandon all efforts. Not at all. The key here lies in where the effort is focused. Rather than waste all that energy on elusive and undefinable ideas of future happiness, why not find it now? And, that starts with uncovering what stops you from being the unique version of yourself that you already are.
This may sound like a play on words, but it is not. For, the starting premise is fundamentally different. Hollywood self-help believes that you need to strive to be a better self in the future. What I am saying here is that you are already there, if only you allow yourself to see it. We may sometimes have to clean the glass a little to let our inner light shine more. But, it was always there to begin with! Your self does not need improving. And, in case you are wondering, self-improvement is NOT the same as self-actualisation (you can read more about that here).
Focus on what stops you
So, I far prefer the approach of developing a deeper understanding of what stops you from living freely with inner freedom. This is very different from fixing your eyes on a distant, ‘better version’ of yourself, like a gambler clinging to a lottery ticket. The invitation here is to look into yourself and understand yourself — today — without judgement. To really know yourself and your inner experience.
This is the path of getting to the ‘truth’ by removing all that is not the truth. The path of embracing who you are, by becoming awake to how you twist yourself out of shape, to be who you are not. To be who you think you SHOULD be. For, the very desire to improve yourself is itself the very source of your discontentment. Because it distracts you from recognising that there is nothing more to be bettered, beyond the wonder of your everyday experience as yourself.
Become the best version of yourself is empty advice
Become the best version of yourself is just another one of modernity’s hollow self-help mottoes. Don’t fall for it. Rather, really get to know yourself, and you will uncover the perfect version that you already are.
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.