The Case For NOT Trying To Be The ‘Best Version of You’
“Become The Best Version of You!” – The war cry of many a personal development program, self-help book and wannabe guru. Like the majority of messages emanating from this space, on the face of it, this call to arms would APPEAR to be a positive and uplifting statement. I’d like you to consider that perhaps it’s not.
The subtext of ‘become the best version of you’ is that currently, you are a lesser version of you; failure and poor results are your middle name. Frankly, as you are right now, well, you suck.
It’s widely acknowledged that at the root of the majority of advertising that we are bombarded with, the general message we are receiving is one of LACK. There is something we are missing and without it, well, our lives just won’t and can’t be complete. We know that is what is being said, we get it and yet most of the time we fall for it, because who doesn’t want a life that is complete?
When THESE TACTICS are used in the health/body image industry, they are often vilified (and rightly so) for making people feel that their bodies are lacking the perfection they should.
However, in the personal development world, the very industry that purports to be offering a path to happiness and contentment, the same tactics are used, and no one bats an eyelid. Once again, we fall for the trick.
The CONSTANT messages about finding our power, breaking through to success, be all you can be, find your purpose, living with passion, all imply that currently, you are the opposite of all those things.
The real message being conveyed is that you have no power, you can’t get to success, you’re not all you can be, you currently have no purpose and your life has no passion.
In a word, you are ‘BROKEN’.
Is that true, though? Maybe you feel broken, let’s face it. Who wouldn’t with messages coming at you like that..but, IS IT TRUE?
I’d like you to consider that no, it is not and who you are right now is all you need to be.
Let me take you back to Thailand, 300 years ago which at that time was known as Siam.
The Burmese army were planning to invade the country. The Siamese monks had in their possession a precious, solid gold Buddha. It was 10 and a half feet tall, weighed over 2 tonnes and worth a fortune. Not wanting this treasure to fall into the hands of the advancing army, the monks covered the Buddha with an outer covering of thick clay so it wouldn’t be discovered and stolen.
The Burmese army arrived and unfortunately, it would appear that all the monks were slaughtered. The Golden Buddha, however, remained undetected and safe.
It remained hidden until the 1950’s when a group of monks decided to relocate the clay Buddha from it’s current location to their new temple. The Buddha was lifted off the ground by a crane but was much heavier than they expected, and it fell to the ground, cracking the outer clay.
Later that evening the head monk went out to check on it, and as he shined a light on the Buddha, he noticed a gleam shining back. Realising that there maybe something underneath the clay he fetched a chisel and hammer and began to chip away at the clay. Little by little the gleam grew bigger, and after many hours, the monk was faced with the full majesty of the Golden Buddha.
This is a great story and a wonderful metaphor for who we are.
When we are born, we are very much the Golden Buddha, but it doesn’t take long for life to start covering us with clay, hiding our TRUE NATURE.
This clay of feelings, fear, anxiety, doubt, unworthiness and worry, builds up over the years.
You DIDN’T come into the world with those feelings.
There’s not a baby born who is self-conscious and worried about being judged. A baby doesn’t sit in its pram thinking, “please, don’t look at me right now, my hair is a mess, I’ve got podgy legs and to top it all, I just did a poo!”. They don’t care.
They are HAPPY with who they are and they get a lot of feedback from the world to support that view.
Everybody loves them, and they are the centre of attention. People smile at them, laugh and they bring joy to everyone they encounter. They feel secure and confident that they must be the most precious thing on the planet.
Then things start to CHANGE.
One minute we are a bundle of joy that no one can get enough of. The next, our actions seem to provoke an entirely different response. We soon find out that covering our parent’s brand new carpet with our latest finger painting attempt isn’t considered creative, self-expressive or cute. It’s considered destructive and unwelcome.
We constantly seem to be doing things ‘wrong’, and we are not sure WHY? By the time we’ve grown up, been through the education system, the trauma of adolescence and we enter the world of consumerism, we’re a neurotic mess. If not on the surface, then underneath, buried away in the dark.
At some point, this becomes unbearable to us, we search for the answer and find the self-help/personal development world which tells us we can improve, YES! We can be more than we currently are, we can finally BECOME SOMEONE and find success!
The fact is, you ALREADY ARE someone. Underneath all that emotional and mental clay you are just like the Golden Buddha. Perfect, precious, incredibly valuable and gleaming.
The task at hand, therefore, is not to be striving to become a better version of you but to chip away at the clay so you can get back to who you REALLY are.
In my experience, much of the personal development/self-help space is all about trying to add layers of gold to cover the clay. All that serves to do, however, is make it even harder to get to the treasure you ALREADY POSSESS.
Do I believe we need to work on ourselves? Absolutely, yes.
Do I believe that we need help to do this? Again, without a doubt, yes. Someone else will always see the gold beneath your clay more easily than you and can hand you the correct hammer and chisel for the job at hand.
What we need LESS of, however, is being told that we are not good enough as we are, that we are broken and require fixing.
We don’t. We need RESETTING (the most important part of my 4 step Reality Engineering™ process), and that is an entirely different proposition and approach from what the personal development marketplace is offering as a whole.
There is way too much focus on what you can be and not enough on who you already are.
Who you are already, IS enough.
Make it your goal to chip away at the clay, not cover it with another layer.
True happiness doesn’t lie with ‘becoming someone’, true happiness lies with remembering who you already are, allowing your gold to gleam and your light to shine.
Live Fearlessly, Mark
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