Best Self (n.) -- Your best self is the part of you that goes into difficult situations and acts with wisdom, clarity, and purpose. We use the term "best self" in the emotional intelligence world to represent the you that you are fully capable of being -- the very best version of who you are as a person.
Training Your Best Self
Your most difficult moments have the capacity to be some of your best teachers. When you need to respond in difficult situations or you face situations where you fight against the more selfish parts of your nature, you have the greatest capacity to grow.
As you work through these moments, you can use them to create the best version of yourself.
Looking at a real life example
Your sister calls at 11:00 at night. She is fighting with her husband and he wants a divorce. She wants you to pick her up so she can stay at your place for awhile. She is an hour away and you have to work tomorrow. You don't live in an area where a taxi is an option and you are really tired.
When you look at this one, you can see the internal conflict. Do you really want to drive two hours late at night when you have to work the next day? You may also find yourself reacting to the "staying with you" request or to the level of emotional processing that your sister will need. You do, though, know what loving and compassionate behavior looks like in this situation. And it's in this moment that you have the opportunity to create or grow your best self.
In difficult moments, creating your best self follows a three-step process:
1. Acknowledge Your Internal Conflict. Would you rather stay in bed, not get involved, or to have her stay with anyone else but you? Let yourself be human. Acknowledge the parts of you that just don't want to do what the best version of yourself knows it needs to do.
2. Remind Yourself of Your Best Self. Simply remind yourself of who you are or who you are aspiring to be. You do this through saying affirmative statements that reinforce this aspiration or reality. In this case, it's possible that you would choose one or several of the following statements to remind yourself who your best self is:
- I am a good brother
- I love my family and put them first
- When people ask me for help, I help them when I am capable
- I care for others even when it's inconvenient
Note that some of these statements may only be aspirational and not reflective of who you currently are. They are, however, all stated in the present tense. You speak as if they are currently true. If your choice in language puts the traits you want to create as things that will exist in the future or are things you are only willing to do, they can't be called upon as something currently inside you.
Some people call this "fake it until make it." I usually refer to this as planting the seeds of who you want to be. Each time you hit situations where you meet an internal fight and you state these things to sway yourself toward your best behavior, you are watering the seeds of their creation. Each time you choose to respond in a way that matches the statement, you are creating your best self and the statement becomes more and more true over time.
3. Act as Your Best Self. You've acknowledged the internal conflict and stated who you know you are. You then need to act as that best version of yourself. This is the hardest part. In the example, this is when you get in the car and drive to pick up your sister.
Your mind may fight you or be completely unhappy to go against your default less-than-desirable behavior. The more you do this, however, the easier it gets. There may be an internal struggle for awhile and that is perfectly okay. It's definitely part of the process.
Water the seeds of your best self. Remind yourself of who you are capable of being.
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