Becoming the best version of yourself
Earnest Hemingway reminds us, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” You can have a realistic appraisal of where you are today in terms of your achievements and your growth in the six dimensions of wellness—endorsed by the positive psychologists: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, academic/occupational and spiritual, and choose to do things that help you become the best version of yourself in all these dimensions. To become that best version of yourself, perhaps you need to let go some of those dysfunctional or unhelpful habits, distractions and allurements.
John P. Weiss, an artist and a writer points out three negative qualities that prevent a person from becoming the best version of himself or herself. They are: greed, vanity and addiction. Avarice or the greed for more and more; Self-absorption or narcissism- preoccupation with your appearance, that craving to be on social media, posting photographs, taking selfies, wanting to be better or on par with them and a strong tendency to be part of such groups; Addictive tendencies among students, particularly getting addicted to contents on internet, some of which are psychologically harming.
What steps should students take?
- Ask yourself ‘what shall I do to become the best version of myself? What do I need to let go? Describe that best version of yourself that you would like to become in the six dimensions mentioned earlier, in detail.
- Believe that the best version that you want to become already exists in you. In his book ‘The wishes fulfilled’, Wayne Dyer says, “You already are what you are seeking to attain”. Perhaps you might want to reorganize your life, give up some of your distractions and habits. Use your time well and decide to be a lifelong learner.
- Work hard; push yourself to achieve your goal, particularly those times when you feel like it’s a wee bit boring or feel like giving it up. Allow your parents, friends and teachers to push you a bit when you are flagging in zeal.
- Be positive and interact with people who are positive. Read and watch material on print or electronic media that creates positive thoughts and feelings within you. Avoid watching anything that leaves you feel frightened or disturbed.
- Be present-centered. Unpleasant and scary memories from the past can disturb your present activities. Learn to relax and meditate. Give your body enough sleep. Reduce your screen time on your internet enabled devices.
What shall parents do?
Cell Biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton says that “Our programmed perceptions directly shape our biology, behaviour and character of our lives”. He further asserts that by the time a baby is born the emotional information that the infant downloaded from the mother’s experiences has already shaped half of that individual’s personality. The remaining half is formed before the child reaches the age of six. This period between 0 to 6 years is called programmable age of a child.
Here are a few suggestions for parents:
- Scientists are of the opinion that it’s important for parents to gaze into their children’s eyes, particularly of the infant, in a loving and compassionate way, as it helps the neural development of the brain. It also helps them increase their cognition, attention, memory and also in regulating their emotions. Eye contact between two people in a positive and pleasant interaction seems to increase the level of trust between them and encourages them for more such interactions. Therefore, parents, remember to spend some quality time with your children by listening to them about their activities and achievements in school, their friends and teachers and also sharing your ideas and insights on matters concerning physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual development of your child. Good relationships with parents form the basis for significant relationships with peers.
- According to Virginia Satir, a well-known American Family Therapist of 1960’s and 70’s, “Every word, facial expression, gesture, or action on the part of a parent gives the child some message about self-worth. It is sad that so many parents don’t realize what messages they are sending”. As you listen to your children, look for their assets and strengths —give them a compliment or a word of appreciation for their achievements.
- Parents also need help from family therapist or counselors on effective ways of parenting. Satir says, “What lingers from the parent’s individual past, unresolved or incomplete, often becomes part of his or her irrational parenting”.
- Parents need to remember that increased indulgence in online activities of your children can increase their craving for more and in some cases it can lead to addiction. In the long run, children can develop sense of narcissistic tendency and become more and more self-absorbed. If parents don’t handle it carefully and at the earliest, can lead to significant decline in social interaction. Hence it’s incumbent on parents to sit with your child and decide with him or her when to use the social media, what s/he might want to use it for and how long. Parents need to exercise “NO” when you think your child is overusing an internet enabled gadget for any activity.
- Parents also need to be an internet literate; so that you know why your child wants to use a gadget like smart phone and for what. Most parents of teenagers are perhaps ‘digital immigrants’ and your children are ‘digital natives’.
- Expose children to realities of world outside of our cities. Take them out to villages and let them know how poor people live and manage their lives with meagre resources and allow them to interact with their children. In this way they develop a sense of compassion and feel of connectedness to the less privileged and marginalised ones of our societies, which impels them in future to be more prosocial, altruistic and inclusive and broaden their understanding of an interconnected world.
- Visit places of worship along with your children: pray and connect with people, share ideas and create more positivity.
Let us heed the words of Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe; “If you treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming”. Becoming the best version of oneself begins with the realization of where one is and where one wants to be. It requires one to let go of all that limits one’s possibilities and opportunities to become that best version. Helping a child become its best version requires concerted efforts from all the stakeholders in the life of that child, particularly the efforts from parents are very crucial.