Best Self? What’s that then? by Dr Dee Gray

Dr Dee Gray

I have been using the term ‘best self’ for a number of years now, although I intrinsically had an understanding of what it meant, it was by exploring different aspects of wellbeing that I really got my head around it. In this latest blog I share a few thoughts about being your best self and warmly welcome your stories and experiences about this fascinating subject.

Not that long ago, it seemed common parlance to say things like ‘they’re not their best’ or such and such is ‘past their best’, and when I both said and heard others saying this I knew, we knew, what we meant. We knew that ‘someone’ was not well, or suffering, or struggling…..sometimes all three. We could tell when something was ‘past its best’ because it was ragged, or faded….was deteriorating in some way.  We would respond to this knowing in a range of ways, perhaps reaching out to someone we knew was ‘not their best’ and offering help, or renewing/replacing something that had served its purpose.

My interest in this has deepened over the last 8 -9 years mostly because I am curious about how we can develop our self awareness to the point where we truly invest in our own wellbeing. Most of us, and I am including me in this, know when we need to take a break, know when we need to step back, know when we need to change our ways…..yet often we ignore the signals we are sending ourselves. Granted often our responsibilities mean that we simply have to soldier on, but what we fail to do in our ‘soldiering’ is to make even small recovery spaces where we can nourish and replenish our energy.

Many people who have a caring nature will find that they often sacrifice their own wellbeing to help others, yet ultimately this is not helpful to either party as the person who supports others will become vulnerable to burnout, and the person being helped may suddenly find themselves alone.

Being your best self in the workplace is gaining ground with OD/OL professions, for some it is beginning to be seen as providing some sort of competitive advantage, and certainly when you are your best self you will feel not only that you are firing on all cylinders, but that you are living your purpose. My concern is that some ‘best self initiatives’ may become a temporary focus, and that without sufficient support and knowledge, it becomes an empty policy or gesture…

Understanding what it means to be your ‘best self’ quite naturally starts with your experiences of the world, and takes you to appreciating your worst self (something I call the periphery spaces of wellbeing).  From this understanding you can sense not just the changes in you, but the changes in others, (yes I know we are going back to ‘they’re not their best’ example), the difference could be though that upon sensing this you act in a way that nourishes you and them.

It would be great to hear some of your stories about being your best self so do get in touch and share!

For all of you out there who are truly passionate about wellbeing, check out our new on-line Wellbeing Practitioner programme, which provides in depth knowledge on how to be your best self and develops your practice so that you can design and deliver your own courses.