Reality Check: Our Best Selves

What comes to your mind when I refer to our best selves?
Is our best self when we “put our best foot forward?” Perhaps so. However, if putting our best foot forward is only to make a good impression—essentially, to put on a show for someone—then that doesn’t necessarily correspond to our genuine best self.
From my perspective, our best self emerges when we are the best person we can be. Because we all have different gifts and characteristics, my best self could be quite different from your best self.
Perhaps your best self is your kindest, most helpful self. Or maybe it’s your smartest self. It could even be that your best self is when you are the most good-humoured person that you can be.
No matter what, specifically, you perceive your best self to be, I expect that each of us could pretty easily answer the question, “Am I being my best self right now?” Sometimes the answer is, “Yes.” And there are certainly times when the answer is, “No.”
Can we choose whether we bring forth our best self? If it is under our control, then why would we ever bring our less-than-best selves? Why not always bring our best?
It seems to take more effort to be our best selves rather than our mediocre selves. Our best demands more attention. It requires that we think a little bit harder about how we are acting. It’s possible that our best only emerges when we don’t respond automatically, but when we act with conscious thought and consideration.
Why might it now matter more than ever to be our best selves?
The response to the pandemic has brought previously-unimaginable changes to many of our day-to-day activities: work, shopping, travelling, recreational activities have all changed.
Many people are stressed. There’s fear of illness, worry about finances, uncertainty about the future, anger about perceived mistakes, resentment about lost opportunities, and more. Pandemic-related consequences are wide-ranging. And those consequences tend to be largely stress-inducing.
Among those consequences are changes to relationships. We all know about the changes that have been demanded of us. We’ve had limited face-to-face interactions, restrictions on visits, no hugs; not even handshakes.
Even our most personal, private interactions—gatherings at the homes of people we are close to, or visits with relatives and friends in care facilities or medical facilities—all those personal contacts that we take for granted during normal times have been subject to regulations and external demands. It’s been a different world, indeed.
As we begin to creep toward slightly freer interactions, toward tiny glimmers of normalcy, we’ll once again have the opportunity to see folks we haven’t seen for months.
If the relationship was good before, then that long stretch of limited interaction may have made the heart grow fonder, indeed. We can pick up where we left off. We can see each other once again, reconnect, talk. Perhaps we’ll become even more appreciative of each other and fully embrace the joy that comes with the freedom to meet.
On the other hand, what if there have been disagreements in a relationship? Or tensions that have developed over the months of limited interactions? With time to simmer and stew over problems, a tiny issue can blow up into something much larger if we allow it.
We’ve all seen the signs imploring us to “Be kind.” Most everything works better if we choose to display our patience and good humour.
As changes continue, we can take the opportunity to look anew at our relationships. We can think about what we really want, and we can recognize that we do have some control over how they go. We can make the choice to be our best selves.
What is your best self?

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