008 | The BS of Be Your Best Self
I saw a colleague yesterday, and he made a good comment that the bear doesn't try and be its best self.
This follows from a conversation I had on social media, where I asked the community whether the tree, the pond, or the heron continuously improves itself.
The majority of people responded in the affirmative.
The comments I received said that continuously improving yourself is part of evolution.
That if a living organism is not continuously growing, it will die.
But I wasn't asking whether the tree, pond or heron continuously grows.
I asked, do they continuously improve?
Growing is an evolutionary survival mechanism. It is done unconsciously. It's an automatic process that happens.
Your inner anarchic dynamic keeps you alive for as long as possible.
To me, a river is living, and a rock is living because I come from an animist worldview that believes every single thing on this earth, has this inner, anarchic dynamic.
Anarchic in the sense that the world is highly complex, and can't be neatly boxed, bagged and tagged. It is chaotic in a good way.
My reason for asking the question to the community about this constant improving that gets sold to us by the culture goes back to the observation that when I look at the biosphere, other species don't appear to have this driver.
As my colleague said: 'Does the bear try and be its best self?'
This drive, to me, seems to stem from a very Abrahamic belief that you are not good enough.
Western civilization is founded on Abrahamic beliefs and the dominant Western belief system (at the moment) is Christianity whose foundation is one that deeply believes in original sin.
Psalm 51:5 it states: 'I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.'
This is a belief that you are born into this world corrupted.
Islam and Judaism do not have the concept of original sin in their teachings.
So when I hear people saying they want to be their best self
I want to call out what I see as pure bullshit.
And rather than try and be your best self, come to a place of acceptance of yourself. Come to a place of loving yourself.
That being said, there is nothing wrong with mastering an art, a craft, or a skill.
For example, I want to produce videos, and I want my skill set at a level where I feel the videos I produce are of high enough quality to put into the world.
That doesn't come from a lack of belief in self or self-esteem.
That comes from a personal standard of aesthetics and quality that I live by.
Being your best self, whenever I hear people say it, it almost sounds like they're a naughty child.
The command to 'Be your best self' is like some parental authority telling you, you're not good enough at this moment.
You've got to be different. Because what you are right now is not acceptable.
I think the whole 'be your best self' movement is very toxic.
This construct is epidemic in the productivity communities, the self-development and wellness communities, to name a few.
I challenge this construct. It feels poisonous.
So I would ask you to look at yourself today in the mirror and say, ' I am good enough'.
Then sense what comes up for you when you say those words.
Because if you're good enough, you do not need to be your best self.