Shakespeare and Aristotle had it right all along: Self-awareness is where it’s at (“To thine own self be true” and “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom,” respectively, were the OG #inspo). What exactly is being the most authentic, best version of you anyway? “Your best self is where you experience the highest level of growth in your character, you operate in your unique gifts and skills, and you use those things to impact the world around you in a positive way,” explained Dr. Josh Axe, doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist and best-selling author. As if we needed more incentive to find our true north, studies have found that identifying with the concept of true self leads to a stronger sense of well-being and purpose.
It sounds easy enough to achieve in theory, but we all have mental hang-ups that get in the way of realizing our fullest potential and becoming our best selves. The good news is you can overcome these obstacles with tools—what Dr. Axe calls “mindshifts”—which will help elevate your thinking so you can live authentically. Whether you want to gain physical, mental, or financial health, improve the quality of your relationships, or level up your career, shifting your mindset will give you the boost you need to transform your life by reshaping your beliefs. Ahead, four common mental blocks that may be stopping you from tapping into best-self energy and the mindshift Dr. Axe recommends for each one.
You have limiting beliefs, rather than “unlimiting” beliefs.
No matter where your preconceived notions were formed—your upbringing, education, past experiences, relationships, society, media—they make a difference in whether you run the marathon or quit before you even begin, are part of a loving relationship or find dating hopeless, or discover your passion or remain stuck at a dead-end job. As Dr. Axe explains, your beliefs may be the single greatest determining factor of what your future will look like. “Beliefs are so strong that false beliefs (I am not smart) can overpower what is actually true (I can learn),” Dr. Axe explained. “When left unchallenged, limiting beliefs will keep you from becoming the person you were born to be.”
That’s where flipping the script, or in his words, “unlimiting your beliefs,” comes in. A limiting belief about the self (such as “I can’t”) literally limits us, telling us what’s not possible. So, an unlimiting belief (“I can”) tells us what is possible. To identify beliefs, you need to switch from limited to unlimited and ask what false narratives have kept you from chasing your dreams or being the best version of yourself. Try unlimiting any negative beliefs that have become the soundtrack of your life with affirmations, journaling, or visualization. The more you practice turning those I can’ts into I cans, the more it’ll become second nature.
You define success as accomplishing instead of becoming.
We all strive to be “successful,” but we’re so focused on the end goal that we don’t acknowledge or enjoy the journey and what we pick up along the way. “An accomplishing mindset associates success with the accumulation of achievements or possessions,” Dr. Axe conveyed. “Our success isn’t about what we accomplish, it’s about who we become.” Instead of fixating on our to-do lists, we should be creating “to-be” lists instead. “Our goal should be becoming the greatest versions of ourselves in character and skill and using those to bless others. True success is about maximizing your unique skills for the greater good.”
So, how do we adopt a becoming mindset? According to Dr. Axe, it takes developing good character and healthy relationships. Here’s a foolproof formula: Follow through on your promises, treat everyone kindly, reflect on whether your actions align with your future best self, nurture meaningful connections by spending quality time and practicing open communication, and set and respect boundaries. In other words, focus less on what you want to accomplish and more on who you want to be.
You don’t practice enough mindfulness.
Between limiting beliefs, endless mind chatter, comparisons on social media, and the everyday pressures of work and relationships, it’s no wonder we get stuck in ruts. But when we are mindful of our actions—from how we spend our time to who we spend our time with—we can realize our purpose and potential. “When you are self-aware, you are mindful of what is happening to you and in you, rather than letting it consume and overwhelm you,” Dr. Axe expressed. “You can recognize your blind spots, your weaknesses, and areas needing improvement. Self-awareness allows you to discover where you are now so you can get to where you truly want to be.” Start practicing this mindfulness by learning how to pause (think: taking a walk, doing breathing exercises, saying affirmations), reflecting on who you are today and who you want to be, incorporating regular and consistent movement, and expressing gratitude.
You’re not connected to a “why.”
Your “why,” or your purpose in life, is going to look different than your BFF’s or your S.O.’s, but it will be the missions, passions, or dreams that make you excited to wake up every day. Dr. Axe believes that each of us has multiple purposes. The point is that finding a passion or mission that you connect deeply to allows you to feel like your life has value, meaning, and a specific purpose. When you live life with purpose, you adjust your lifestyle choices and behaviors to align with it (AKA best-self energy).
Unsure what your purpose is? Think about what lights a fire under you, what leaves you wanting more, and what are your greatest strengths. Put pen to paper to self-reflect, work through your thoughts, and explore your feelings, or visualize your future self and what you’d be doing by creating a vision board. At the end of the day, the purpose of being your best self is to live your purpose, so start with your “why” and your best self will follow.