“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” — Henry David Thoreau

Eventually, most of us arrive at a time in our lives when we say to ourselves, “something is wrong!” What we are often saying is, “this is not who I am” or “this is not who I want to be.” Continuing to do nothing becomes more and more uncomfortable, like treading water rather than swimming to shore. Join me on a journey of discovery in becoming the-best-version-of-ourselves.

Our essential purpose is to become fully the person God created us to be — the very-best-version-of-ourselves. If we can reach this state, then this one principle will bring clarity to everything in our lives. Life is not doing and having; it is about becoming! In the process of becoming all that God intends for us, we will be able to leave behind feelings of defeat and discard the fear that keeps us from living our lives with meaning and purpose.

When we fail to make the necessary changes that we need to exist joyfully, and with purpose, it damages our self-esteem and places us upon the path of self-loathing. Then we begin to drown our sadness in addictions, activity overload, and apathy. How do we transform the destructive patterns that block us from healthy relationships, hope and love? The answer is a slow process of change that involves a series of steps that will bring about the needed transformation, clarity and joy (see below). The discovery of our true self leads us to the realization that our imperfections are part of our perfection. We are perfectly imperfect. That’s great news!

Matthew Kelly states in his book, “Perfectly Yourself,” that, “most people change only when the pain of NOT changing becomes greater than the pain required to change.” These changes or new state of mind comes from within us; we have only to access what is already there!

The pain of not changing became more than I could bear as I buried my dreams, realities and hopes for over 20 years. This discomfort and playing hide and seek with the truth cost me dearly in my relationships. My purpose and identity were lost as I allowed them to be stripped away as if a coat of paint, assuming fresh paint would fix it. I became the-worst-version-of-myself then. This is how I came to embark upon the quest to find the-best-version-of-myself and to embrace the perfection behind my imperfection. It was if I had forgotten how to swim to shore and instead was treading water in place for over 20 tiring years.

Here are some tips to help celebrate the beautiful you, your imperfections and discard defeat: (It is helpful to record your answers to these questions in a journal — it might bring a chuckle or two later on.)

1. Celebrate your steps of progress. If you have lost five pounds but gained back three — focus on the two pounds you lost.

2. Allow yourself to create only one resolution/decision at a time.

3. Use your inner dialogue throughout the day to encourage and remind yourself that you are an infinitely valuable child of God.

4. Begin to view failure as part of success. Take time to learn from each attempt. In revealing this new information, you will also learn how to see your defeats as part of your progress.

5. Consciously set out to try something for the first time, thus celebrating your infinite capacity to explore new horizons.

6. Remain mindful of the fact that being perfectly yourself always leads you along the path toward the-best-version-of-yourself.

7. Ask yourselves these questions: Morning — What area do I need to focus on today? What can I do to make a difference in the lives of others today? In the evening — Ask yourself if you were better today than yesterday. What did you do to bring happiness to yourself and others? What did you do today to make yourself unhappy and restless? Why did you choose these things? What do you feel inspired to do better tomorrow?

“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless but disastrous.” — Thomas Merton

As E.E. Cummings said of the real us, “the moment you are, you’re nobody but yourself. To be nobody but yourself — in a world which is doing its best to make you everyone else ... (is) the most wonderful life on earth.”

Join me next time as we discover clarity in doing the next best thing, move from misunderstanding to insight, from despair to hope, and from darkness to light, in finding your most authentic self, the unique lovable person God designed you to be.

Roman Betty Schaaf is a volunteer, a writer, a sojourner and a self-described wellness addict. Betty Schaaf’s email is bettyannschaaf@gmail.com.