Self Knowledge – Ideal Self And Real Self

April 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Posted in self development/motivation | Leave a comment
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Are you often disappointed with yourself? Are you noticing thoughts like ‘I shouldn’t be doing or thinking this’? Are you being hard on yourself for not reaching your goals? The reason might be that there are big gaps between your ideal self-image and your real self.

Ideal Self versus Real Self

Getting to know your Ideal Self

Consciously or unconsciously we all walk around with an idealized image of ourselves. Setting goals might be the more obvious and conscious ones. Being unhappy about our body shape, size or weight might go more unconsciously.

To get familiarized with the Ideal Self that you have created, start by listening and paying attention to your thoughts and words. It might come concealed in statements like ‘I’m not as quick writing this report as I should be’ or ‘Wow, this guy is really self-assured’. Often expectations we set ourselves might be tied up with things we aspire to or admire in others, or, on the contrary, things we envy or ‘apparently’ disregard in others.

Hidden part of the Ideal Self

Thoughts or words like ‘Oh look at her, she’s such a slut’ might hide parts of you that would wish to be seen as more sexy or attractive. If you’re a guy you might think ‘All he cares for is his money, car and boat’ which might allude to the fact that you secretly wish to be more successful but haven’t yet allowed yourself to have that desire.

What’s my Ideal Self?

To find out what you measure yourself against it is useful to inquire in your image of Ideal Self.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I openly or secretly wish for?
  • What do I want myself to be, to have, to look like?
  • What do I secretly want that I wouldn’t want anyone else to know?
  • Where am I upset with myself for not being as good as, as… as someone else?
  • The more honest and un-censoring you can be, the more clarity you will gain from these questions.

Measuring up

Your Ideal Self is what you measure yourself up against. Depending on the picture that you’ve drawn with the question the last section you might realize what you have set up for yourself. Imagine your boss would constantly ask the impossible from you – how would you feel? With certain people’s Ideal Self image it is just that: an unattainable high standard, which fuels self-loathing and frustration.


Compare your Real Self with your Ideal Self and ask: Is this healthy? Is this good for me? If not, what would I need to change? The answer to this question can be to adjust expectations and make them more realistic and/or to practice more self-acceptance of the Real Self and become ‘real’. What’s your answer?

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