It seems that we have two versions of ourselves. Our ideal self and our default or actual self. Job applications and dating sites are full of people’s ideal selves. This is the one we would like others to see. The default one is usually the one we are actually living. We can, by the way, be just as good at convincing ourselves as we are others that we are our own ideal. It is probably why we end up in careers and relationships that we thought we would love, but end up being totally wrong for us.
Perhaps the saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ a reflection of us wanting to be a certain way but not actually being able to follow it through. So many times we make promises that end up broken or ignored. I wonder if this is because it was a promise that, as much as a person might think they want to keep, is not something that comes naturally. So without a huge amount of effort, it doesn’t happen. Another example is people always saying what they would love to do if they had the time. Usually, I think, this is the ideal self talking because if you really really want to do something, you can generally find the time. When you say you would love to go to the gym but can’t find the time, this is more than likely the ideal self talking because the actual self is probably saying something like ‘I want to watch Offspring on TV’. And guess which one you end up doing!
Sometimes we are right to want to move our default self closer to our ideal. More than once I have found myself responding to something in a certain way, only to ask myself why did I react like that because it certainly was not the way I would have liked to react. I think our default is set to a certain degree by external factors such as the way we were raised and events that may have happened to us, combined with our core personality. We tend to react to things according to these factors but often it is not the way we want to be. I am definitely of the opinion that we need to grow and challenge ourselves and without our ideal selves this would not be possible. I just believe that we need to keep it in line with the core values of our actual self. Unless of course those core values resemble a psychopath or the like, then the default button needs to be deleted!
So what is the best way to integrate your ideal self into your actual self? Slowly I would think. How many times do you see someone go on an extreme health kick and lose a large amount of weight, only to put it all – and sometimes more – back on again? Those who make weight loss a long term project seem to have more luck keeping to the new lifestyle. Take note of how you are actually feeling when you do the things your ideal self wants you to do. Are you really enjoying it or do you like what it represents. My ideal self would like to run marathons and go to the gym regularly – and does so in my imagination often. This self is fit and toned, rather unlike the actual self. The thing is, when it comes to exercise, my real self would rather wander around looking at the scenery and will happily do it for hours. Definitely not ideal – but it will do for now. Until my real self catches up with the imagined version anyway.
Til next time…