The Ideal Self

In psychological theory, there is something called the ‘ideal self.’ A person is thought to hold, consciously or subconsciously, a view of the person he’s supposed to be. If the ideal is rational, there’s no serious problem with this, but reality must always be considered. The ideal must always be connected with reality. If you don’t continuously do this, then your ideal will start to be at war with reality. When people become very anxious or unhappy for no known reason, a clash between the ideal self and the self as perceived ought to be examined. Keep in mind that an “ideal” need not be conscious. If someone thinks, “I don’t have an ideal. I don’t even know what one is,” this doesn’t mean that he has no aspirations or expectations that he subconsciously holds himself to. The challenge is to identify what those expectations are, to make them conscious, to assess their feasibility — and then, if they are feasible, to work at better living up to them.