Within each of us lies two ego’s – the Actual Self and The Ideal Self. If you imagine these two egos as lenses, when they converge, everything becomes clearer. In a sense, you will be at your very best. Conversely, when the lenses are far apart, you will find that everything is out of focus, and this is where people suffer a great many problems with their mental heath and wellbeing!
So let’s explore what this means.
Every experience, every conversation, every encounter, every moment in our lives, add up to inform who we are in a greater sense. Slowly but surely, we change over time, informed by everything we are seeing, hearing, feeling, touching, smelling, tasting. It only takes one single sensation to cause change in our brains.
Rewind the clock by 10 years. Where were you personally? What were your values? What mattered to you most? What informed your values and ideas of right and wrong? I’d imagine it was the preceding 10 years, 20 years, 30 years or more.
Fast forward back to today. Where are you now? Have your values changed? Are your beliefs of what’s right and wrong different? I imagine that fundamentally, they are the same. But in detail, they are quite different.
Throughout this time, you’ve always had an idea of “who” you are. Whether that idea was informed largely by your own impression of who you are, or whether it was informed largely by who other people think you are… the results are largely the same. Due to the vastly complicated systems inherent in our thought processes, rarely do we experience ourselves as others do. Have you ever found yourself being more valuable to someone else than you thought you were capable of being? Has anyone ever complimented you for something you didn’t realise you had in you? These are all examples of how our own internal perception of self is way off how other people experience us.
In short, we often get it wrong and the definition of who we are is determined by context and circumstance.
So it’s truly a difficult task to fully experience ourselves. Thus we have two alternatives to work with.
They are the Actual Self and the Ideal Self.
Pretty self explanatory really, but let’s go deeper.
The Ideal Self is the version of us that we aspire to be. Whether that’s thinner, bigger, more confident, better looking, more friendly, less aggressive, more passive, more passionate, more attentive, less judgmental, less fearful, more spontaneous… less spontaneous.
Exactly what “less” or “more” means to you, will be wholly different to what it means to the next person. This is your experience and your definition. No judgement here. What’s more, these are not the things that people tend to want you to be. These are internal values or matters of self worth defined by years of lived experience. For the most part, we accept others for who they are in the present – perceptions of good or bad. We cannot see or experience another person’s “ideal” self, unless they manifest the change in themselves.
Then of course, there’s the Actual Self, which is the reality of our being in the here and now. This is the ego that defines exactly where we are and unfortunately, how far we are from being or becoming our Ideal Self.
Problems with mental health can stem from the distance between these two egos. A mismatch of information in the brain. An agony derived from wanting to be something, or a version of yourself, which you don’t feel you are. The further out of reach this Ideal Self becomes, the larger the agony and stresses on our mental health and wellbeing.
Adding in another layer of complexity – you could have wildly unreasonable expectations of your Ideal Self. Can your Ideal Self be attained? Is it even possible? So often we set expectations for ourselves which are completely untenable or rely on external factors beyond our control.
There’s a certain peace to be found with acceptance and understanding of our Actual Selves. Saying to yourself “I’m OK with me”. “I’m happy enough where I am”. In some cases this might be wildly untrue and completely unfair to adopt as a stance, but it’s a starting block for any change. You might adapt this into “I’m OK to move forward positively.”, for example.
A real world example of this could be looking at another Wedding Supplier and comparing the number of their commissions, to yours. It makes you feel bad that you don’t have the same number, and your Actual Self – where you are today, starts to drift apart from your Ideal Self – the one who has all those commissions!
That’s too simple an assessment I’m afraid.
Are you considering the years it took to build that Business? Or the work done securing contacts, negotiating deals, volunteering, making personal sacrifices? All aspects of experience that are hidden from view. We can’t make such simple comparisons, because we don’t have all the facts. And yet we do!
The important part will always be the bit in the middle. The stuff that needs to be done to move from the Actual Self to the Ideal Self. Checking in with the Actual Self and ensuring that we’re happy with our values, self worth and lived experience, before checking in with our Ideal Self – making sure we’re being realistic and our Ideal Self exists within a possible reality.
Finally, just enjoying the ride! Life is not a sequence of interconnected events. It’s messy, it’s unpredictable and it has it’s ups and downs. If we can learn to live with our Actual Selves in the moment, and be happy with the pursuit of our Ideal Selves, then we have a recipe for success!
And besides, the Ideal Self, if ever attained, will simply become the Actual Self, and the process could begin again! So it’s vital to find value in our lives today!
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and let’s build a stronger Wedding Industry together!