Real Self vs Ideal Self

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2 years ago

Everyone of us have the desire of being like this and like that. That feeling wherein we are dreaming like those famous celebrities on TV and to be the person whose considered as the epitome of beauty, power, and intelligence. But, despite the idealistic person we want, there's our real self that no one could replace.

Upon reading this article, we will learn about what does it mean by real self and ideal self, and the possible problems that may arise if ever that there's a discrepancy between the two.

Real Self and Ideal self are the terms used to describe personality domains. These are very important to determine our personality based on who we really are and what we want to be.

According to Karen Horney (a German psychoanalist), in her Theory of Neurotic Needs, a person has an ideal self and real self. When an individual undergoes anxiety wherein there's an instances of experiencing extreme sadness and feeling of emptiness, it will lead to depression afterwards. In that case, when a person have anxiety, according to Horney, that person may develop that what we call ideal self in order to cope up with anxiety.

Ideal Self

Ideal self is who we want to be. It seems like an imaginary picture of ourselves who possessed power and all the beautiful aspects everyone's been dreaming of. When a person feels inferior, an idealized self-image is developed. It is one of the strategies used by us who feel inferiority within ourselves.

Maybe you've experienced imagining yourself being a successful and powerful one. Even me, I am fond of thinking about myself being beautiful and powerful among all humans on Earth (hahaha). Whenever I made mistakes in academics, I am thinking "what if I am an intelligent students who knows everything and is very smart to accomplish all of my learning tasks without any mistakes at all". Sorry for being like that, because as far as I want to be contented with who I am, I still have this mindset who wants to exceed my own standards and be better than who I am now. I think, it's just okay to dream of being the best version our self, as long as we have the courage and perseverance to pursue it and not just always dreaming of it. Nothing will happen if we are just wishing for something to happen we need to act and exert efforts in reaching it out.

Real Self

Ideal self is like an imaginary person of who we want to be, but when we say "Real Self" that's who we really are. It is how we think, look and act together with our idealized self-image. Not all of us knows what is our real self. Karen Horney futher discussed this concept wherein according to her, sometimes our real self revealed only as we begin to shed various techniques to cope up with basic anxiety or to resolve a particular conflict. This is very evident in some instances wherein we don't know if we are capable of leading a group and often doubt our leadership skills. But, if we have no choice but to lead that group that hidden skill of us which is actually part of our real self began to reveal. We will then realize that we are really an excellent leader and have the power to influence other with our leadership skill.

The real self is not an entity but a force that impels growth and self-realization.

A wide gap between the ideal self and real self may indicate incongruence and unhealthy personality that will cause a problem.

Based on Carl Roger's Person-Centered Theory, if who we really are (real self) is aligned with the way we want to be (ideal self) then we will have a peace of mind because there will no such conflict that may arise. But, when our real self is not aligned with how we want to be then it will lead to mental distress or anxiety. It is because, when our expectations/standards we set to ourselves was not met by our ideal self, there will be a sense of unsatisfied emotions that will lead to anxious feeling.

Let me discuss it further. If I want to be an honest person (real self) but when I was asked by my parents why I came late from school, I told them that I was stuck in the traffic jam while I'm on my way to our house when in fact I am with my friends at the mall earlier, eating in a fancy restaurant there.

In that case, my real self who is fond of white lies just to free myself from my parent's anger is not actually congruent with who I want to be (being honest). A guilt within me will start to develop and I will never feel satisfied with what I've acted upon a while back.

Aside from that, there are some instances that a person will act just like their ideal-self to impress someone but their real self which is actually opposite with their idealized-image is still there which can cause problems to the people around and even to themselves.

Let's say for instance, we can see a student who we think as a very honest, kind, and responsible one when she is in front of a teacher, but when left alone with her co-students, she is actually having the opposite behaviors. From that moment, some people may be deceived by that student that will lead to several conflicts. The people around that student may develop trust issues and as for the student, even though she will change that negative behaviors of her, other people may still not trust her no matter what good actions she did.

We often hear the words "I thought you're a kind person but after what you did, my impression for you had changed." So, be careful in socializing with others. You didn't know what's the real color of that person whose with you right now. Our country (Philippines) is having a problem with plastics, not just in terms of garbage but also the plastic people out there. 😏

Oh, be careful with snakes as well. Some people may treat you nicely but they are already backstabbing you behind. Their venom is the most poisonous of all, because it will kill you mentally and emotionally, not just physically.

Take care of yourself, my friend. πŸ™‚

Author's Note:

Thank you for reading my article. I hope you learn something from it. Bare with me for the grammatical errors I've comm itted if there's any. Have a good day. β€οΈπŸ’–

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2 years ago


Highly appreciate for you.. I like the way that how you explain the whole article.. Specially i like the way that you have shown the comparison between real self and ideal self.. As i'm newbie in this platform it will help me to increase my explanation skill.. Thank you so much..

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2 years ago

Thank you for appreciating my article. I hope you've learn a lot from it.

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