Should and the Ideal Self

Beginning at a very early age, our ability to find meaning, purpose, happiness and love in our lives is made difficult by the introduction of our “ideal self,” as opposed to our authentic “real self,” the self we were born with.

Demands of Society

This ideal self, as proposed by psychologist Albert Ellis (1913-2007), Karen Horney (1885-1952) and others, is the self that has been polluted by unhealthy beliefs; the one that strives to live up to all of the unrealistic demands of society continually bombarding us. The ideal self fills our minds with unattainable expectations. This generates unnecessary failures, causing self-doubt, self-blame, low self-esteem and great negativity within. The result of this continual struggle and emotional frustration often develops into a third unhappy self – the “despised self.”

I Should Be Rich

The ideal self attempts to live up to a world of conformity filled with “shoulds.” “I should try harder in school,” “I should be on the varsity team,” “I should be beautiful,” “I should be in charge,” “I should be rich.” 

We are taught to believe that if we can attain unrealistic goals we can gain happiness, meaning and even love in our life. When in fact, it is this impossible struggle that leads to our unhappiness and depression. 

The “should” portion of your ideal self demands that your world be a certain way. That people act the way you want them to act. This prevents you from accepting the way things are, or how they are intended to be. It keeps you waiting for the instant gratification that never seems to come.

Rational Thinking

Returning to the real self, while not a simple task, requires rational thinking. Once we understand that we are not worthless for failing to achieve an unrealistic demand, we realize the goal is actually unattainable, illogical and self-destructive. The real self may feel upset and a little disillusioned, but the weight of unhappiness and depression will be lifted. This allows room for optimism and new possibilities.

Rational thinking focuses on accepting that sometimes things just don’t go the way we would like. That you really are a dependable person, and you aren’t destined to live your life alone in darkness. That you are, in fact, a lovable person, who can achieve greatness. Happiness is possible.

Self Trust Brings Progress

To live a happy life, we must learn to trust ourselves. With trust comes progress, confidence, and feeling comfortable making positive decisions, being independent, self-sufficient and self-aware.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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