We, the Homo sapiens, said to be the most developed species of this bio-diverse environment, are becoming ruthless predators, exterminating the members of our own species. Though growing economically, scientifically, educationally and materialistically, we are regressing morally. We are conquering the universe but ironically fail to control our own minds and thought processes.
We only want to be triumphant….we try to win over everything, making ourselves hypercompetitive and over ambitious. The increasing insensitivity and degenerating value system owe their existence to lack of moral development, which should begin from the childhood. To build a sense of self acceptance and moral virtues, the knowledge of our own ideal and real self is a preliminary requirement.
The ideal self is a cocktail of all the attributes which are considered to be "good" whereas real self portrays "who we actually are". The ideal self instructs us to be compassionate, kind, prudent, honest, helping, pure, virtuous and what not! But in reality the real self cannot possess all these characteristics into one single individual. The real self remains “human” and can’t be “humane” as perceived by our ideal self. There remains a chasm between the two. The greater the gap the greater is the risk of loss of self esteem and increased frustration in the individual. This incongruity can lead to development of symptoms of neurosis.
Ideal self persuades us to be exquisite human beings without any flaws and shortcomings. We are ruled by the tyranny of “shoulds” “musts” and “oughts”. Thoughts like “I should be altruistic”, or “I should be kind and giving”. But if the real self is able to be kind and giving only to the near ones and not to beggar sitting in the corner of the street, there is a mismatch between both the selves!! The problem arises when the standards of ideal self become unattainable and unachievable. The real self, when fails to come up to the expectations of the ideal self, there is a feeling of self hatred, tension and depression. All this can result in unhealthy minds and emotions. We then begin to question our own competencies.
For e.g. there is a natural tendency that parents dream of making their children what they themselves could not become. To achieve this objective they often create an ideal self in their children which is not only dangerous but sometimes stupid.
Some of us want to be perfect parents, perfect spouses or perfect siblings! While striving to do be “the perfect ones”, we often ignore the humanity or the human part in us i.e. our ideal self sometimes doesn’t comply with real self. But if we allow ourselves to be imperfect and make mistakes, the gap between real and ideal can be filled easily, making us mentally healthy.
If the ideal self is realistic and healthy then it becomes pertinent to train the real self to be compatible with it. Then the real self needs to practise identifying varied situations and act appropriately. If the ideal self says that we need to be strong and powerful, then the real should express itself physically in such a way that it does not harm others nor does it intrude into the lives of others. To gain strength we don’t have to be arrogant, abusive, or violent. Physical strength can be gained by exercising, sports etc. Real self just needs to adjust and make behavioural changes.
On the other way round, ideal self also needs to be based on reality. A vision needs to be developed. We need to learn to face criticism and establish a healthy code of conduct.
The aim is to prevent the real self from clashing with the ideal self…In other words we need to have an “idealized reality”. This would make us more sensitive to the needs of others and even our own needs, hopes and aspirations.