Are there things that you feel that you’ve wanted to be and do or that you should have but haven’t? In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I’m talking about the idealised version of ourselves that we often unwittingly give us a really hard time about. I talk about perfectionism, expecting too much of ourselves to the point of being ridiculous, and share some ideas for getting to know our idealised self and being kinder to ourselves in the process.
Nuggets from the episode
- The pandemic triggered an accomplishments Olympics where some people gave themselves a hard time for not having used the pandemic as an opportunity to do all the things. Their idealised self would have learned an instrument, written a bestselling book, become a domestic goddess — something!
- Often we’re beating us up for not having lived up to these idealised versions of ourselves.
- ‘Should’ is often the clue that your idealised self has made an appearance.
- My body hasn’t looked the way my idealised self thinks it should for over sixteen years. I’ve absorbed body standards throughout childhood and adulthood that suggest that the changes in my body are undesirable, problematic and ‘should’ be changed.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to change certain things about our body, but when our idealised self is based on self-criticism, shame and judgement, we have a problem.
- Your idealised self represents standards you think you should be living up to. It represents this version of you that you’d like to be or possibly who you think you should already be.
- Adulthood is about unlearning all of the unproductive and harmful stuff that we’ve picked up along the way. So part of our evolution is growing into our values and growing as a person.
- Your idealised self may be a manifestation of perfectionism. You might be holding you to highly unrealistic standards that lead to self-criticism, burnout and avoiding intimacy and vulnerability.
Perfectionism is a suit of armour that protects us from vulnerability and lets us think we’re in control. When we have to face a new challenge, we want it done yesterday because we’re scared of the vulnerability between where we are now and where we want to be.
- You know your idealised self is in the house when you’re
- Self-critical, especially if it’s habitually
- Underappreciating and devaluing yourself
- Settling for crumbs and playing it small because we’ve decided that we’re not enough
- Taking shortcuts
- Ignores boundaries, bandwidth, needs and values
- Comparing ourselves to our idealised self
- Choose unhealthy partners and situations
- We make decisions based on this fantasy that we already are our idealised self or based on trying to take a shortcut to becoming our idealised self, and then we blame our real self for it. Yes, that would be the same real self that you didn’t involve and take care of in the original decision!
- There’s nothing wrong with wanting to grow, evolve, be better than before. The problem comes in when we can’t accept who we are right now and operate from that space. The problem occurs when we hate who we are.
Being disconnected from our actual self because we’re too focused on pushing us to live up to our idealised self is what leads to burnout.
- I’ve always demanded a lot of myself and I recently realised after watching an episode of Modern Family that it was because I wasn’t ‘seen’ in my childhood. They decided I could do things and I just had to perform. No one asked how I was doing or whether I could cope. Struggles were seen as a sign of weakness and failure. So, it’s no wonder I expect a lot of myself. Now, I have a more boundaried relationship with me.
- Healthy comparison allows us to spot opportunities to grow. We feel motivated. When we carve at ourselves with comparison and end up feeling unworthy and demotivated, that’s not healthy.
- When we’re obsessing about who’s the winner/loser or right/wrong or who has the power, this is where we need to acknowledge our idealised self. We need to ask, But how do I truly feel about this, and what do I want? And we’ll likely find that we’re not anywhere near as invested as our ego.
- Acknowledge that you have an idealised self. If there’s a big difference, be curious about why. Is it based on unrealistic expectations?
- In an ideal world where you’re living up to the standards and being and doing all the things you think you’re supposed to, what does that look like? How do you feel? What do you do and what do you have? What does your life look like? If there’s a big difference between your real and idealised self and you’re unhappy, you have a big clue as to why.
- Does your ideal self allow you to honour your needs, boundaries, bandwidth and values? If it doesn’t, you need to look at the parts of it that are destructive and blocking you from being more of who you really are and taking care of you.
- If you became your idealised self, who would that please? Recognising whether your idealised self is about people-pleasing can help you to be kinder to you with your boundaries and self-care. You will also get to deal with the baggage behind this idealised image of you. How can you make it more about pleasing you in a loving, caring, trusting and respectful way?
- Becoming curious about my idealised self has helped me befriend the perfectionist parts of me. When you do the same for you, you will be more self-compassionate instead of hating on you for not living up to unrealistic expectations.
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