Ideal Self: Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? (Self-Worth: Part 4)

Do you ever wish you were someone else?

What about having a different body?

In the past I would catch myself looking at others and wishing that I had their body. I thought that if I was 20 pounds lighter my life would fall into place. All of a sudden, I would have tons of friends, have a great job that I worked hard at, and I would never be in a bad mood.

That my friends is what those in psychology call the “ideal self.”

The ideal self is someone who we wish we were, an idealized image of who we want to be.

The problem with the ideal self is that it is unrealistic most of the time (see above: 20 pounds lighter me and never in a bad mood).

When our ideal self and our self-image do not overlap our self-worth goes down the tubes.

Our ideal self is crafted early on in life.

The ideal self is influenced by many facets of our life:

  • our parents
  • other people, friends, relatives, teachers
  • society
  • what we think is in our best interest

I remember so badly wanting to be like Jasmine from the Disney movie Aladdin and wondering if my waist was ever going to be as small as hers.

The Pinnacle of Human Existence

Carl Roger’s self-concept encapsulates the self-image, ideal self, and self-worth. These three parts of the self interact to create a frame in which the personality is developed (cite).

When all three components overlap and have balance, self-actualization, a state at which a person is at their very best, occurs.

Self-actualization is the pinnacle of human existence and it is believed that we all should be working to get to the state of self-actualization. (Here is an article discussing the 12 characteristics of a self-actualized person…interesting).

Who Is Your Ideal Self?

As we all work toward self-actualization, we must first understand how we define our ideal self.

In order to better understand this concept, I have some questions (referenced from here) as to who our ideal self might be…

Happy 100th!

Imagine you are at your 100th birthday, you have lived a long and wonderful life. What are people saying about you? What do you want people to be saying about you?

I would want them to say:

I am one of the kindest people they know, I am compassionate to others less fortunate than I, I have made the world a better place, I am honest, I worked hard to get to where I am now, I loved and was loved by many.

That is my ideal self.

Surprisingly thinness is not on the list. . .

Do I really want people to say, “she was in such great shape . . . and she never broke her diet?”

Absolutely not. . . that is way too depressing a thought.

From my definition of my ideal self I am able to tease out my values:

kindness, compassion, giving back to the world, honesty, hard working, and love.

This is a helpful tool to give some structure to what matters most.

What about you?

What do you hope people would say about you on your 100th birthday?

Does your self-image align with your ideal self?

If not, why?

I won’t bore you with the details of my alignment but I have some work to do. . .



We must remember that we are human and this life is a journey. All we can ask of ourselves is to do the best we can.

Rather than beating ourselves up about how far away from our ideal self we are, why not take this exercise as an act of compassion towards ourselve?

Maybe this is why we are not feeling our best: our self-image and ideal self are way off. Maybe we need a bit of realignment and adjustment.

Remember, all of these ideas and values come from our thinking. Understanding our thoughts is paramount to any lasting changes we will make.

Our thoughts affect our feelings which cause us to take or not take an action.

What thoughts do you have about your ideal self and your self-image? Do you truly believe that you will be able to be the person you want to be?

Think about what is standing in the way of who you want to be and who you are now.

What are those old beliefs cycling through your head? Are they holding you hostage?

I know for me, fear is a big one standing in the way. But it is important to know where the fearful thoughts are coming from and becoming aware of them when they pop up.

What I try to remind myself, is that I am not going to be perfect, and I don’t really want to be (that is a lot of pressure!).

Life is a journey. It is full of hills and valleys, and at the end of the day we can only do the best we can. After all it is OUR ideal self, OUR self-image, OUR self-actualization, and OUR thoughts.

We have the power to change. We have the power to live the best life possible.

Much Love and Kindness,

Megan P^2