This week, we will discuss the ideal: what it is, why it matters, how it’s dangerous, and how to use it to your advantage.
Table of Contents
- What is the ideal?
- Why does the ideal matter?
- Why is the ideal dangerous?
- How Can You Use The Ideal To Your Advantage?
- You Do Not Have To Fear Your Best Self
What Is The Ideal?
The ideal is you at your most perfect: no complaining, no weaknesses, no distractions, no vice. You are virtuous, flawless, accomplishing all goals, and achieving every dream.
Of course, the ideal is a fabrication and constantly swaying. It never stays in one place and moves as often as your goals and emotions do. Additionally, the ideal is just that: unreachable and a state of perfection no one can reach.
Why Does The Ideal Matter?
“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” – Michael J. Fox
The ideal matters because how we define ourselves is of the utmost importance. And our idealized self is not who we are but who we wish to be.
However, the vision can be fuzzy. The more specific details are not always there, but usually, the broader implications are quite obvious. Our idealized self might have a lovely house, for example, even if we do not know how big, where the house is, and so on. Additionally, your best self is described with words such as “happy,” “fulfilled,” “important,” or “accomplished.” These descriptions, while broad, still give insight into who you want to be.
Why Is The Ideal Dangerous?
Our perfect self is a harsh judge. Every time we fail to be our best selves, our flawless idol peers at us from the heavens and shakes its head.
And this what makes the ideal dangerous. It is the voice constantly reminding you of your failures. And the idealized self admonishes you for your imperfections. You are never good enough, and such self-attack is vicious and constant.
The greater your vision of yourself, the harsher the voice. Why? Because the more significant the aspirations, the higher you must climb. Thus, the ideal becomes a terrifying enemy. The genuinely vicious voices attack you for minor errors and create immense depression and anxiety.
Unfortunately, there is no way to get rid of the ideal. As long as you are human, you will want more and expect greatness from yourself. You can drown your aspirations in alcohol, porn, drugs, and other distractions. But the perfect self remains, provoking shame and guilt within you.
However, you can use this vicious voice to your advantage.
How Can You Use The Ideal To Your Advantage?
Recognize The Ideal’s Purpose
Firstly, accept the ideal serves a purpose. Denying perfection or rebelling against it is useless and self-destructive. For example, being in control of your urges and whims is ideal. You’ll waste your life and time if you rebel against this by being loose, ungrateful, and undisciplined.
Additionally, trying to achieve a life without standards is equally naive. Standards exist, and hierarchies are essential. Nihilism is useless and will ensure your precious life is wasted running away from yourself.
Avoid the cultural call to be rebellious just to rebel. If you envision a perfect version of yourself, then accept it.
You Are Not Meant To Be Perfect
“Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.” – Marcus Aurelius
Secondly, accept you are not perfect. You were never mean to be. Your humanity is not to be discarded or hated. It is a gift, and you should cherish your accomplishments and your flaws.
Your idealized self pushes you towards something more significant. You are human, and humans have aspirations, desires, and goals. You cannot live without wanting something. This want manifests as the ideal. Accept this reality and the unreachable nature of perfection will not scare you.
You are not perfect and never will be. But you must give an active, honest effort towards becoming your best self.
Be Willing To Challenge What You Think Is Your Perfect Self
Constantly challenge the vision you are seeing. Your perfect self may lack virtue in certain areas.
For example, I am good at being a lone wolf. My ideal self can be found on the farm, minding his own business. But is that truly ideal? What about my family and friends? Am I engaged enough with broader society so that it can reflect my values? Although rugged individualism is always a boon more than a bane, there are drawbacks.
Therefore, engage with your ideal self. See where the weaknesses lie and work towards fixing them. You do not have to accept the vision of your perfect self blindly: always be willing to engage with what you see.
Understand What The Ideal Is Doing And Set A Plan
Lastly, take note of what your ideal has and is doing. Does your perfect self live in a lovely house, is in good shape, and never complains? Then, you need to note this and write a game plan of how to obtain these things. Track your progress with clear and realistic goals, so you are always making steps toward what you envision.
You can control the ideal through your actions and thoughts. The more changes you make today, the better you can steer your vision of perfection in a more realistic and meaningful direction.
You Do Not Have To Fear Your Best Self
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” – Leo Tolstoy
Perfection scares people. Mainly, we are afraid by the effort, standards, and character such a vision demands of us. To be our best selves, we have to become better people.
But that gives life meaning. No matter what, there is no meaning in constant comforts and laziness. If you want to have a life worth living, you must direct your actions towards an ideal. This ideal will come to you, whether you want it or not. Do not run away.
Embrace what you see. Seek to accomplish what your perfect self has become. Do not wallow in self-pity.
You are capable of greatness.
- What does your ideal look like? Does it seem realistic to you? How would you go about reaching your perfect self?
- Does your perfect self constantly criticize you? How does it feel when it does so? What does it criticize you about?
- What’s one aspect of yourself you wish you can improve? How would you go about improving this aspect?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.