ideal vs real self

There are many ways the topic of this post can go, but for today I am reflecting on what I heard during a recent speaking engagement. To start off, who we truly are is our real self, which encompasses our triumphs, struggles, and honest thoughts and feelings. On the contrary, who we wish we were or think we ought to be is our ideal self. The speaker was suggesting that two strangers who meet at a cocktail party will present their ideal selves to one another in fear of being judged or rejected if their true selves were revealed. So instead of sharing with each other how they truly feel or what’s realistically occurring in their lives, a facade will be showcased. Thus, no one gains anything from these fabrications because 1) the strangers do not get a chance to truly get to know each other, 2) one or both strangers will be intimidated by the other because they don’t measure up, and 3) one or both strangers will continue this habit to inflate their ideal selves to others in order to continue covering up their insecurities. This got me wondering: What happens when two strangers meet and one is their real self and the other is their ideal self? Does the person who is the real self encourage the person who is the ideal self to become more authentic? Does the person who is the ideal self feel intimidated if the other person is their real self? Is one scenario better than the other- ideal meets ideal or ideal meets real? There is much to think about and I’d like to hear your insights. Also, when you meet strangers, do you present your real or ideal self?

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About Reaksmey

hi :) i'm reaksmey (reeks-may) and I love to think, reflect, and grow. do you? my life includes a handsome husband and a lively infant. here's where i write about how i grow through life's ups and downs so that i can humbly encourage you daily.
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6 Responses to ideal vs real self

  1. AstridKurniawan says:

    Honestly, I think I shut down (my body does I mean).  My physiological response to this is very strong as somehow my body is able to detect falsities/exaggerations/embellishments better than my mind can.  I usually start of having 0 basis for strangers I’ve just met, maybe slightly leaning towards a positive inclination of them, but within the first five minutes, somehow I start either becoming more energized by them, or pretty much become drained from being in their presence.  

    JKShea Reply:

    @AstridKurniawan
    Astrid, I agree. I think most people can detect someone not being real a mile away, and I’ll go as far as to say most people are not being totally real when you first meet them. That’s not necessarily a reason not to like them, as people have many reasons for not being real and usually open up over time. What’s more important, I think, is how much they exaggerate their ideal self, which I think is a much better reason not to like someone 😉

    Reaksmey Reply:

    That’s a good point JK and supports what I just posed in response to Astrid’s comment.

    Reaksmey Reply:

    I am similar. I’m glad your body can detect this quickly. I wonder sometimes if we’re 100% correct in our quick judgment (and it’s a gift of ours) or if it’s premature and something beautiful could have come to fruition had we given it more time…

  2. JKShea says:

    Here’s another thought. What about when being real is socially inappropriate, as in, someone you meet asks you how you are doing, and you say, “Terrible, I just had a big fight with my wife and hit my dog while backing out of the garage on the way to this party, which I’m only attending because I want to suck up to my boss.” there’s a good movie about this called The Invention of Lying,” with Jennifer Garner and Ricky Gervais. This leads to the question, what are some tips for being polite and real/honest at the same time?

    Reaksmey Reply:

    I think there’s a difference between presenting your real self and a real response. I can be my real self and tell you real things about myself, but that doesn’t mean I will step outside the social boundaries of telling you that I just got in a fight with Daniel when you ask me “How are you?” In due time (minutes, days, or never) I can share that once I have the opportunity to share more about my real self. What do you think JK?

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