Channeling your ideal self: Is it possible?
Each of us carries around certain images of ourselves. There’s a good chance that one of those images is an idealized version of ourselves. Maybe that image has a more interesting job. Maybe she eats better. Chances are she also knows how to act towards other people (real or imagined), but in real life, we can’t always muster this ideal behavoir.
Considering how complex and unpredictable real life is compared our fantasies, it makes sense why this is the case. We encounter something unexpected (while we’re hungry/tired/juggling five other things demanding our attention), and we end up saying or doing something that makes us cringe upon reflection. Mistakes like these are just part of the game.
That being said, I like to think that we have this image of ourselves for a reason. Of course, we can never reach perfection—and we shouldn’t try! There’s no harm in trying to channel a kinder, more patient self, however.
I have an active imagination. Often, as I’m falling asleep, my mind runs like a movie wheel. Scenes both remembered and completely imagined play and replay in my head, and Ideal Me always knows what to say and how to behave. She’s more thoughtful and more giving—but not so giving that she loses too much of herself. Sometimes I’ll pause and think—why don’t I act more like this in real life? If I can imagine it, can’t I at least get closer to it?
Perhaps—especially if we allow that this mental role playing is a kind of rehearsal for real life. For many of us, it happens automatically when we’re not really “thinking.” But what if we took a more active role in the process? Why not consciously channel our ideal selves during our everyday interactions? Think of it as an exercise in mindfulness.
Let’s try it!
How to channel your ideal self:
1. Close your eyes. Imagine a moment when you wish you had behaved differently. Alternatively, create an imaginary scene that’s similar to a repeating situation that challenges your patience/kindness/self-love/comfort level.
2. Observe how your ideal self navigates these situations. It may take a few tries to get it right or make the scene realistic. Think about it for as long as you need to.
3. In a few words or phrases, describe this desirable behavior. Write them down it if helps.
4. As you go about your day, refer back to this list. Actively bring those traits into your behavior where they apply, one action at a time. (Remember, we’re ruling out perfection for sanity’s sake.)
5. Customize this practice to your liking as you learn more about what strategies are more effective for you.
One last thing: When we consider our identity, we often think of it as something fairly static—or at least linear. We go through a series of phases, we grow, time passes, or so the idea goes. Consider this, however: our concepts of our own identities are more likely to be stories we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to see our lives as part of a distinct narrative when, in fact, our lives, our personalities are far more dynamic and fluid.
This realization may make us feel a bit unmoored from all sense of certainty, but it can also be freeing in a positive way—a way that gives us permission to change as we please. This means that if that ideal self is floating around, she may be a little less out of reach than we may think. 😉
More in Inspired Living: 3 Ways to Be Rich in Life
Photo: Ben Barnes via Flickr