Are you at war with yourself?
So much of our lives are spent battling against ourselves, that we begin to forget who we really are. We think we need to look like the celebrities, have a lot of money, be fit, and ultimately be “perfect”.
You may say to yourself:
“If I could look like her, my life would be perfect”
“If I had their money, I wouldn’t have any worries”
“If I could buy the hottest clothes, I would feel great about myself'”
Ideal Self v.s. Perceived Self
When we go searching for our ideal self we are expending energy on a needless war; the war between our perceived self (the way we see ourselves) and our ideal self (the way we would like to be).
Maybe you’re a Juicy Lucy lover who feels guilty every time that cheeseburger crosses your lips. You want to be thin but you also want that feeling of satisfaction when you take that first bite and savor the taste of cheese, onions, bread and the burger.
So what do you really want when you eat the cheeseburger? It’s a sense of controlling your hunger which leads to satisfaction which leads to a sense of inner calmness.
What are you really wanting when you want to be thin? It’s a sense of controlling your hunger (to be loved this time) which leads to satisfaction which leads to a sense of inner calmness. So the war you have created within yourself is coming from two, seemingly, opposite ideals; the desire to be thin and the desire to have a cheeseburger. However, when you look close enough these two ideals have the same goal; a sense of inner calmness. So what do you do? Eat the cheeseburger and then get your beautiful butt down to the gym.
Two Sides of the Same Story
Your perceived self is the self that needs the most loving. Some people disregard themselves every day, instead choosing to love their ideal self.
Imagine if you have two children, one of them is hard work and you seem to be constantly on at them for one reason or another the other is nearly perfect and you never have to tell them off for any reason. Would you love the ‘hard work’ child any less than the ‘perfect child’? of course you wouldn’t, it just means you have to find a way to work better with the ‘hard work’ child and encourage them.
So it is with your perceived self. You should look for ways to work better with your perceived self and accept yourself for who you are at the moment, knowing that change will come through gentle coaxing and encouragement and not forever declaring war with yourself.
Five Steps to Accepting Your Perceived Self
1. Acknowledge it
If there’s something you don’t like about yourself, acknowledge it. For example, I acknowledge the fact my stomach is slightly protruding.
2. Accept it
You don’t have to like it, but accept the fact, for the moment, that you have something you dislike about yourself.
3. Thank yourself
To acknowledge and accept something about yourself that you are not happy about takes guts and honesty. Thank yourself for that.
4. Know why you want change
If you want change to happen know exactly why you want the change. Get right down to the core of “why”. For example I want to change my protruding stomach so my man still finds me attractive -Why? So I can be accepted by my man meat – Why? So I can have a deep relationship – Why? So I can feel content – Why?, You get the picture, just get deep down to the root of why you want to change. Drill down, it will be worth it.
5. Gentle change v.s. drastic change
Gently coaxing yourself to change helps you to feel less stressed. If you want to lose weight keep eating the cheeseburgers for now but coax yourself to go to the gym or go for a walk after it or before it. You will find by doing this change will happen more naturally and the momentum will build up into the change you want.
The Cycle of Change
All change has a cycle to it whatever it is, from drug addiction to learning to read. The model from Prochaska and DiClemente states there are 5 stages to change:
You’re happy munching the cheeseburgers and don’t really care about your weight. You are not thinking about doing anything to change
You think maybe you’re eating too many cheeseburgers and maybe need to do something about your weight.
When you have actually managed to join the gym and start attending while cutting down on the cheeseburgers.
This is when you maintain your momentum and you keep going to the gym and are beginning to see change happening.
The stage where you have not been to the gym for a few weeks and munch on a few more cheeseburgers than you did at the action/eminence stage.
All of the stages serve their purpose and all of the stages will happen throughout the cycle of any change. So just because you relapse doesn’t mean to say you are never going to change, it just means you need to learn some more and the relapse will help with this.
The Way Others See You
It’s important to say that your perceived self is not necessarily the way others see you, however the way others see you is not going to help you in your war between your perceived self and your ideal self. No matter how many times someone tells you that you are good at something, if you believe you are not good at it, nothing anybody says will change you. You are the only person to be able to change you.
Sometimes drastic intervention is required by other people when you might have an overly distorted self image, such as people with anorexia. This is a mental health issue and should be treated professionally. However for the most part we all have a pretty accurate self image.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
Most people want to change something about themselves, even the celebs. We are all in the same boat. You want what they have and they want what you have. Accept yourself for who are, but acknowledge that you want to change. If you really do, take action. You got this, girl! Eventually, there will be peace between the perceived self and the ideal self.