The Idealized Self

Robert Novitsky


It’s a huge psychological SHOCK when you realize that the IDEA you had about yourself … was WAY off.

People do not like to face themselves as they ARE now. It’s so much easier to believe that you are what people think you are. How do we know ourselves? We know ourselves through others — a feedback loop. Even that feedback loop, however, may be WAY off. You may think a person hates you, when in reality, they absolutely respect you, but have a hard time showing it.

You may think of yourself as THE MAN or you may think of yourself as a LOSER. Either way, your perspective is delusional. A positive attitude or a negative attitude is just that — an ATTITUDE. Ask yourself — why must you put on a face? Why can’t you face who you are NOW? Simple. It’s way too painful. So, what most people do is “live” through a fantasy or a distorted image of who they want to be or who they “see” themselves as being. An exercise that really scared me when I first did it will be presented below.

WARNING: You may get insomnia, anxiety, anger, etc. for some time before you come to accept your present situation. Don’t worry too much about that. It is an unavoidable result of lying to yourself for years. Keep in mind though that to be truly successful, one must see things clearly. Many successes that you respect — the people you look up to — have gone through hell first before they arrived where they wanted to be.

So, the exercise is as follows (I will, of course, give credit to Dr. Christopher S. Hyatt for this mind fuck of an exercise he called Despair Math) … You must answer as truthfully as you can — leave your ego at the door, and accept that you have work to do. This is not what you want to be, or believe you deserve. This is where you are NOW. REMEMBER — IT’S OKAY. Nobody is judging you. This is for you, and you alone. You can destroy it when you are finished, but you will not forget once you’re through.)

On a scale from 1–7 (1 being the lowest and 7 being the highest), give yourself a number that represents where you are NOW. It might ease you to know that this is not WHO you are because who you are is POTENTIAL. The only one holding you back is YOU, and fear will have to be accepted. Use this fear — do not ignore it. You might have been crippled by “society,” your caregivers, or any number of things/events in the past. Accept that these things happened to you, and you dealt with them the way that you knew how AT THE TIME. Don’t beat yourself up. Rather, tap into the potential that you ARE, and GROW, dammit!

1) Intelligence 1–7

(2) Knowledge 1–7

(3) Wealth 1–7

(4) Sex 1–7

(5) Health 1–7

(6) Motivation 1–7

(7) Education 1–7 (*There is a difference between knowledge and education. Look it up.)

(8) Special Skills 1–7

(9) Attractiveness 1–7 (*physical and personality — Hey, you might not be handsome, but you might have a HELLUVA personality to show for it. Factor in both. Keep in mind that physical attractiveness can be improved upon through clothing, physical activity, diet, and even your personality can make you look attractive — a smile is better than no smile.)

(10) Social Skills 1–7

(11) Resistance to Anxiety and Fear 1–7

(12) Resistance to Depression 1–7

(13) Power 1–7

(14) Enlightened 1–7

(15) Other 1–7 (*Use as many of these as you need)

If you aren’t sure about some of them, that’s okay. As you work more and more on gaining real-world experience and knowledge, you will find that your answers will become more refined. For now, just answer to the best of your abilities. Be real with yourself now! Otherwise, this exercise will only leave you with a sense of guilt. If, for example, you are a virgin, be honest and give yourself a 1. If your sex life is good but your health is lacking, then be honest!

It’s okay.

If you actually DO this exercise (WRITE IT DOWN) rather than think it, it will be far more beneficial for you. The reason is that thinking you know something vs. verbalizing/writing it down are two different beasts. The former will keep you in abstraction, while the latter will give you a visual — instant feedback. It’s like keeping a diary: Thinking about what you did on a certain day is not the same as writing it down because writing it down will force you to make sense of the chaos which is your mind. Therefore, your thinking will be clearer; more refined.

Now, add up all of the individual scores and come up with a TOTAL score. Then take this total score and divide it by the number of questions you answered. Come back in a day or two (allow yourself to process) and then continue with the final part of this exercise.

Did you wait a few days? Good. Now, take the same test, except this time circle the number which represents what you WANT. Some things that you may want to write down: Is this desire highly probable? How hard are you willing to work at achieving your goal? What actions are you going to take? Add up the individual scores and come up with a TOTAL score. Divide this number by the number of questions answered.

Finally, subtract the average score from the first survey from the average score on the second. The number that results from this formula is your Despair Coefficient. You may also do this for each individual question to see where the greatest disparities occur. Let’s say you presently have an average score of 3 (survey 1) and you want an average score of 5 (survey 2). Your Despair Coefficient is +2. This is your measurement of despair and your goal for improvement. Now do this for each individual question (i.e., Attractiveness). If your score is 3 for what you have now for Attractiveness, and you want an average score of 6, your Despair Coefficient is +3. Ask yourself how realistic this is, and figure out what you will have to do in order to accomplish this goal.

Well, that’s Despair Math! Fun, huh?

So, what is the idealized self? It is the “I should be this” mentality. Brutalizing yourself is the result of not living up to those fantasies. Paraphrasing Dr. Hyatt, the disparity between who you ARE now and how you want to see yourself is HUGE. It is an IDEAL IMAGE. You want to see yourself as your best self, and if anything interferes with that, then you are reminded of how you really ARE. This causes anxiety, anger, depression, etc. That’s why it could be a danger to point out someone’s weaknesses to them DIRECTLY. Someone might even kill you for it. Be careful. When a person’s image of himself is shattered, anything can happen. Avoid doing this, and focus instead on getting clear about your life. Occasionally you may have the urge to point out others’ faults. This can happen when you are feeling overwhelmed and depressed. You will simply want to see the negatives about other people to help cope. Notice you are doing this, and STOP.

Ask yourself — “Who am I living for?” This may help you gain some perspective. In other words, don’t worry about where others are, worry where YOU are in your journey toward becoming WHO YOU ARE. When I say “becoming who you are,” I mean — well, let me give you an example. When you were a kid, you had limitless energy and creativity. Don’t fool yourself — you really were … and you still ARE. However, chronic adulthood STIFLES the body/mind. You have a full-blown case of amnesia. You can blame many people for that, but it is simply the human condition. The way that the brain develops determines how much freedom YOU ALLOW YOURSELF. There is a way to change that. Becoming WHO YOU ARE is re-claiming your courage, your power, and your freedom. Undoing yourself, on the other hand, is the process of deprogramming (in IT terms). The beliefs that LIMIT you are destroyed, so that you can FREE yourself from unnecessary suffering. Freeing up your energy to focus on developing yourself — not into your ideal … that is impossible because an ideal is a fantasy — but developing yourself to your highest level, and then going even higher …because there is NO LIMIT!

There were so many HATERS back in the day, and there still are. Those are people who set limitations on other human beings, including themselves. What is really possible? Many believed that sending a man to the moon was not going to be possible EVER. Ha! There were people who thought that the internet was a passing fad!

People will set limits on themselves, and they will set limits on you. You might realize though — the chains are invisible, and only YOU bind yourself. People will attempt to bring you down to their level. Don’t worry about them. Focus on where YOU ARE. Then BECOME WHO YOU ARE.

You are the Prison, the Guard, and the Prisoner. Give yourself some slack. Then BREAK FREE. Transcend “your” limitations. Nobody but you is holding YOU back.