Working on Roles and Idealized Self-Image
One's idealized self-image is an internalization of what one thinks one "should" do or be (in order to be loved, safe, valued, etc.) that implicitly discounts what we actually are and experience in the moment. This idealized self-image therefore is a defense against one's negative beliefs and feelings about one's self which remain (and are subconsciously picked up by others) despite any seeming "success" in living up to one's ideal. To resolve this dilemma, one must:
Bring these deep-seated negative images to a concise awareness
Realize their falseness
Understand specifically how the idealized self-image solution does not work
Gain a positive appreciation of the nature of one's self
Change one's thinking and behavior accordingly
Take time to address the following questions carefully:
1. What is your image of who or how you should be? Try to clarify the essential features and qualities you are trying to embody.
2. How did your parents or childhood experience influence tou to adopt this self-image or role?
3. Are there negative traits about yourself or things that you have a hard time accepting that your self-image attempts to compensate for?
4. Reflecting more deeply, can you find something good in these rejected aspects? What positive value can you find?
Although it may not be apparent, one's self-identified roles and pretenses actually display the aspect one is trying to conceal, that one dislikes and rejects in oneself, but in a different form. It takes effort to see clearly how this works relative to a specific role and to resolve it.
5. Identify some of your self-identified roles -- where you take on the role and have a hard time distinguishing a difference between yourself and the role -- and name each in a simple sentence that describes what they are meant to convey.
6. Find the element that you are rejecting and how it manifests in the role. For example, the role of being a victim rejects one's own power and autonomy. This power is used to blame and label others as well as one's self -- and thus be a powerful persecutor.
7. Meditate on how you can accept and own the denied parts of yourself, but in a more healthy and positive way.
8. Can you remember instances when you revealed parts of yourself that you normally hide? How did that feel? How did it turn out?
9. Visualize yourself behaving in a more honest and authentic way throughout the day and visualize others' positive reactions to the new you. How you really think and feel about yourself will be picked up and reflected by others.