How often do you look at where you are now and where you want to be and see a big chasm that you desperately want to cross?

Do you often feel frustrated when you look at your life because you know you are capable of so much more?

If you have, then you have felt what writer Nikki Davies refers to as ‘the gap.’

In her WellBeing article When Should’s Not Good she says, “In psychology, the ‘real self’ and the ‘ideal self’ are terms used to describe parts of your personality. The real self is who you actually are and incorporates how you think, feel, look and behave day to day, while your ideal self represents who you want to be … Issues can arise when the difference between who you are and who you want to be is too great.”

When we strive to become our ‘best selves’, we can become hyper-aware of what still needs to be done, achieved or changed. This awareness is what drives us forward…but it can also hold us back if we’re not conscious of how it’s impacting our thinking.

How does looking forward to our ‘best self’ affect our thinking and perception of ourselves now?

When we look into the future and towards our ideal self, we see what is lacking now and all the work yet to be done. Seeing our life and ourselves from this perspective can make us think our current self is a lesser version of who we could be.

While there is always more we can do to grow, develop, improve, heal and challenge ourselves, there needs to be a balance that respects and celebrates who we are today, what we have achieved to date and what we have overcome to be who and where we are today.

Personal branding expert Colette Werden agrees saying;

“I’m not really a fan of this ‘best version of you’ trend that’s going on right now. We need not focus on ‘being the best version of ourselves’. That’s saying that the version we are today — no matter the work we have put in, the hardship we have endured, the victories we have won that have shaped who we are today — is still not enough.”

So how can we re-connect with our amazing abilities, our resilience and our success today?

By looking backwards…

What is behind us is evidence of our resilience, generosity, past happiness and achievements. Looking back allows us to reconnect with our strength and to celebrate who we are today. The past allows us to find self-compassion, confidence and contentment.

When we look back, we can see clearly how far we have come, reminding ourselves that while we might not be our best self yet, we are still amazing people who have already gone through so much growth and evolution. Looking back can be grounding and self-affirming.

As we move forward in our lives, how can we strive for a balance between looking forward and also honouring our past and our growth?

Shift Your Perspective

1. Take some time to write down what you have come through to be who you are today.

2. Write down the lessons you have learned and how you have shared your life experiences to help others.

3. Do something nice for yourself to celebrate who you are today.

As we strive to improve and become our ideal self, it is worth remembering that we are actually seeking to improve what is already great — we are enough already!


This is an adaptation of my article that featured in WellBeing magazine.