Our “ideal self” is who we want to become. It’s an image of ourselves that we develop over time. Our ideal self could come from what our parents taught us, what we admire in others, what our society promotes, our own values, or all of the above. Aligning the way you are with the way you want to be is a marathon, not a sprint. And it’s a really helpful exercise in motivating yourself to keep going. So, let’s try it.
If you’re having trouble visualizing what your ideal self looks like — that’s okay! Making out that model version of ourselves takes time. Below I’ll lay out two exercises, both of which are best practiced with pen and paper. This way, you can always refer back to your notes and reset: Where do I want to go again? Right. This is how I’ll get there.
First, let’s do some visualization. Put a face to your ideal self.
And as this ideal-self,
- How would you describe yourself? Name 3 adjectives.
- What is your life like? Name 3 adjectives.
- What does your relationship look like with alcohol?
- Where are you living?
- Where are you working?
- How would you describe your relationships? Your family, friends, partner(s)?
- How do you show up for others?
- How do you show up for yourself?
- What values are you living by?
- What opportunities do you have for growth?
Next, let’s determine how you can get there.
Grab a piece of paper and answer the following questions:
- How important is it to you to achieve the ideal self?
- What is your ideal relationship with alcohol?
- When are you planning to make the changes necessary to achieve this ideal self?
- What resources and opportunities do you have that will help you work toward your ideal self?
- What hurdles do you anticipate? How can these be part of the growth process?
- What factors inform your vision of your ideal self?
- Who do you know that is similar to your ideal self?
- What single, small behavior can you improve as the first step toward your ideal self?
- What’s a feasible way to chart your progress? A daily journal? Weekly check-ins with a friend? A sticky note on your mirror with a goal of the day? The month?
There you go! Now you should have a better idea of your ideal self, and how you can become more YOU. These lists will change over time, and you can re-do this exercise as many times as it’s helpful. I recommend every few months.
In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, there’s a teaching that I’d like you to think of during moments where you’re lacking motivation: “I’m doing the best I can, and I can do better.”
Push yourself to grow, and be patient with yourself along the way. Do this by creating an action plan that takes it day by day.
And keep in touch! Join me in the Monument Community, where I moderate a couple of online alcohol Support Groups and explore our Personalized Treatment options to learn about how alcohol therapy can help you change your drinking. I’m rooting for you!