Actual Self vs.Ideal Self

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Actual Self vs. Ideal Self:
A Review of Self-Esteem


This paper will serve as a review of the actual self vs. ideal self and illustrate that discrepancies in behaviors associated with the need for positive self-esteem, the need for self-gratification and the consequences do exist. It will reveal that a burden within whom we are and who we wish to be is evident and unavoidable unless there is an awareness of this distress.

Self-esteem also known as pride, self-respect or a favorable opinion of oneself also includes the attitudes one has about the things they do, how they act, and other social aspects that make a person who they are.

Distress in behaviors will allow a person to react irrationally and at times follow their impulses as opposed to logic and rational. The references cited and the article discussed proves that a person’s action can be influenced by the need for competency or self-worth. This paper will exam the relation between behaviors, self-esteem, and self-benefit.

Emotion is central to human communication, as it allows researchers to focus on a variety of issues such as fear, sadness, happiness, self-esteem and sense of worth. Emotions are puzzling to many, as it may cause an inner distress when trying to decide between the people we are and the person we wish to be (Izard, 1991).

When describing self-esteem and what a person’s attitude may be towards his or her own attitude or image, we can spotlight on what that individual feels his or her self-value is. Self-value can include many aspects that can cause a person to feel positive or negative towards themselves such as how a person feels about their job, their achievements, their place in the world and their potential for success. These are just a few of the many ways an individual rates their self on how their self esteem is.

I will embark on the theory of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is a feeling of discomfort and distress caused by two or more inconsistent cognitions consequently defined as being caused by an action that is different from one’s customary self-conception. In other words, causing a person to act in a way that is not common or normal for that person’s nature.

Brehm (1976) stated the following:

Cognitive dissonance was defined as a motivational state that impels the individual to attempt to reduce and eliminate it. Because dissonance arises from inconsistent knowledge, decreasing or eliminating the inconsistency can reduce it. According to Festinger’s analysis a person who could find nothing to fear is motivated by cognitive dissonance either to reduce his fear or to find some fear-provoking event.

Imagine a person who cannot find the cause of his fears. He is quite consistent about being usually fearful, but on the other hand cannot understand the reason for his fear. For this reason Festinger (1957) called this psychological state “cognitive dissonance”.

The following statement exemplifies a cognitive dissonance that can cause an overwhelming inconsistency:

“Individuals are motivated to maintain a sense of consistency among their beliefs and perceptions about themselves. When there is a discrepancy between the actual self and the ideal self, an individual experience distress. As human beings we have a need for positive self-esteem; to feel good about ourselves. Can this need be so strong that it overpower our logic and lead us to act in ways that are not to our own benefits?”

There are areas within us that contain information that are known to others and ourselves, or perceptions of us that others have but we don’t, or information and perceptions that we have about ourselves but choose not to reveal to others or information about ourselves that neither others nor we know are foundations for many of our behaviors.

Understanding these discrepancies within our actual self and our ideal self has much to do with the person we are today. Our behaviors are not studied so...
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