Fixing The Idealist’s Dilemma
This is for all my idealists out there.
As a seeker, or perhaps just a human, you probably fall into the same trap that I do: I hold my ideals above my reality.
Now hold on, before everybody gets crazy about me using the word “reality”, I mean it in the simplest way. The state of things as they actually exist. Moving on.
You have goals. Aspirations, dreams, ideals.
They give you something to focus on, to work towards, and it elevates you when the current state of affairs are disappointing. Problems only arise when ideals become a point of resistance to the present moment.
You encounter something in yourself, an inclination, emotion, or thought, and because it isn’t a part of the vision, it’s rejected.
No, I’m not that way. I’m this way.
I’m all for creating yourself. It’s the only way to live the life of your dreams. But the directions for getting there are given to us in plain experience, in moment to moment existence.
A partner, friend, or family member does something annoying. For the idealist, it’s natural to focus on the best parts of the person only. You might brush off the uneasy feeling, or look away. These loved ones are held in a crystallized amber of love and appreciation, so it’s difficult when we notice a flaw in the stone.
You ignore it and say, “it doesn’t matter.”
But it does.
A promotion at work falls through, the article you’re working on goes nowhere, a poor test grade, or your fantasy week is a complete bust.
We, the idealists, have a tendency to downplay these events and focus on the good.
These events deserve our attention.
Yes, the self-judgement, your partner being lazy, and Dez Bryant’s flop last week all have something in common: the need of our acknowledgement. Without it, they leave a nasty residue.
A small, negative experience carries real energy. Without a genuine acknowledgment, you’ve simply buried the seed. It’ll come back. This time, though, it’ll be a plant.
I challenge you to give these seeds immediate attention.
Acknowledge your inner judge. Write it down. If that doesn’t help, go to someone. It could simply be someone nearby, you could call a friend. Everyone loves to be included, it makes them feel special.
Speaking of inclusion, you’ve got to tell your loved ones when you feel something.
As idealists, I know you’re not focusing on every little thing that isn’t perfect. That’s just not the nature of the idealist. But if something truly bothers you, there’s a reason.
It’s your privilege to uncover these seeds of truth and expose them to the light of consciousness. Give them a chance to bloom right then, before they become something more. You’ll be surprised when a partner has been waiting for an excuse to discuss the topic, and you come to a new understanding. Or, a problem is quickly concluded, and a deeply satisfying, seemingly unrelated conversation ensues. A parent tells you a story you’d never heard. A coworker confides in you.
These are all opportunities to grow closer.
And the defeats in life? These experiences are spoken instructions from your ideal life.
Of course you failed that test, you studied the wrong sections. Next time, talk with classmates before an all-nighter.
The article sucked, yeah, but no one ever said it was going to be easy to be a full-time writer. Keep going. Everything you write is preparing you for greatness.
And Dez Bryant? Well, you should’ve done pre-draft research.
It’s not going to be easy. But the greatest things in life never are.
Idealists hold themselves and their visions for life in a rose-colored light. This is critical to realizing dreams.
But when there are breaks in the rose-colored lens, you have to look through them, not around them.
Give those impulses room to breathe.
Let the judgements come to light with careful, direct attention.
Breathe into feelings of anger or distrust, and express them gently, with authenticity. Stay in touch with the feeling while you express it. You’ll watch it disappear into a new experience, a sort of alchemy.
For idealists, it’s easy to view anything less than ideal as negative. Call it what you want, those less-than-perfect feelings are real, and they’re a gift. Luckily, they can be as brief as they are ultimately insignificant.
Even when illuminated by careful attention, these events leave a residue. Only now, they become the glue that connects your current reality with your ideal one.
Good luck, friends.
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