2 Sides of Self

carl rogers humanistic psychology personal growth self concept self-awareness Nov 01, 2022
2 Sides of Self

There are really two sides of self that we experience as we develop in life. As early as a few months old, we begin to discover that we are separate and unique from others. This first aspect of self-discovery is the existential self. Throughout our lives, we tend to battle with striving to be both separate and connected. This internal struggle is often why people begin attaching themselves to others, attempting to create clear definitions of their existence. These definitions create the categorical self, or the self in reference to the world outside of us.

As we grow through the various stages of development, we continuously go back and forth between the existential and categorical definitions of who we are. When people reference “finding themselves,” they are indicating an aspiration to integrate or even balance the definitions in their head. Think about this in your own life. Your categorical self, the one that knows your age, your job, your education, your family, the car you drive, and so many more definitions, is easier to define, but often the aspect that brings us stress. The existential self is evaluated for its differentiation. It reminds us that we are separate and unique and exist over time and space.

We exist in a society that tells us we are more acceptable when we are like other people. This continuous comparison of self to the world around us often creates a struggle between the ideal self and the self-image. What if you were to evaluate your existence only against your existence? What if you didn’t know to compare who you are to who you think other people are? The depression, anxiety, and struggle of this world is rooted in people believing that their variations are unacceptable and that their ideal self is unattainable.

I would challenge you to be intentional about identifying things about yourself that you do love, things that you intend to become, and the feeling of striving that accompanies forward momentum. When you create an ideal self, with a plan to pursue that self, while fully accepting what makes you uniquely you, you create alignment and hope. You have the power to embrace the two sides of self. I would challenge you to love you as you were, as you are, and as yo will be!

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