We each have a nightmare self, an ideal self, and a real self. It is helpful to be aware of these competing selves in order to live our life to the fullest.

Photo by Mubarak Show on Unsplash

The Nightmare Self

Our nightmare self represents those parts of us we don’t want, an expression of our fears, insecurities, and negative possibilities. For example, we don’t want to be abusive, incompetent, or unfaithful. While we don’t want to live in fear, being familiar with our nightmare self is helpful in discovering who we truly want to be. Many times, it is easier to name what we don’t want than what we do want.

The Ideal Self

The best version of ourselves, our highest potential, is represented in our ideal self. This is the man we want to be, a man who is confident, creative, and generous – a man others can rely on for both his strength and compassion. For Christians, this is best exemplified in the person of Jesus Christ.

The Real Self

The real self is who we actually are in our daily lives, often a mix of our nightmare and ideal selves. Here our ego often gets the best of us and we live under the assumption that we are supposed to figure life out on our own. Fearing our nightmare self we double down on “doing more,” but never moving closer to our ideal self. Or, believing our ideal self is unattainable we don’t even try to improve ourselves. Instead, we focus on keeping the bills paid and avoiding the extreme expressions of our nightmare self.

We are living in a generation in which the presence of good men can no longer be taken for granted. We exist, but our stories are rarely told. And this leaves the many nightmare stories to be the only ones many hear of.

Moving toward our ideal self is hard work, but our generation desperately needs more men to do this work.

Imagine a world in which there were more creative, generous, and strong men – men who could fiercely protect their community and provide their life-giving presence. These men would be capable of building stronger families and a stronger society.

This is possible. And it simply starts with having a desire for more.

Don’t settle.

Acknowledge your real self, learn from your nightmare self, and then keep pressing toward the mark of your ideal self.

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

Leave a Reply