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How To Let Go Of Your Fantasy Self And Find The Real You

Am I Living In A Fantasy?

    What is a fantasy self? My 9-year-old self would say mermaid or fairy! And to be honest it’s not too far off from what a fantasy self is for some people. A fantasy self is defined according to the blog A to Zen Life as “a highly idealized image of not only who you want to be, but also who you want others to perceive you as being”. I feel like every time I transition to my next phase of life I would create a new fantasy self.  In middle school, I was trying to be the emo kid who only enjoyed wearing black and listening to sad music, but my parents weren’t too keen on the wardrobe change. In high school, I wanted to be the girly girl that all the boys liked. When I entered college I wanted to be the laid-back girl who was not afraid to express her mind and was chill, essentially veering towards “ not like the other girls” which, thank god I didn’t get that far into that fantasy self. Now, I’m in my wife and mommy fantasy self. Want to hear my fantasy self? Here it is. In my fantasy self, I’m a mom who works out to maintain my “toned” body, wakes up early, feeds my kids healthy food all the time, has the patience of a saint, and never nags or gets upset with her husband ever, keeps the house clean at all times, and reads lots of books. Let me tell you, that’s not the real me. 

What Is The Real Me And How Do I Find It?

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. — Aristotle

    So what is the real you? How do we know what is the real us? What if I don’t like the real me?  And let me tell you I was stumped by these questions.

    Let’s start with the question, how do you find the real you?

    Upon doing research the best answer I found that summed up what I read in other articles came from Tony Robbins. His article is called How To Find Yourself and he lists 5 ways to help you find out who you really are. 

1. Reflect on your past

Reflect on how your past has impacted you now. You can use a journal to keep track of your thoughts and analyze how they made you who you are today. 

2. Determine your values 

We have an idea in our head of who we “should” be – but this idea of ourselves comes from limiting beliefs that are formed as a result of others’ opinions, not our own. You can change your values. You can be whatever you desire, as long as you believe in yourself.

3. Silencing negative self-talk

Examine your thoughts as if you are your own best friend – you’d probably never let your friends talk to themselves that way. Once you recognize damaging thoughts, replace them with empowering ones that push you toward your goals instead of holding you back.

4. Discover your strengths 

To start the process, think back on the last time you felt like you were in your element. Were you writing, singing, playing a sport, connecting with someone on a deep level, fixing things around the house, or volunteering? This feeling of happiness and purpose is a sign of your strengths.

5. Recognize what doesn't serve you. 

The human brain craves patterns because they conserve energy. When we fall into patterns, the brain doesn’t have to make decisions about certain actions and behaviors. Patterns can be extremely damaging, but once you recognize them, you can build better habits that serve you.

    When reviewing this list I realized I have a long way to go. I don’t like looking back on my past. Not because I’ve gone through anything traumatic, but because the past is the past and you can’t change it. Why do I let my brain wander there? But I realize that having self-reflection on my past is important to discovering my true self. It can also answer the question of why I desire my fantasy self. Why do I desire to be the person that works out hard every day and wants a rock-hard body 24/7? Just a quick reflection and I ask myself maybe it’s the fact that I come from a family where a few members are overweight and I don’t desire to be the way they are, and my brain is going to the extreme opposite of what I fear becoming. Or the fact that I saw my mother get confrontational a lot with my dad makes me want to be the exact opposite and go to the extreme that my fantasy self never gets angry ever at my husband. Moments of reflection make me dissect my fears and why I desire to be my fantasy self? 

    When going to the second point of determining my values, what is a value? A value according to the University of Texas “values are individual beliefs that motivate people to act one way or another. They serve as a guide for human behavior”. I realized that I don’t think I have any. Which sounds bad, it’s not that I don’t know right from wrong or don’t know how to treat people, etc. It's more like I have never written out on paper what beliefs I feel are most important to me that make me who I am. That is something I need to work on asap to better understand who I am and not find that value in my fantasy self.

    When it comes to the third point of discovering my strengths it's still a work-in-progress. Tony’s article does say to think back to a time when you were in your element and think about how you felt as you were doing said thing as a guide to help determine your strength. I feel like I'm in my element when I'm researching. And I feel like I am in my element when I'm blogging. Maybe that's a strength? I'm not sure. Again, more homework for myself and possibly for you if you're in the same boat.

     The hardest for me in these 5 points is silencing negative self-talk. I am my worst critic and the meanest. I pick myself apart a lot, whether it's my looks or just me as a person. But, if I become nicer to myself I can hopefully slowly move away from the idea of only thinking I'm worth having good things said to me even if it's myself only when I have achieved becoming my fantasy self

    Lastly, find what doesn't serve me and get rid of it. I need to dig deep and find what's not serving me. I have never taken time in recent years to figure out what in my life can I get rid of, whether that be habits, objects, or people. Now I don't think I need to give up on people in my life, since I'm very introverted and my close relationships consist of my family. But, behaviors and objects that don't serve me I can see if I can find. I may even write another blog post about my process of getting rid of those things. 

What if I Don't Want To Get Rid Of My Fantasy Self?

    I understand why you may not want to get rid of your fantasy self because you see him/her as aspirational and something to work towards. But there is a major difference in having a fantasy self and having a goal. 

Fantasy Self vs Goals 

The main difference in having a fantasy self and having goals is that a goal is something to you’re actively working towards. Fantasy is something you wish for and take no initiative to achieve it. Goals are also measurable and should be S.M.A.R.T. What do I mean by S.M.A.R.T? S.M.A.R.T is an acronym for the following criteria to make a goal more successful. 

A goal must be...

 Specific (simple, sensible, significant).

Measurable (meaningful, motivating).

Achievable (agreed, attainable).

Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).

Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

    So if your fantasy self is something you actually want to aspire towards you have to put in the work which requires you to get out of that fantasy mentality of being wishful. And during the process, the real you will come out. I may not be toned 365 days a year, that's the fantasy but, I can set a goal to be more active, by going on a walk every day Monday-Friday for a month and aiming to get 10,000 steps a day to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle. It follows the S.M.A.R.T goal criteria while also helping me better myself to be the best me that's real and not a fantasy.