Real Self and Ideal Self: Humanistic Psychology Explained

The real self is a person’s true identity, composed of all their traits, qualities, thoughts and feelings. It is unique to each individual and derived from their life experiences. Conversely, the ideal self is a conceptualized version of one’s best self: the individual they aspire to be. This may involve physical, mental, emotional and social characteristics that the person strives to embody in order to feel whole and satisfied with who they are. The gap between these two selves can create motivation for personal growth and change.

Understanding the Differences Between Real Self and Ideal Self

The concept of our real self and ideal self is often explored in counselling to help us better understand our identity and figure out how close or far away we are from achieving our goals and feeling fulfilled. Our real self is simply who we are; it includes everything about us on a physical, mental, emotional, and social level — all derived from our life experiences.

On the other hand, our ideal self is an idea of this “best version” of ourselves that we strive towards. It’s like our aspirations personified; what characteristics would we ideally have if everything turned out perfectly?

Exploring Humanistic Psychology for Self-Growth

One school of psychology particularly useful for furthering understanding between our real self and ideal self is humanistic psychology. This theory looks to understand individual personalities as a whole rather than breaking them down into components. Humanistic psychologists believe each person has limitless potential within them; however, some obstacles prevent this from being fully unlocked. It is believed that by working through these issues – such as accepting oneself and forming meaningful interpersonal relationships – one can build a strong foundation of trust and respect within themselves.

Carl Rogers believed that when the disparity between one’s real self and ideal self becomes too wide, it can lead to shattered identity or even psychosis. In order to create harmony between the two selves, Rogers advocated for unconditional positive regard (UPR). UPR means that we should accept ourselves without judgement regardless of any personal flaws or faults — it calls for unconditional acceptance of all people. Thus, this notion helps bridge the gap between the real and ideal selves by providing an environment where individuals can begin to recognize their most authentic persona.

Examples of How Humanistic Psychology Improves Self-Image and Achieves Goals

The goal of humanistic psychology is to support an individual’s capacity for growth which leads to healthier psychological states and increased ability to reach ambitions in life. Through its holistic approach it provides an avenue for learning innermost desires, allowing us to better understand the perfect being (our ideal self) that lies beyond our current shortcomings (our real self).

Exploring why we experience difficulty in life can be an empowering process. By understanding our issues, such as self-doubt and low self-worth, as chances to learn and reach our full potential, humanistic psychology provides us with a way to see them differently. It allows us to see that the contrast between our positive and negative experiences are part of the journey and key to personal growth.

Developing Strategies to Unlock Our Inner Potential

It all starts with enhancing how we think about ourselves. If done correctly, this can greatly improve both mental health outcomes as well as increase likelihood for success in achieving goals in life. The concept behind unlocking inner potential stems from positive reinforcement but also requires dedication — taking tangible steps over time to address underlying issues contributes greatly towards improved state of mind.

Tips and Techniques to Get the Most Out Of Humanistic Psychology

  • Identify Your Core Values:Figuring out what your personal values are is essential when trying to achieve meaningful progress in life.
  • Stay True To Yourself:Surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are now whilst encouraging growth.
  • Set Healthy Boundaries:Learn how to say ‘no’ sometimes – don’t overextend yourself beyond your own limits.

These practices allow space for development while still keeping focus on where you want your journey in life to go.


What is the perfect version of oneself?

The ideal self is an aspirational version of oneself, characterized by ambitions, objectives and dreams. It is an individual’s conceptualization of how they would like to be, comprising both their hopes and desires for the future. As opposed to the real self which reflects one’s true character as observed by others, the ideal self remains a reflection of how we would prefer to be.

What is the distinction between an ideal and actual self?

The ideal self refers to an individual’s desired aspirations, dreams, and objectives. It represents what a person would like to be and how they want to be perceived by others. The real self, on the other hand, encompasses the qualities and attributes that actually exist in the present moment. It is the authentic reflection of who one truly is and how they are viewed by those around them. While both are important parts of identity, it is important to remember that an individual’s ideal self may not always match their actual self.

What is the meaning of being one’s true self?

People’s identity is visible to the outside world through their actions, displaying their true self. This encompasses a person’s guiding principles, their characteristics and traits which shape how they interact with the world around them. In contrast to what an individual wishes for themselves, the real personality radiates outward in everything they do.

What is the distinction between one’s actual identity and desired identity?

The difference between the real self and ideal self is essentially the difference between what we are and what we would like to be. The real self is our actual, tangible identity – our thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and perspectives. The ideal self, on the other hand, is how we envision ourselves in our most optimal state; our expectations, dreams, hopes, and aspirations.

What is the distinction between Carl Rogers’ real and ideal selves?

The real self refers to the part of a person which is visible and tangible to others. It is composed of physical and psychological characteristics that are shaped by life experiences, values, and beliefs. On the other hand, the ideal self is an individual’s perceived view of what they would like or hope to become: their dreams and aspirations. Carl Rogers believed that in order for an individual to be truly content, both the real and ideal selves must be balanced.


The real self and the ideal self are two important aspects of a person’s identity that exist in all of us. Understanding the difference between the two can help us assess where we’re at in our lives and make changes to become the best version of ourselves. By accepting both our real self and our ideal self, we can work towards bridging the gap between them and creating a more fulfilling life.

Through the process of understanding these two selves, we can learn more about ourselves and our capabilities. We are able to gain insight into who we truly are and what our potential could be. It is enabling us to uncover our real self and discover our ideal self, so that we can reach for something greater than ourselves.