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The Trap of Idealization

Are you trapped in ideals?

The other day I listened to a talk about a trap we so easily fall into; idealization.

Do you also make the mistake of having set ideals of how you want your life to be? Like: When you find the perfect job, those clothes that bring out your unique beauty, when you meet the right partner… then you will be happy.

In our hearts we know that this simply isn’t true.

So where do these negative patterns come from? We live in a culture that splits things into good and bad. When so called positive attributes are exaggerated we call it idealization. The problem is polarization. When we elevate one thing as an ideal, the opposite pole is devalued and labeled negative.

During childhood and adolescence this tendency is normal. But as we mature we become more capable of embracing the complexity of life, understanding that nothing is all good or all bad. We begin to see things from a more holistic perspective.

Fashion trends are all about idealization.

The merry-go-round of fashion is actually built on this concept. How often haven’t we heard the question: What is in and what is out? Media feed us with images of "that perfect outfit". We idealize a young body and specific styles (that are a translation of certain behaviors to colors and form). Fashion is really a way of manipulating people.

We fall into the trap of chasing the dream of looking fabulous, thinking it will make us happier. If we have ideals, and cannot live up to them, we might feel devalued.

We identify with one or the other. We are approved. Or we are inadequate.

Clothes are something we need. We depend on the practical functions they provide. We also need the joy and the pleasure, visual as well as sensual, that beautiful, well-made clothes can give us. What we don’t need are all the rules and regulations of what looks good or not.

So why are we stuck in this trap of idealization and devaluation? Could it be because it’s part of a hierarchic and patriarchal mindset, so ingrained in the paradigm that’s on the verge of collapsing? If so, the solution is clear: once we see these negative patterns clearly, we can also break them.

True happiness cannot be found in what comes and goes.

Our own internal wars lie at the core of idealization. Liberating ourselves from these is necessary if we want to wake up to our true nature. Stepping beyond the boundaries of fixed habits is a challenge that usually brings out fear.

But do we really have a choice? Staying inside a safe world of ideals shrinks our lives. The trick is to not follow any set concept of how things should look or be. It’s only when we let go of ideals that we are free to explore what is. To explore what beauty really is when it’s not confined by certain standards.

It actually works the other way around.

There is a difference between ideals and visions. A vision is more of a feeling state that is not set in a specific form. When we can evoke a feeling of gratitude, happiness and contentment right here and now, regardless of what is (as if what we long for is already here) and keep doing this as often as we can, things begin to change around us!

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