Excerpt About Idealization

The Need to Understand the Issue of Idealization

Student: Yesterday you talked about how some people idealize autonomy. what is the relationship between autonomy and the true self? How can the idealization of autonomy keep you from seeing your true self?
Almaas: The quality of autonomy might be used to substitute for the true self, to compensate for its absence. But it’s the issue of idealization that needs to be understood and not the autonomy itself. If a person is not his true self, he needs an idealized self. A person who never attained autonomy would always think he was a failure. Another person might achieve his idealization and then be disappointed to discover that it didn’t do what he thought it would do. People can either respond with despair and depression, or they use the occasion to try to explore why it didn’t give them what they wanted. People who can question in a very genuine way in such a situation can arrive at the true self. The person who achieves his idealization may have a better chance at finding his real self if he doesn’t despair, but actually learns true hopelessness. If he doesn’t reach his idealization, he may still find the true self, but it may be difficult for him to believe that that’s what he needs. If the idealization doesn’t break down, it is possible to experience the true self, but not value and appreciate it. The idealization must be exposed. Sometimes it has to be seen by working on yourself, rather than through the life situation. You can uncover beliefs and hopes and dreams by working on yourself, rather than having to act them out in life.

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