The ideal/belief/reality conflict begins with an unwanted belief someone has, such as, “I’m a loser.” This belief is so unacceptable that the person automatically generates an ideal. The ideal is the opposite of the belief. “I’m a winner.” The purpose of the ideal is to argue against the real belief and hide it from view. There are only two ways to try to live up to the ideal, evidence and affirmation. Evidence is the list of real world accomplishments that argue against the ideal; “How can you be a loser if you keep winning all these awards?” Even as the list gets longer, the structure points back to the unwanted belief, “Who but a person who thinks she is a loser must prove she isn’t?”
The other strategy is to affirm the ideal: “I am a winner, I am a winner, etc.” So, over time, the unwanted belief is reinforced by the affirmation because the only reason to declare the ideal is to argue against the belief.
In reality, there is no way to definitively define a human being; good, bad, or indifferent. Self-beliefs are not like knowing you live in Omaha because you do. And, since there is no possible basis in fact, self-belief is only what it is, something you happen to believe, whether it is a wanted or unwanted opinion.
So, here is the most successful rock star in years just before another example of her brilliant success, crying her eyes out. Self-honesty comes with the territory of being an artist. For most people in this structure, they can hide their unwanted beliefs from themselves for long stretches, only once in a while seeing it rear its ugly head. But an artist, any artist, rich or poor, successful or not, has to delve deeply into the truth of themselves. It takes the deepest truth there is. You have to dig down right to the core of yourself, and see it all. All the evil and all the good and everything in between. Everything exposed. No place to hide. No place to try to make yourself look good. You can’t hold on to anything - dignity, self-respect, faith. Those things are all an illusion in light of what you find. It takes a certain strength, maybe even courage, or you can’t get to something in art that nothing else can reach, something real.
As I have said before, hasn’t the self-esteem gang ever read a biography of the most accomplished people? If they had, they would be forced to reject their own doctrine. And so, Lady Gaga, with her unwanted belief in tact, went on stage to a sold out crowd and blew their socks off, because, at the end of the day, what you think about yourself doesn’t matter a bit in the creative process. Not one bit.
- The Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life by Robert Fritz
- Real Life by Phil Stutz