Quote Originally Posted by colmena View Post
INFPs often have the acute awareness of virtuous human potential. They're so inclined towards and covetous of this eudaimonian ideal that they will suffer developmental hypermetropia. The nobility of strengthening a moral compass is undermined by the aversion to instrumental values. They're blinded by the light.

So what is an ideal: Our past's positive projection? They ostensibly come from ourselves, or we wouldn't be able to discern one's ideals from another's. So there is a silver lining in an ideal's intrinsic projection. They are born of your mind, and from whatever it is that makes us who we are: from the balance of hormones bestowed upon us in the womb, to each new experience undergone.

So it is important to come to terms -- or even embrace -- the fact that our experiences will affect personality, and in turn, our ideals. It is paramount to not be disheartened by their temporal nature, but to consider them accumulative, growing, and organic; as are we. So discard the longsighted self-doubt, and begin to consider, and then assign yourself, the instrumental values required to reach each new ideal. This adaptive mindset should also help embracing environment, relationships, as well as the present moment.
That's a very beautiful way to put everything, and you're right I believe, about the importance of coming to terms or embracing it all in a sense.

It's interesting to me though how different the experience of this disparity I described between my existing 'real' self and my 'idealized' self is for other people. Everyone must experience it to some degree, small or greater, but why some people are more aware of it or less aware of it seems to be explained by what we are born with.

I've happened upon reading about Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Integration just now and it seems to describe perfectly all that I was initially questioning.

From Kazimierz Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration

Four seminal quotes set the stage:

1). "Personality: A self-aware, self-chosen, self-affirmed, and self-determined unity of essential individual psychic qualities. Personality as defined here appears at the level of secondary integration" (Dabrowski, 1972, p. 301).

2). "The propensity for changing one's internal environment and the ability to influence positively the external environment indicate the capacity of the individual to develop. Almost as a rule, these factors are related to increased mental excitability, depressions, dissatisfaction with oneself, feelings of inferiority and guilt, states of anxiety, inhibitions, and ambivalences - all symptoms which the psychiatrist tends to label psychoneurotic. Given a definition of mental health as the development of the personality, we can say that all individuals who present active development in the direction of a higher level of personality (including most psychoneurotic patients) are mentally healthy" (Dabrowski, 1964, p. 112).

3). "Intense psychoneurotic processes are especially characteristic of accelerated development in its course towards the formation of personality. According to our theory accelerated psychic development is actually impossible without transition through processes of nervousness and psychoneuroses, without external and internal conflicts, without maladjustment to actual conditions in order to achieve adjustment to a higher level of values (to what 'ought to be'), and without conflicts with lower level realities as a result of spontaneous or deliberate choice to strengthen the bond with reality of higher level" (Dabrowski, 1972, p. 220).

4). "Psychoneuroses 'especially those of a higher level' provide an opportunity to 'take one's life in one's own hands'. They are expressive of a drive for psychic autonomy, especially moral autonomy, through transformation of a more or less primitively integrated structure. This is a process in which the individual himself becomes an active agent in his disintegration, and even breakdown. Thus the person finds a 'cure' for himself, not in the sense of a rehabilitation but rather in the sense of reaching a higher level than the one at which he was prior to disintegration. This occurs through a process of an education of oneself and of an inner psychic transformation. One of the main mechanisms of this process is a continual sense of looking into oneself as if from outside, followed by a conscious affirmation or negation of conditions and values in both the internal and external environments. Through the constant creation of himself, though the development of the inner psychic milieu and development of discriminating power with respect to both the inner and outer milieus - an individual goes through ever higher levels of 'neuroses' and at the same time through ever higher levels of universal development of his personality" (Dabrowski, 1972, p. 4).

Most people become socialized in their early family and school experiences. They largely accept the values and mores of society with little question and have no internal conflict in abiding by the basic tenents of society. In some cases, a person begins to notice and to imagine 'higher possibilities' in life. These disparities are driven by overexcitability -- an intense reaction to, and experience of the day-to-day stimuli of life. Eventually, one's perception of reality becomes differentiated into a hierarchy and all aspects of both external and internal life come to be evaluated on a vertical continuum of 'lower versus higher.' This experience often creates a series of deep and painful conflicts between lower, 'habitual' perceptions and reactions based on one's heredity and environment (socialization) and higher, volitional 'possibilities.' In the developing individual, these conflicts may lead to disintegrations and psychoneuroses, for Dabrowski, hallmarks of advanced growth. Eventually, through the processes of advanced development and positive disintegration, one is able to develop control over one's reactions and actions. Eventually, development culminates in the inhibition and extinction of lower levels of reality and behavior and their transcendence via the creation of a higher, autonomous and stable ideal self. The rote acceptance of social values yields to a critically examined and chosen hierarchy of values and aims that becomes a unique expression of the self -- becoming one's personality ideal.
This may sound awkward, but wow, what a dream to eventually 'transcend' into the ideal self.