The founding father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, wrote an essay in the 1920s where he hypothesized that the human personality can be divided into three separate but interconnected facets; the id, the ego, and the super-ego. Each has it’s part to play in making you who you are, and it’s quite fascinating to read how he set it out!
The first part of our personality is the id. This is the one we are born with and it’s the most primitive part of who you are. It’s the part that works to fulfill your basic needs, your wants, and your desires and always seeks instant gratification. The id cares not about how realistic or appropriate the demands are; the id demands that the need be satisfied as quickly as possible. The id thus functions according to the pleasure principal and is a primary process.
The second is the ego, this part, according to Sigmund Freud’s hypothesis, starts to develop at around the age of 3. The ego is a secondary process that functions according to the reality principal; it strives to meet the needs of the id in realistic and socially acceptable ways. We are concious of the ego, and this is probably why it’s the one we most regularly reference.
The third is the super-ego, which is home to your morals, ideals, and conscience. It’s the judgemental voice always pointing out what’s right and what’s wrong. We start developing the super-ego at about age 5.
All three of these work together to form our personality, but it’s the ego that is constantly at work trying to balance out the primal demand of the id and the highly moral demands of the super-ego. When the ego is not the strongest of the three it results in an unbalanced personality. But what does all this mean for you and why should you care?
Well, if you can’t be King of the Hill when it comes to managing your primal urges or your judgements, how will you be able to push yourself to new hights as far as self-improvement is concerned? You can’t improve on what you are not in control of or aware of. For most part the process of self-improvement or -development starts with small changes in your thinking and your actions or habits. Knowing yourself (ego and it’s strength) is how you start to identify what needs to change.
Take a few days to pay attention to your inner dialogue, and note all the times you find yourself making judgements on what’s right and what’s wrong. Note each time you label yourself as good at or bad at something, or set a limitation on your abilities based on some belief that you have.
You will probably find an exhaustive list of things you believe yourself to be incapable of, and an even longer list of urges you submit to. What powerful insights could this give you on your journey? Like a to do list of things to improve on!