On 24th of April 1923, Dr. Sigmund Freud had published one of his most influential works, called “The Ego and the Id,” in which he explored the unfettered areas of the human mind with the help of a structural model of the human psyche. This profound study has laid the foundation for modern psychology.
In this study, Freud posited that the human psyche is divided into Id, Ego, and Superego. So, let us have a detailed look at them.
Id: Id represents the instinctive and primitive aspect of human behavior. It encompasses the entire unconscious and impulsive side of the human mind. Id stands at the center of social psychology as is the source of the raw psychic energy.
Superego: Superego represents the ethics and morals that are instilled by the society in which one derives from parents and educators. The superego controls the raw Id impulses such as sex, aggression, and other extreme instincts.
Ego: The ego controls the Id on the primary impulses that are modified by the direct influence of the external world. It acts as the mediating bridge between the raw and impulsive id and the real external world. The pleasure principle fuels Id, whereas Ego functions based on the reality principle. So, the primary purpose of the ego is to satisfy the id desires in the most socially and realistically appropriate manner.
It has often been seen in a negative light; however, we must understand that if we don’t have an ego, our mental health will deteriorate as it serves as a bridge between the unconscious and the conscious.
So, first, let us look at how ego can harm us.
Deception of the Illusory Self:
Ego is undoubtedly the most integral part of our personality as it controls our thought patterns and decides how we behave. However, an unhealthy ego can deceive us by exaggerating our good and bad characteristics. It creates an imaginary version of ourselves under the guise of thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
This is how we fall prey to our ego. And once a firm belief is set on our ego, the lines that differentiate our real and imaginary selves are blurred.
Then, we end up going to all heights to keep that illusion alive. People can be driven to cheat, lie, steal, and even kill to protect their ego when they feel their ‘identity’ is at risk.
Although it can serve as a confidence booster and give us a sense of purpose, it eventually only increases the imbalance of the self. We continue to compare ourselves with others and get mixed up with self-doubts and intense pessimism.
It is essential to get a thorough understanding of an unhealthy ego and see it in the correct perspective. The illusion of self is not limited to the idealized version of ourselves. It goes way deep, triggering intense desire to believe and base our identity on that idealized self.
An unhealthy ego can obscure our perception of ourselves and the external world. However, we can break this delusion and arrive at a much more real self by abandoning the illusion that the ego feeds us.
How to maintain a healthy control over your ego?
The first and most crucial step towards a balanced ego is getting rid of all the fabricated ideas you have about yourself. Most of them can be traced back to your childhood, which leads to forging various aspects of your identity into something foreign.
So, a healthy balance of the ego can be maintained by accepting all the facets of your identity as one entity instead of magnifying a single aspect.
To do this, it is vital to be mindful of ourselves and pay close attention to our thought patterns. With intense and prolonged practice, we learn to observe and understand not to dwell on the pleasant and denounce the unpleasant aspects of the identity.
This part of psychology enters the realm of Buddhist philosophy. A lot of psychologists around the world encourage people to be more mindful and aware of their feelings and thoughts and observe them from a distance.
It is essential to understand that this does not mean that we must get rid of our ego. We need to create a distinction between our identity and the illusory self.
By following the below-mentioned practices, we can break the veil of our idealized self and arrive at who we are.
- Don’t take everything seriously: It is highly imperative to understand thoroughly that we are not the center of the universe. Take everything as it comes and don’t dwell the ideas associated with your illusory self.
- Understand the vastness of your identity: We should not focus on one facet of our personality. It is often by concentrating on this we tend to obscure the perception of ourselves and forge a false identity.
- Be mindful: This is often achieved by meditation. It is only with the help of meditation; we can break our thought patterns and look beyond our idealized selves.
- Differentiate yourself from your image: This will happen once you start acknowledging the wholeness of your identity and accept all the good and bad aspects of your personality.
There is a general misconception that ego is harmful. However, we have seen how ego is not at all harmful, but it is highly essential to maintain balanced mental health. The real enemy is the idealized illusory self that we derive from our ego.
Hence, it is imperative to oversee your mind and start reflecting on your thoughts and feelings and identify those that are not associated with them. This is how we can make use of our ego to understand our true selves.
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