The Id, Ego, and Superego (My Friends)

“The mind is like an iceberg; it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water.”

Picture this: a painstaking decision is at hand. Do I kill this troll with kindness, or would a weapon better suffice? On your left shoulder, a little devil, red like Louboutin bottoms, hops up and down in excitement.

“Do it!” he urges, “What can I say? Karma’s a savage.”

On your right, an angel shimmers whiter than bleached sheets with a floating halo reminiscent of an iced doughnut. It warms your heart in the same way.

It says, “Love thy neighbour as thy

“You’re in love with yourself, aren’t you?” Mr. Devil. “You might as well quote the Confederate Constitution if in the mood of reciting fossilized declarations.”

The real struggle of so many of the internal battles we face, I’ve begun to realize, lies not in the issue at hand, but in how we interact with ourselves. This finding has rooting and relevance in every aspect of our lives, whether that be our mental wellbeing, how we feel in new or unfamiliar circumstances, or simply what we see when we look in the mirror. If we want to talk psychology, (and we want to talk psychology,) our minds are made up of three distinct parts: the id, the ego, and the superego. And while I’m not the person and this isn’t the place for an in-depth psychoanalysis class, in terms of how you interact with yourself, these ‘characters’ are most significant.

It’s the classic ‘heart vs. head’ conflict. The, ‘do I go with the feeling or the reasoning?’

Let’s meet them.

the Id: This is the glamorous, Louboutin-bottomed, horned metaphorical devil we just introduced (and in all of its glamour, it may as well have paraded down a matching red carpet.) The Id is the animalistic impulses and urges we hold within us from birth, the unhealthy cravings and the rash responses. The id is completely subconscious.

the Ego: Mr. Ego is much more than a bomb Beyoncé song. The ego deals with reality and the real world. He’s the man in the middle, the mediator, the rational thinker. Also, Mr. Ego can be shaped by the environment. He brings about the actions.

the Superego: Takes a bite of her donut. Floats, I wish I could say quietly, behind your shoulder, her wings flapping noisily. Loves to love and throws snowballs of guilt your way when you let the id winwhen you prioritize self over the greater good.

Now, these descriptions—whether or not you’ve ever come across these three terms before, and whether or not you’re completely aware of how and when exactly they developin terms of pertaining to you in the present and whatever current struggle you face, is less important.

What is of most crucial importance, at least in my eyes, are the very different modes of thinking (modes of being, almost) each proposes, and how they work together. Like howat least according to Freudian principlesboth morality and animalistic urges can exist in the subconscious. Translation: self-preservation is as natural to us as caring for our loved ones. And, despite the id being set from birth, the influence the world can have on our often fragile egos, and how just as powerfully this can influence our actions.

So what is the point of having introduced all of this? What am I saying? What should you take home from this, haul over your shoulder?

That by looking at these three facets of your character, the solutions to problems, complications, are miles closer:

Often the illogical ‘gut’ reaction can be the best idea—it comes from the subconscious and therefore can often be tied to larger and deeper reasoning that you aren’t fully aware of. The ego and its rationalism and reason can also be important when your innate feelings are less positive, when, without reason you find yourself in a dark place. This part of you can and will pay attention to the world around and come to logical conclusions.

So, for everyday usage, I’ve compiled some simple ways to channel each character of the psyche:

Id—listen to your feelings. Your urges, your cravings. If you’re hungry for that ice cream, eat it! Take time to sit alone with eyes shut, and listen to your heart, your body. Instead of what the world needs of you, note your own needs and the steps you can take to attain them.

Superego—this is where sympathy comes from. Our need to nurture others, to provide. When we fail to do so, or let our impulses overcome, the superego throws guilt our way. In dealing with guilt, what I’ve found is that you are not a single action. Where guilt is found, there is regret, usually meaning that you behaved out of character in some way. Simply feeling remorse is taking accountability, and any repercussions that come from your actions are more than enough to deal with. But to best employ this beautiful part of ourselves, check in with your loved ones. Sending a “hey, how are you?” text takes five seconds, and could be the highlight of someone’s day.

Ego—is anything and everything in between. This is heavily impacted by reality, and is a very conscious part of our dispositions. It finds compromise between the id’s urges and the selfless nature of the superego and is heavily influenced by the environment. My tip on how to best channel the ego? Listen to people. Listen to all people, of all political and social opinions. Whether their ideologies seem to be twins or antagonists to your own, it is important for the sake of ourselves, and our humanity, to never allow ourselves to become one-sided, to never allow our actions be completely attributed to the single philosophy you have allowed yourself to listen to your whole life. Dynamic conversation and debates are what bring about change.

I’m writing this on my sixteenth birthday and am not only amazed, but proud, of the change I’ve seen in myself within a year. The calm I’ve achieved within myself, the self-adoration; I may have finally outgrown birthday ‘depression.' And while I don’t think I would ever go as far as to claim these three parts of my mind to be working together, I’m learning they can work constructively.

So maybe after reading all this, your id is still running laps around your head, and that’s completely cool. But maybe, just maybe, the three musketeers have sat down to listen.

By Simi Fagbemi
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