Because you and I live in a fear-based society, we are constantly presented with all sorts of negatives that pull us out of the now. Constantly looking backward fondly to a past that never truly existed and getting depressed about its passing; at the same time, looking forward anxiously towards potential futures that could be thoroughly unpleasant.
As Lao Tzu said,
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
Is it any wonder that peace is so hard to come by? I am not talking about planetary peace between nations and cultures, I mean individual peace. Your ability and my ability to feel peaceful, to be calm, to be present in the now. Fear, wielded like a weapon by so many, is constantly pulling you and me from the present, and as a result, from attaining peace.
One of the backlashes that come of this is figuring out your identity. The answer to the question of “Who are you?” may have a superficial answer, but the full and complete answer is probably much more complex. Maybe that’s not the case for you, but this is totally true for me.
I have literally three identities. One is the me who goes about doing everyday chores and activities and has been who I am my entire life. Another is the me who exists in the medieval reenactment society, and has for more than half my life. The third is my professional identity as a writer.
All three variants of me are one when all is said and done. Yet in many respects, each brings out a slightly different version of my true self in greater clarity. As such, this sometimes creates something of an identity crisis.
One personality and the Id, Ego, and Superego
You may or may not be familiar with Sigmund Freud, and his study of the human psyche. One of the key contributions to psychology made by Freud was the idea of the Id, Ego, and Superego.
To sum up: The Id is the instinctual, animal aspect of your self. The Id is impulsive, operated on the pleasure principle, and tends to act without much thought to consequences. In other words, the Id is the happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care, spontaneous aspect of who you are. The Id is the libido, the partier, the base-instinct.
The Superego is your moral code, your ultimate conscience and impulse control. The Superego is the ideal you, the best aspects of who you are and who you can be.
The Ego is the middle ground between Id and Superego. In other words, the Ego is YOU, right here and now. The Ego is the you that is presented to the world and can take aspects of Id and Superego and apply them to real-life thoughts, feelings, and actions. The Ego tempers the Id while looking to Superego for guidance and direction.
Freud adds this insight about the Ego:
“The ego is ‘that part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world.’”
When it comes to myself, I can easily place my three identities into Id, Ego, and Superego. The medieval reenactment version of me is the Id. The everyday me is the Ego. The professional writer is the Superego.
This is an imperfect analogy. I am always me, and in all three guises, there is Id, Ego, and Superego. But the dominance of one in each self-identity is still quite apparent to me.
Recognizing all of my identity
When I joined the medieval reenactment society over 27 years ago, I was much more introverted, and though I had a lot of experience with acting and singing publicly, felt shy. At parties, for example, if I didn’t know anyone I tended to kind of slink to a corner and observe but seldom engage.
The other people in this medieval society are, for the most part, geeks, nerds, and dweebs like me. Ergo, I found my tribe. In so doing, I was drawn ever-further out of my shell. I learned to be a better leader, I learned how to flirt, and gained a lot of confidence through this group. Because it brought out the more open and impulsive me, I identify this aspect of myself with the Id.
When I determined the name I use as a professional writer it created an identity. I often joke I can tell who knows me on what level depending on which of the three names I employ gets used. Whether writing fiction; journalism; professional writing work; or articles and blogs about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, and positivity, the professional writer is my most idealized self-identity.
Writing has always brought out the best in who I can be, no matter what form it takes. Hence identifying this aspect of myself with the Superego.
The me who has always been is not who I always was. Like everything in the Universe, I have changed. This is not just a matter of physical changes and aging, but conscious choices to strive to be the best me that I can be. I am, like you are, ultimately, the Ego.
Years ago there was a wider divide and greater struggle between these aspects of me. Though it has changed, there can still be a struggle between these elements.
Being the best me that I can be
I used to use the medieval reenactment society as an escape from the real me. For a time it was, in my opinion, the best aspect of my identity. This version of me, I thought, was the most genuine me.
The Id likes you to think that sort of thing. In truth, though, you cannot be utterly impetuous and impulsive and navigate the real world without a whole lot of problems.
My professional writer identity is the most ideal me. As I practice mindfulness, conscious reality creation, and positivity in what I write, however, sometimes it doesn’t find its way to the Ego, the everyday me.
Why is this important? Because if I better integrated the Superego, professional writer me, I would have fewer internal struggles. My fears of success, failure, and ultimately abandonment get addressed by the professional writer me constantly; yet everyday me still gets anxious about saying the right thing, paying my bills, and general interactions with the people in my life.
When all is said and done there is only one me. Sure, I may identify myself by three names and three variations of my self, but each is just a part of the whole me. All three identities are largely the same; they just emphasize one of the Freudian elements more heavily than the others.
I AM my Id, Ego, and Superego. All the best and all the worst of these three elements make up my whole person. Ultimately, there is only one identity, because there is only one of me inside my own head. Working with this paramount truth, I can best combine the three aspects of myself to be the truest, best me that I can be.
You can do this, too
You may or may not have similar struggles with your identity, or you may (in all probability) have your own issues. The takeaway I want to share is this: You are capable of practicing mindfulness to be better aware of your thoughts and feelings. That awareness brings you into the now, and in the now you have the best view of your identity.
If you do struggle with your identity, no matter what form that takes, know that you are not alone. I may not know you, but I do know that you are worthy and deserving of being the best you that you can be. How do I know that? Because the Universe is abundant, and you having good things doesn’t deny them from anyone else. You don’t need to be a member of a specific group or class or other such ideology to be the best you that you can be.
Don’t let our fear-based society keep you from getting to know your self. Work on being mindful and present, and if who you are is not who you most desire to be, use your self-awareness to make changes that get you where you want to go.
I believe in you, and that you are empowered to identify yourself as the best you possible.
How do you handle any struggles with your identity?
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done, you matter, and you can identify yourself in any way you choose.