N’s comment to yesterday’s post made me look a little closer at how children take adults’ behaviours and opinions on board and shape them into their superego. It’s a term Sigmund Freud coined for the critical, judging, advising, threatening, moralising, and punishing function of our psyche that tells us what’s right and wrong, good and bad. This telling is not based on the reality of our adult life, but on the conditioning experiences within family and society when we were young.
As part of the individuation process, a term associated with the work of C.G. Jung, we become our own person, our true Self. In some instances this occurs over time and without special effort; in others it may never occur unless certain (often dramatic) circumstances cause the adult to examine the veracity of the inner voices.
In yesterday’s post I described how such an examination began with a simple observation (“I’m afraid…”) and lead, through prompting by a caring listener, to an experience of transcendence. I can now face the future armed with a growing arsenal of self-appropriated wisdom. Baby steps!
A.H. Almaas views the superego as a multi-faceted form of aggression by ourselves towards ourselves:
The superego is one way that aggression towards ourselves manifests, and it becomes a big obstacle to finding where we are … it is a major barrier to being ourselves, to being real. Being real might mean experiencing yourself as immense and powerful, but your superego might think that’s unacceptable. It warns you, ‘You’re going to be too much for people. They won’t want to be with you. They will abandon you or judge you as too loud or too aggressive.’ So we have all these judgements, and we feel humiliated, ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, worthless, deficient (p.65).
Basically, the superego is trying to make you feel one thing and not another: ‘This is acceptable; that is not acceptable. This is okay; that is not okay’ (p.68).
print source: Almaas, A.H. (2008). The unfolding now: realizing your true nature through the practice of presence. Boston: Shambhala Publications. images: eatourbrains.com (top); hopeandhealing.org.