Does it ever feel like there’s a little voice on your shoulder telling you “don’t say this” or “don’t do that”?
A gentle whisper in your ear, stopping you from making rash and impulsive decisions you’ll regret later.
Don’t worry – you’re not going insane!
That’s just your superego calling in to say “hi.”
According to Freud, the human psyche consists of three aspects: the id, ego, and superego. The id represents raw instinct and pleasure, the ego deals with reality and reasoning…
And the superego?
Well, that’s your moral compass – the thing that helps you distinguish right from wrong.
You know, that feeling in the pit of your stomach that lets you know your behavior is verging on unethical or immoral.
It’s like your own personal Jiminy Cricket reminding you about the consequences of your actions.
So, how do you determine your id and ego from your superego?
Well, here are seven things your superego is quietly telling you every day.
1) Don’t eat the last slice of cake
The id is all about giving in to your primal urges. Screw the consequences!
And when it comes to decision-making, other people don’t get a look in. It’s all “me, me, me,” and then some. There’s no logic, morality, or compromise involved.
In contrast, your superego says “no” to instant gratification and “yes” to the bigger picture.
It forces you to flex your willpower by exercising self-control and discipline – no matter how enticing that cake looks.
So the next time you resist temptation or decide to not over-indulge, you can thank your morals and highly attuned sense of ethics.
AKA your superego!
2) A little kindness goes a long way
When we’re young, we’re taught to be kind to others. It’s a lesson instilled by our parents and something we learn from interacting with those around us.
I’m talking about compassion, empathy, and general good manners.
Whenever you find yourself in a social setting, your superego is the one quietly telling you to “be a good human” and “be nice” (even when it’s not deserved).
Let me put it this way.
Kindness is a virtue, and taking the time to be understanding and sympathetic to other people’s feelings creates a ripple effect.
It not only benefits others – but you too. For instance, enhancing relationships and fostering positive interactions.
After all, the world could always do with a little more kindness.
3) Honesty is the best policy
Hands up if you watched Pinocchio as a kid. I know I did.
Of course, there are many things that he did wrong. But the one thing he’s most known for is lying.
Now – I’m not saying your nose will grow longer (or sprout leaves) every time you lie or cheat, you’re not a child anymore. And you’re certainly not a puppet made of wood.
But, if you feel guilty or anxious after lying, that’s your superego, again.
And it’s keeping you in check by forcing you to see things through a moral lens.
4) Say “sorry” when you’re wrong
Nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes or do stuff that we regret. At the end of the day, we’re only human.
But here’s the thing.
It’s important that we take accountability for our actions and that includes apologizing when we’re wrong. That’s exactly what your superego is telling you to do – say “sorry” and admit the error of your ways.
It takes strength, but it’s the socially responsible thing to do.
If you don’t, your superego is there to make you feel guilty until you do the right thing.
Plus, apologizing has numerous benefits including boosting happiness, reducing stress, and building trust. Not to mention helping resolve conflict and mend relationships.
5) There’s always more to learn
They say that the superego begins to emerge when we’re around five years old. It’s the last of the three to develop (the id being the first, followed by the ego).
But it doesn’t stop there.
We’re constantly learning, adapting, and evolving well into adulthood. And that’s partly due to your superego.
Think about it.
Your superego is pushing you to be the best version of yourself. To do that, you need self-improvement and a growth mindset.
And by continuously gaining new skills, knowledge, and understanding, you’ll be better equipped to achieve your personal and professional goals.
Ultimately, your superego motivates you to do better and be better.
It gives you purpose and the drive to unlock your full potential and attain clarity along the way.
And it’s that pursuit of perfection that fuels your work ethic.
6) Stop procrastinating
… and don’t be late!
Along with imposing morality and sticking to social norms, the superego is behind your desire for perfection.
Sounds impossible, I know.
Here’s a moral dilemma for you (that’s probably relatable):
You have a big deadline looming over your head. But it’s also your friend’s birthday coming up, and then there’s that big party at the weekend.
Not only that, but you’re overthinking again.
Your id is telling you to follow your impulses – ditch your work, go party, and have fun. There’s always tomorrow.
Your ego, on the other hand, is trying to reason with you by reminding you about the reality of the situation.
Then there’s your superego.
And that’s when your morality comes into play – your need for perfection, social acceptance, and doing “the right thing.”
7) Don’t break the rules (or the law)
A big part of the superego is fear of punishment.
So when it comes to adhering to society’s laws and regulations, it’s there to remind you that those rules are there for a reason.
And if you break them, there will be consequences.
The aim of the superego is to ingrain the virtues and moral standards that society (and your parents) expect from you.
All in aid of fitting in, gaining social approval, and the greater good.
In other words…
Every single day, your superego is quietly helping you stay on track.