Last week’s post focused on the id—the impulsive, pleasure seeking portion of our psyche. We saw that the id is the baby of the family. Its strength is that it can be a lot of fun, and its weakness is that, when left unbridled, it can wreak havoc in our communication with others. We saw that those who function primarily out of their id tend to:
- Share their thoughts and ideas only when it’s fun.
- Make themselves the hero of their stories while ignoring their weaknesses.
- Share private or personal information of others regardless of the damage that it may do, because anything goes so long as it makes for a good story.
- Lambast others in an emotional tirade because it feels good in the moment.
- Rush to publish quickly (because being heard feels good) vs. taking the time to edit and proof their work.
This week, we will dive into some of the strengths and weaknesses of operating primarily out of one’s superego. The superego is often referred to as the conscience. It is the part of our psyche that hones in on morals, ideals, and strives to act in a socially appropriate manner. If we were to compare the superego to a family member, the superego would be the pastor of the family.
A healthy, well balanced superego is most certainly beneficial. Communicators with a balanced superego will:
- Share socially appropriate stories.
- Skillfully weave in positive morals, themes, and character qualities into their message.
- Thoughtfully proof and edit their written works before sharing them with others, and carefully craft their speeches. After all, it’s important to put one’s best foot forward.
- Remain thoughtful and considerate of their audience’s feelings at all times.
A speaker with a well balanced superego will take charge of the room, working to intentionally create an overall enjoyable experience for his guests. This type of speaker will make sure the room’s temperature is set at a comfortable level, come to the presentation well prepared, speak clearly and confidently, and respect the audience’s time by starting and ending the lesson on schedule.
Yes, a communicator operating from a healthy, well-balanced superego is a pleasure to listen to. However, problems arise when the superego is given free reign and takes over. When this happens, the superego becomes a cruel taskmaster for whom things are never good enough. In fact, another work for a speaker with an overbearing superego is “perfectionist”.
Because the superego concerns itself with ideals and with what “should be”, when left unchecked it will try to convince us that things are not good enough.
Communicators with a hyperactive superego may fall into the traps of:
- Sermonizing and making everything about morals, values, and ideals to the detriment of ignoring fun, humor, and real life examples—all of which are also very important.
- Become unnecessarily harsh, critical, and judgmental of others.
- May never get around to publishing and shipping their written works because in their mind, nothing is ever quite finished, nor good enough.
Those with an overly developed superego may become highly anxious before speaking. Their focus will not be on serving their audience, but on trying to live up to their own internalized standards. There will always be the overarching fear of not being good enough.
One way those of us with an overbearing superego can begin operating out of a place of health is to intentionally take our focus off of ourselves. When writing or giving a speech, it can be easy to minimize what we have to contribute. I know this because it is something that I, personally, can be guilty of. I occasionally find myself thinking, “Everyone already knows this, and what I’m sharing is really not new or original”. I find that I have to continually remind myself that although what I’m sharing may not be new to me, many will find it interesting because they have not heard it before. I’m a professor, and after teaching a class five or six times, the excitement of the material wears off. Yet, my student’s eyes still light up when the information is presented.
I also have to remind myself that in addition to teaching the course material, I am also sharing bits and pieces of myself with the students. And this is perhaps the most important part. Yes, most of the information that you and I share can easily be found in other places on the internet. Our world is filled with information. However, good communicators don’t just dump content. They weave their character and personality throughout their message. If you find that an overdeveloped superego is holding you back from sharing your message with others, you may want to remind yourself that you are unique and because of this your message is one of a kind. You really do have something important to share with the world!
As you can see, our superego can be valuable when balanced, and a cruel taskmaster when left unbridled. Next week we will conclude this series by looking at the ego. We’ll discover how this vital portion of our psyche can help us balance out the other two and help us further develop a healthy, engaging, and meaningful communication style.
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