One of the most amazing things about very young children is their incredible sense of who and what they are. A young child doesn’t worry about what others think of him. They don’t primp and polish for the world around them. They are pure Id to go Freudian with it. Purely concerned with what makes them happy—their own needs and wants. Now, in some ways this would be a bad thing for an adult, but at the same time, sometimes a little Id can be a good thing.
I have found in my life that I’ve spent entirely too much time worrying about what others thought of me and whether they would like me. I’ve spent years trying to make sure I fit into a specific mold that I believed I was expected to fit into, whether or not anyone around me ACTUALLY wanted me to fit one. In many ways, I told my Id that it had no place in my life. Do you know how hard it is to push aside what YOU really want? Boy has it been exhausting.
My focus has been everyone else. I have been the happy, smiling caregiver to the world. Encompassed by a complete desire to make sure that those I care about had whatever they needed, no matter what it took for me to provide it. Here’s what I’ve learned in the past few years—by ignoring my own wants and needs, I wasn’t doing all that good a job of taking care of those around me, no matter how much I was trying to.
Now I’ve begun to pay a bit of attention to what that little voice inside me is asking for. The interesting thing is that I’ve discovered the more I provide for ME the better I am for the rest of the world. In the past year there have been a series of little steps of things that I wanted to do, just because I wanted to. I’ve learned how to swim. I started this Conversation with the world. I’ve renewed my focus on my writing. I even discovered that I actually like wearing light makeup, just because I like it, not because anyone else wanted me to. These are very small things that my little Id friend (I think I shall call her Maggie) has relished in and become happier from me doing. OK, naming a voice in my head may be a little nuts, but what can I say…I’m an eccentric.
Maggie’s happiness seems to have a direct correlation to my impact on the world around me. Those around me have begun to notice that I have a certain “glow” or “look” about me that they can’t quite place their finger on. I don’t have all new clothes or a new hair-do or anything else. What they’re seeing is the difference between FAKING happy and BEING happy. The kind of happiness I seem to have found at this point radiates from within. There’s not much of anything that can stop it from exuding from every pore and touching everyone I know.
Even better, I find that the happier I am, the happier THEY are, the even happier I become. It’s a beautiful cycle! And a little bit addictive. I’ve had down days, that’s for sure. But I find them to be fewer than ever, and lasting shorter and shorter periods of time. It seems that when I’m having a blue day, I reach a point where I realize I don’t like how I’m feeling and want to get back to the happy feelings. I can actually make a conscious decision to change my mood and it works! I have learned to tap into the things that draw my happy back to the surface and have taught myself to focus on them until I feel the way I want to feel. Can I tell you Pandora helps? There is true power in music for me and I find that it can help to steer my moods.
So what is the lesson learned here? According to Dr. Freud, we are all made of three components of our psyche: Id, Ego and Super-Ego. The Id is our base needs and desires, the Ego is our realistic voice, the Super-Ego is our self-critic. The Id and the Super-Ego, left to their own devices, can make us miserable. (My Super-Ego is named Delores and We don’t like her most days.) The Ego is a good balancing device, but without the other two can become equally detrimental. Only by learning to embrace the diversity of our internal consciousness can we be the best possible person both for the world around us AND for ourselves.
Bottom line: We only get one shot at life…it’s probably a good idea to live it being true to ourselves.