Adopt an Old School Ego

Sigmund Freud coined the term “Ego” almost a century ago to describe a healthier state of being. He envisioned Ego as the balancing point between our animal urges (termed “ID”) and our perfectionist impulses and/or blind allegiances (“Superego”). Freud believed well-being was achieved by turning an intentional eye toward Ego as a way to balance our unhealthy ID/Superego extremes.

Ego Gets a Bad Rap

Today, we’ve run amok with Freud’s original intent: We deem Ego a state of Being where judgment and self-righteousness trump the healthy consideration of others – an impulsive mindset obsessed with posturing, proving, and score-keeping.

This was never Freud’s vision – he developed Ego as a tool to help his patients manage their lives through the development of a self-center. Ironically, Ego’s modern usage more closely describes the self-involved extremes of Freud’s spectrum – the Superego and ID.


Over the years, people have knocked on my clinical door after achieving material success. These individuals have worked extremely hard to reach the top of popularity’s ladder. They have pursued personal happiness by striving for a family, community, cultural, or even the world endorsement.

Their longtime need to matter to others (as a way to matter to themselves) has created external emotional dependency. Despite being admired and awarded, these do-gooders are often bewildered and miserable, having lost their true sense of self in their pursuit of the ideal.

The ID

Avoiding responsibility at all costs is a characteristic of an ID heavy personality. These adult-children are justified in their failures because they deem themselves, victims of circumstance – their qualities misunderstood by others, or their entitlements unfairly stripped away by society.

Closer to reality, their misbehavior is a defense: these individuals run from success because they fear failure. When life feels like a constant test, it seems far easier to justify a lack of effort than to actually show up and give it your all. What develops is an extreme lack of caring – for others, for societal norms, and for themselves.

Stop the Madness, Adopt an Ego

Setting ourselves apart through achievement or failure puts our happiness out of reach. Emotional security is an internal process. In order to emotionally thrive, we must use our internal compasses, our self-centers – our Old School Egos – to regain balance.

Exercise your Ego

Adopt the perspective that your worth is never in question: Attend to your daily activities, not with a proving or defending attitude, but with a sense of presence.

Good, bad, happy, and sad moments occur for all of us – Consciously choose to manage life’s ebb and flow as Freud originally intended – through the balance found in a healthy Ego.