I’ve been thinking about how influential our superego (aka conscience, aka inner critic) is in terms of creating our reality. It determines how we feel, what we think and how we behave.
As our conscience, it is our guide to right and wrong. It is a representation of our moral code. In the Western world we are conditioned to internalise these moral ideals of right and wrong thinking, feeling and behaviour as objective truisms rather than subjective opinions (which is what they are).
These morals are the morals of the outer world, designed to keep us ‘in our place’, ie compliant. Our conscience directs us to do what’s ‘right’ in the external world rather than what is in the best interests of our happiness and well-being.
This is what our superego is, though: an artefact of mind conditioning. It is not real and what it tells us is not real.
Yet we are in thrall to it. Hypnotised. Possessed. We believe what it tells us and we follow its directions, even when it compels us to act against the interests of having our personal needs met.
Usually our conscience / superego / inner critic tells us some pretty negative stuff. That’s because we’ve been conditioned to be self-deprecating.
I’ve been thinking about how the superego is like God. Psychologists and religious people describe the qualities of each so similarly that I think the two terms are interchangeable.
Let’s consider two types that we’ll call ‘A’ and ‘B’.
A is a harsh judge who rules by fear and punishes trangressions. A’s love is conditional and rationed. A only forgives when penenace and/or vengence have been exacted. A thinks corporal punishment is good and righteous. A cares nothing for the happiness of the individual (indeed, it may desire misery as punishment for trangressions committed but gone undetected); A cares only for correct behaviour and demands that its charges conform to its agenda. A does not delight in interacting with its charges; A thinks parenting / managing is relentless vigilance to catch out the wrong-doing (which is a certainty) that its evasive charges have hidden. A uses fear as a means of control. A is a dictator. A cannot be trusted to help or comfort anyone in trouble but will say: “You brought this on yourself and your suffering is your just desserts.”A is cruel. A enslaves its charges in order to control them, believing it has a right to do so, and has a right to expect its charges to do its bidding, and that its charges have no right to their own freedom.
B is forgiving, loving (unconditionally and abundantly), nurturing, protective, takes delight in interacting with its charges, is concerned with its charges’ happiness and well-being even at the risk of social disapproval. B trusts the integrity of its charges. B is a democrat. B is kind and compassionate and will help those in need. B allows its charges freedom to be themselves and explore the world.
Many people describe God as example A. Ditto example B.
Many (most?) have a superego / conscience / inner critic that sounds like example A.
So I was thinking: if we have ascertained that our superego leans more toward the A variety than the B variety and we recognise it as an artefact of mind conditioning rather than a representation of an objective reality, can we do something about it?
We can reimagine it, rearrange its framework, reinvent it.
If we like the sound of version B, we can use creative visualisation to transform the cruel, unloving dictator into a loving democrat / friend / parent.
I have described elsewhere about my perception of the ego as a politician (see Off with her head!), often forced by circumstance to act as slimey as the slimiest politician. I think this happens when the superego’s agenda is at odds with the id’s needs. It seems to me that if our superego is of the loving sort there will be less estrangement between the superego and the id, and less of a power struggle for domination between the two, and the ego would not have to employ the underhand, dishonest tactics it’s often forced into. The ego, as the emissary of the organism, would be more effective in its interactions with the extrenal world in achieving the aims of its internal world. Internal peace is more likely than internal war.
So, I am working on creating a model, or a God archetype, of loving protection to guide me in my thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Yes, it’s a figment of my imagination, but what, of all the contents of our minds – pray tell – is not?