Sigmund Freud devised a model to explain how people's behaviors can be explained with three principal components:
If someone is overly self-critical, then the Superego > Id/Ego.
If someone is overly hedonistic and pleasure-seeking, then the Id > Superego/Ego.
Freud said that if your ego is the strongest, then that is the most balanced form of our psyche.
People generally have conflicting thoughts. If we decide to do something, then several parts of our mind can oppose or support that thought or idea.
Example: Us: “I’m going to do yoga every morning”
One part of our mind: "No, let’s watch Twitch."
We tend to have wars in our minds because we have thoughts that come from different places.
Vedic philosophy posits that we have five parts of our mind.
What happens when you try to pursue a goal?
Intellect: “I need a job”
Emotional Mind: “They will think I am stupid” (Anxiety)
Identity: “Getting a minimum wage job is for losers — I am smarter than this.”
But then the intellect steps in to do some selective reasoning:
“Well, I am lazy”
The problem with that is that reasoning is that calling yourself lazy is not actionable. That process will not result in actions or goals. There is no solution to the problem of "being lazy".
What happens when you get insulted?
When you get insulted, you experience emotions such as anger or shame.
The Ego steps in as a protective mechanism and says: “I’m not stupid, you’re stupid. How dare you, do you know who I am?”
Our intellect goes: “Hey man, you’re not perfect.”
And other justifications and thoughts.
At the end of the day, the result of the interaction between all the parts of your mind depends on which part of your mind is stronger than the others.
Confidence is on the opposite side of the ego. If you need validation from others to feel good
about yourself, then that is your ego acting up.
Recognize and be aware of what thoughts are coming from which part of the mind. Awareness and noticing are 50% of the battle and it is a trainable skill.
You have to understand how you work because nobody else is going to be able to tell you how you work. Spend some time paying attention to yourself. Spend time being with yourself. Maybe even try staring at a wall. It is a brilliant exercise, and really hard to do.
There is a reason that shower thoughts are so profound and wonderful. It is because when you are in the shower, you are alone and by yourself. Go on walks, and be in nature on your own.
One of the reasons mental health is getting worse is that we spend more and more time with our mind focused on external things because there is way better external stuff to focus on now. You don’t have to be with yourself at all, during the day. You can listen to audio books in the shower with bluetooth speakers and you have a phone with you wherever you go. There are screens and podcasts around you 24/7 if you want. It is becoming easier and easier to not spend time with yourself. Thats what we called bored. Boredom is a mind that is unoccupied.
As we become less and less bored, it hurts us, because we never spend time with ourselves. We spend time with things besides ourselves.
Practically, how do you do that? Sitting and staring at a wall is a good place to start. Sit outdoors if you can and grab a glass of tea or lemon water, and just chill for 15- 20 minutes. Don’t take your phone. Take a piece of paper and something to write with, and if you feel like writing things down, do it.
Hikes are fantastic. Going for a walk is fantastic. Its hard to get distracted when you’re hiking. You get time spend time with yourself and just exist with yourself. Then you will get to know who you are. The more you get to know that person, the more you will realize that whether you are a failing medical student, or a doctor and faculty at harvard medical school, you are the same person. Nothing has changed. Those are all external trappings, but the person on the inside is the same. Once you realize that there is a constant within you that is irrespective of what your bank account says. Then you start to realize that noone can take that away from you. Then you know who you are.