Sigmund Freud believed that if you have a strong sense of self, you are able to understand your own needs, as well as the boundaries that society imposes on you. If you have a strong sense of self, you can move freely through life.
It will not be difficult at all for you to recognize your internal oppression and you will be content and fulfilled in your daily life.
To begin with, it is important to note that many of the fundamental psychoanalytic ideas are no longer valid today. Concepts like penis envy or female hysteria are obsolete. Despite this, psychoanalysis has managed to remain relevant by embracing new ideas and adapting to modern times.
The Viennese Quack
In his day, Freud’s ideas were new and daring. One of his nicknames was “the Viennese quack” because people thought his techniques were too weird.
Nevertheless, the fire he lit all those years ago still burns, though it has certainly lost some of its heat. Studies such as this one from Linköping University in Sweden show that the main problem of psychoanalysis today is the length of treatment.
This type of therapy requires four sessions per week for as many months or years as the patient needs. Nowadays it is difficult for people to invest so much time.
Modern life is demanding and we are used to instant gratification. It is not always possible to adapt to such a long treatment plan. Therefore, modern therapists make much more use of faster therapies.
Sigmund Freud would have been completely against that. According to him, one of the main goals of every psychoanalyst was to work on the patient’s self-awareness (ego). The psychoanalyst must convert this mental power into a healthy individual and heal any conflict that stands in the way of this individual’s freedom and well-being.
Freud was convinced that this required dedication, time, and a patient willing to dig deep.
A strong self-awareness in the midst of limiting mental forces
One of Freud’s most interesting works is his book Introduction to Psychoanalysis. Interestingly enough, this is actually an unfinished book.
When he wrote the book, Freud had fled because of World War II. He was already quite old and his health did not allow him to finish what eventually became a posthumous and revealing book.
The book was a summary of things he had already written about. However, he also used it to dig deeper into his most relevant theories.
Some examples are the psychic apparatus, the interpretation of dreams and the psychoanalytic technique. The most important part of this book is the further definition of the concepts of ‘the id, the ego and the superego’.
For the first time, the celebrated Viennese psychoanalyst delved into the idea of a strong self-awareness and the human need to consolidate this self-awareness within the mental architecture. Freud also said it is complicated to develop a healthy self-awareness. Freud believed it is the reason many of us are not fulfilled, happy or free.
Reasons you haven’t developed a strong self-awareness
There are two opposing forces coexisting within yourself. On the one hand, there is the id, with its basic and basic needs. And on the other hand, we have the superego that reflects the internalization of the strict rules of society. The superego limits your desires, aspirations and dreams.
- According to Freud, the id always needs something and always feels dissatisfied in some way. The id is anxious, restless, and does not understand the past or the future.
- The superego, on the other hand, is a complex entity that holds us back. It limits our freedom, controls our behavior and destroys our dreams. The superego is a social and cultural entity that shapes us and that suppresses the id.
- The ego, self-consciousness, is at the center of it all. The obligations, dreams and desires that are acceptable in society are not always enough to meet our needs. This may be part of the reason why we often don’t want to develop a strong sense of self. Sometimes we even feel fragmented and lost because of it.
How can I develop a strong, healthy and happy self-awareness?
In the book Introduction to Psychoanalysis , Freud explained that there are a number of factors that determine whether or not you can develop a strong sense of self. He described the following causes:
- Over-dependence on your parents : Freud believed that children are taking longer and longer to mature and become independent people. They develop things like initiative and determination much later in life.
- A childhood and adolescence full of rules, punishment and strict upbringing.
- Growing up without close and affectionate role models that allow optimal development.
As you can see, Freud was convinced that childhood is a very important period in a person’s life. However, the part of his posthumous work that is truly valuable is the advice he gives to develop a strong sense of self:
This is how you develop a stronger self-awareness
- To have a strong self-awareness (ego), you should not fight against your id or your superego.
- It’s about maintaining a balance between these forces. You should try to achieve harmony between your needs and your responsibilities.
- In order for these two energies to get along, you need to shed light on all that you have suppressed or hidden within yourself. As you work on this aspect of yourself, your hidden needs, motivations, and fears come to the fore. You also have to deal with fears, traumas and memories from your childhood that you have not yet processed.
- Freud also talks about the importance of working on your independence. As soon as you dare to show all your different dimensions to the world, you have to deal with it in a mature way.
- You may think you never got what you deserve. This unresolved fear will follow you everywhere and everywhere. One way to gain a strong sense of self is to free yourself from that need. After all , necessity leads to submission and disease.
Finally, many of Freud’s ideas are still relevant and invite us to reflect on some important concepts. Strengthening your self-awareness is something you should work on practically every day of your life. So just keep working on yourself. It’s totally worth it!