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Monday, April 29, 2013

There Is an Animal Inside All of Us

In the continuation of Freud´s threefold model of the psyche - Super-Ego - Ego - ID - this is about the ID (read my Presidio Sentinel Column on it HERE). It is the part that gives us the will go on, to strive for more, want more, but also to want it NOW. How does all that fit under one hat? The answer is naturally, when we look at it as a development within mankind as well as in each individual.

Kids. Their perception of time is different from the one we have as adults. The blessed years before we understand the clock and also get close to being able to guess the length of an hour, is also the time when kids get very absorbed in their activities or at the same time can´t imagine to wait another 5 minutes for a treat and unravel at the mention of having to do just that. Getting desires met and fulfilled now, that´s all that counts. A child does not choose having healthy teeth in the long run over having candy now. It is similar with animals. They live on instincts, impulses and would rather not have to wait for anything.

Slowly, time can be "trained". The delay of gratification is getting easier and can be achieved for longer times. There are different ways to train and condition that, like Pavlov showed with his famous dog, bell and salivation experiment. It is important for the trained one (it works on animals as well as people) to understand the connection between stimulus (bell) and result (treat).

Whereas it is generally good if we can choose the "toy at the end of the week" over an instant small treat, sometimes it is good to rely on that "animal in us". It gets us out of worry-loops or unproductive questioning and undermining of our own decisions. "It is done!" says the ID and thinks nothing more of it, already off to new adventures. It is the wise thing to discern which things need the careful consideration and which don´t. Often we overthink things and lose energy and vitality, never allowing for little errors or decisions on a whim. So we got ourselves an ice cream cone on the first beautiful day of the year, despite of being on a diet. As long as this will not happen daily, or we are not diabetic or allergic to dairy, let´s enjoy it and move on.

The ID is our source of gut feelings and instincts. They are important for a vibrant and lively way to live. It is the balance of the ID, the Ego and the Super-Ego that matters. This balance can be found with awareness, therapy or coaching, if needed.

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