Back in high school, I took a basic psychology class with a  teacher named Mrs. Glenda Tremewan.  We spent a unit or chapter studying Freud’s studies from 1923 on human personality.  We learned about the “id,” “ego” and “superego.”  These were all part of Freud’s three part theory on human personality and that each portion develops at different times in a human’s stage of  growth with the “id” being the development of basic instincts.  “Ego” being the reality part of the personality development and “superego” being the development of morality. The “id” and the “superego” being the two spectrums of development and the “ego,” right in the middle.  One writer defined ego as “who we are.”

Glenda Tremewan, my Grand Blanc High School Teacher of Psychology

    During many of Mr. Tremewan’s class discussions, she would talk an aside where she would give us day to day examples of how what we studied fit in into OUR teenage lives.  During the unit on Freud and his studies on human personality, she gave us some good advice that has always stuck with me.  In the discussions on ego, she led in with, you want to select someone as a life long partner who has their ego in check as in they have confidence and a good sense of self-esteem yet they aren’t cocky or arrogant and someone who can, in addition to being a spouse, be a friend as well.

Ego can get the best of someone and cause them to do things they may regret later, sometimes ruining reputations, businesses, partnerships, relationships or even lives.

    Ego.  It can get the best of someone.  It can help someone succeed or have the confidence to perform in the most stressful of times, think the forces that stormed the beaches and scaled the cliffs of Normandy on D-Day. Take a visit there, stand on the beach or go to the lookout points covered with barbed wire where the Germans stood watch.  Just standing there on a clear September day back in 2018 gave me the chills when I saw the waves crashing on the beach, it would take someone with confidence and guts to enter a plywood raft at dark and then start rappelling the cliffs to meet their fate and the Germans or the General who makes that decision to go into battle, risking the lives of parents’ precious children. Think about a race car driver moving at a high rate  of speed on a track or through a city in a Grand Prix race.  Consider the captain of a ship on the wide open seas with a crew of a couple thousand, or yet a performer singing to a packed soccer stadium or an athlete playing at the top of their game at the pinnacle of their sport, such as a Super Bowl,  The World Cup,  the World Series or the Olympic Games.  Yes, it does take a good sized Ego to a stand or participate in a big arena and not waver.  

General Dwight Eisenhower, talking to his troops during WWII.

   Ego can be a bad thing when it inflates the head and makes one think they are bigger than they are. It can be a laughable quality in a person when thinking of someone who is a character in a situation like the children’s story, The Emperor’s New Clothes” and we all have most likely witnessed at least one of these characters over a life time, it could be a car salesman who thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips, or the news anchor who thinks he or she can get away with bad behavior toward their colleagues or the politician whose head gets so big he or she becomes an embarrassment with his obnoxious behavior and comments.  In the worst of situations it can be a Ponzi scheme con artist who swindles honest hard working people of their retirement, a spouse who has secret liaisons on the side spending the couple’s finances in ways the other person has no idea of,  or a professional in the who is so blatantly arrogant and cavalier that they become reckless in their work, putting clients or patients, who trust them, at risk.  We read about after the fact, or sometimes see these playing out and we just know that it’s not going to end well.  In fact, if you were watching a movie with a storyline like this, it would possibly make us cringe as we wait for the house of card to come crashing down.

 An ego gone rogue can be the cause of a business partnership to dissolve, a band breaking up or even the demise of a marriage and a  family, which is the saddest of all.  Yes, and ego unchecked can  cause the end of life long relationships.

John Denver understood ego.

    The New Oxford American dictionary defines “ego” as - a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.  Of course, we all should have a healthy sense of self-esteem and our importance in the lives of those in our family and with those in our lives.  Each one of us is a valued member of the human race.  Our roles may change as we go through life, but our importance in the role we play in our lives on earth does not.  At times, it seems as if the people who have the most balanced  egos are those who recognize that they DO have something to offer. These people can range from the CEO that everyone wants to hire because they have good results and they treat every employee with respect realizing that “it takes a team,” to the high school principal who takes the time to attend as many student activities as they can to see how their students experience high school, to a “Pasta Granny” who I watch on Instagram who in her eighties or nineties who proudly describes their time honored technique to homemade pasta.

We all have a place in the world and something in our lives to be proud of at ANY age, look at the pride in the faces of the Pasta Grannies who are confident in what they bring to the table of life.

    A healthy ego, a dose of confidence and self-esteem are visible in a person from a mile away.  They are kind, thoughtful and willing to share what they know with others.  They treat ever person in their path with respect from the person who checks them out at the grocery store, to the car wash attendant to their physician.  The same could be said for someone with an out of control Ego, it can also be spotted from a mile away.  It’s the language they use, the reckless behavior it is the disrespect in the way that they treat those  around them from family to employee to those they do not know.  It’s almost as if as children, some these people were not held accountable for their bad behavior.

    There are some who have low-self esteem and that low esteem causes them to treat others they encounter with  disrespect and bullying.  Think of the “Mean Girl” in the group who is always ready with a cutting remark or insult.  They feel if this type of behavior makes them superior to the person they insult.  Their “ego” plays games with them and allows them to think that this is ok, when they feel threatened by a gal who is younger, prettier, smarter or more talented the claws come out and the person on the receiving end better look out.  In reality, that person has already sized up the individual and what comes to mind to them is, “How quickly can I remove myself from this situation and that, that individual is to be pitied because they don’t realize that there is no threat, that THEY ARE A VALUED PERSON, with qualities to be admired, unique to them and that we all have a place here.”

    Mrs. Tremewan was right in her assumption in that the person with the ego in check who could be a spouse in addition to a friend, would be a good partner for life.  When I look around at those relationships and marriages that have stood the test of time, that quality appears to be present.  I can say that from experience as my husband and I will  celebrate 35 years of marriage next week.  Thanks Mrs. Tremewan for the lesson, words of wisdom and…Many Great Days ❤️