The Child, The Parent and The Adult

In conversation last weekend, I was told something profound about inner voices. Not the Critic or the Running Commentator we all have in our head. But the voices that protect us, the voices inside that help us decide what to do. You know, if you ever took a psychology class and studied Freud? The Id, Ego and Superego? What if they were voices in your head?

Anyway.

I had always combined those three concepts into two and labelled them as Child and Grownup versions of me. The Child would be the one most associated with my Id, wanting to sleep in instead of work, or eat, drink, fuck instead of exercise any kind of moderation of self-control. The Grownup would be the decision-maker, telling the Child to “shutup and deal with it”, or when the Child was upset, the Grownup would comfort, and promise “a cookie if you just got through this or that.”

Now that you all think I’m crazy, let me deliver the message of this post. The conversation I had unearthed a third voice, the Adult (or the ego). I had always assumed there were only two voices, but instead, I realized there were three. The Child has already been identified, but the Grownup was really my Parental voice. The one that soothed when needed and demanded when needed. But still reacted based on emotion and instinct.

The Adult, however, is the voice that needs to take in the facts and understand the consequences of making a real life decision. The Adult doesn’t scold or comfort, it just understands. It makes decisions and it tallies the important lessons learned in life and imparts them when necessary: “You can’t control anyone else, you can only control you”, “That person’s feelings are important, but you can’t change them, you can only appreciate them”, “Be you, the world will adjust”.

Basically, the Adult is the person we all want to be, or read that we are supposed to be. And apparently some people become these Adults. The voice naturally takes charge and these people live enriched, fulfilled lives that are not free of pain or sadness or joy, but they are in control. They are. Not their emotions. Not the Child. Not the Parent. The Adult.

I realized that I do have this voice within me. But the voice is not my own. It is a conglomeration of everyone else’s Adult. Which is pretty awesome, because it’s easy for the Child to listen to that voice and immediately trust it. It’s also kinda crappy, because the Parent is immediately distrustful and tries to protect the Child from anything imparted by the Adult.

And yet, the Adult steps in, and is there anyway. I think if the Child can continue to grow up and listen to the Adult, that voice may eventually become mine.

Baby steps, little Child. The Parent will always be there for you, but they aren’t always right.

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