Friday, 13 July 2012

Living La Dolce Vita!

Roma, Roma, Roma!!
As you may have guessed, I recently came back (in the early hours of this morning to be specific) from a little jaunt in Italy....Thought I'd share some amusing highlights from my trip!

Most touristy moment
When I considered almost buying a 2013 calendar of cute young Roman Catholic priests (believe me they were bloomin' gorgeous)! 

Freak out moment
When I arrived in Bologna train station and realised that my connecting train had been cancelled due to a train drivers strike (only in Italy).  Was pretty impressed that I didn't panic too much (am crediting daily meditation for my zen calm) and instead immediately when into alternative route planning mode (am such an earth personality type). 

Yummy pizza!
Best grub
Got to be a 4 cheese and zucchini flower pizza washed down with a cold beer (see pic-yum yum),  served at a back-to-basics pizzeria filled with locals and colourful banter. (If you're ever in Rome check this place out: Barfetto 2 on Piazza del Teatro di Pompeo near Piazza Navona).

Scariest cab driver
Taxi guy who picked me up in Bologna, when he missed the junction, he actually contemplated stopping and reversing back up the motorway, thankfully he decided against it!! 

Most awe inspiring moment
Driving up to the health lodge in the stunning Dolomites (1800 metres up, see pic below) made the tiresome and expensive journey from Rome worthwhile.

The Dolomites (in arty photo mode)
Sleaziest Roman
Restaurant waiter on my first night who insisted that I didn't tip, as I should come back the next night and go out with him (as if)! Needless to say I left the tip and never returned to that restaurant.

Weirdest spa treatment
The hay pack where you are essentially covered head to toe in wet hay (yes hay, the stuff horses eat!) and wrapped up in layers of towels and plastic sheeting and then left for an hour floating on a water bed, until someone came to unravel you. It was meant to detox you but all it really did was leave me with a troublesome shower situation and a certain smell which took a while to disappear!

Your Ego....Friend or Foe??

While I was recently wandering through the Vatican (as you do :)), a tourist passed me wearing a t-shirt with an interesting slogan "Your ego is not your amigo".  

During the same trip, I also came across this quote from the novel I was reading (Eat Pray Love),

"That's just your ego trying to make sure it stays in charge.  This is what your ego does....Your ego's job isn't to serve you. It's only job is to keep itself in power."

It got me thinking about whether the t-shirt and the novel were actually true. Is your ego really something to be wary of. Ego...friend or foe?

Putting on my trainee psychotherapy hat for a moment, it was Freud who devised the psyche into 3 parts; the id, the ego and the super-ego. So let's look at how all three of these operate...

  • The id is the unorganised and unconscious part of the psyche which contains basic drives (for example the libido). The id acts to avoid discomfort, pain, displeasure and is unresponsive to the demands of reality. So a newborn baby would be described as completely "id-ridden" (it focuses only on its drives and impulses and requires instant satisfaction (as many a new parent will tell you!)).
  • The ego is the organised part of the psyche that includes defensive and intellectual-cognitive functions. Conscious awareness resides in the ego, although not all of the ego's operations are conscious.The ego aims to please the drive of the id in ways that will not cause harm in the long term (i.e. ways that are grounded in reality). The ego sometimes has to handle conflicting demands between the id and reality (and the super-ego). However, the ego appears to be more loyal to the id in times of such conflict, thereby essentially ignoring reality. To combat these conflicts, the ego develops defence mechanisms such as denial, displacement, fantasy, projection and repression.
  • The super-ego aims for perfection (i.e. its continually disappointed and unsatisfied)!  The super-ego includes a person's ideals (your sense of right and wrong), spiritual goals, and agency which forbids and/or criticises a person's drives, fantasies, feelings and actions. So essentially the super-ego is the part of you that  provides feelings of guilt, remorse etc, after you have done something to satisfy the needs of your id (naughty!). 

Sigi (as his ma used to call him)!
So what we have here is essentially a psyche sandwich (so to speak!), with the id and super-ego at opposing ends (regularly fighting with one another) and the ego stuck in the middle. And after a bit of a struggle, the ego normally sides with the id for convenience and thereby justifies actions, feelings etc of the id through various defence mechanisms. 

There's a debate as to whether you can live totally ego free. My ten pence on the subject, for what its worth, is you can't. Your ego (in Latin meaning I am) is your sense of who you are, its what gets you out of bed in the morning, gets you to work and stuff. So trying to live without it would be hopeless (and quite depressing). 

I feel that the best we can do is to be aware of the three parts to our psyche and to try to balance the demands of our id with those beliefs contained in our super-ego, and therefore leaving the ego with less of a fight on its hands. Though all of this is easier said then done!

So next time you're trying to make a decision on something (chocolate or the gym... ice cream or the or the gym), stop and think about whether its truly your choice or whether your id is taking over and your ego is just too damn lazy to stop it! 

Till next month, take care all!