A soap bubble may serve as a good symbol of our individual, separate existence, as it surrounds and protects us, but at the same time completely isolates us from the external reality and the other ”soap bubble” people. We may try to get closer to reality or to another person, but we are never able to reach them, as there is the wall of the soap-bubble. We are only able to see reality and the other people through the wall of the soap-bubble, which is tinted to various colors by our opinions and desires.
Three Basic Motivational Factors
According to humanistic psychology, we have three basic motivational factors that determine the birth of personal identity. One is the need to belong to somebody, the other is the need of safety, and the third is the need of appreciation.
These demands or needs appear in our life in the order listed above, and they are hierarchically connected to each other. It means that the need of safety only becomes important when our need to belong to somebody has already been satisfied, at least to a minimum extent. Similarly, the need of appreciation will be important when we already belong to somebody (it can be an individual or a group), and our need of safety, stability has been met to a certain degree.
Satisfying these needs is of primary importance for us, as they provide the foundations for our individual existence and personal identity.
All this also suggests that our personal identity is basically social, as belonging to somebody, safety and appreciation all depend on other people.
The foundations of our personal identity are constructed in the first years of our life, when we are embedded in the society of our family. Our parents are the ones who help us satisfy our needs, and in this way lay down the foundation stones of our separate, individual existence.
In the Safety of our Soap-Bubble Castle
Our parents and teachers ”blow up” the soap-bubble for us, when they satisfy our initial needs, and we soon regard our soap-bubble as our own personal identity. In the course of our life, we develop the soap-bubble into a soap-bubble castle that we regard as safe. Since we have no idea that we are soap-bubble people, we are immensely proud of our own soap-bubble, the construction diary of which is added to our own personal history.
Our soap-bubble castle does not stand alone in some desert; it stands in one of the streets of a nice soap-bubble town, close to the other soap-bubble castles, as the need to belong to someone, our needs of safety and of appreciation will only be satisfied in interaction with other soap-bubble people.
But, as a consequence of our soap-bubble existence, all these needs will never be completely satisfied, as the walls of our soap-bubbles do not allow real connection and contact with others.
The walls of the soap-bubble are created by our sense of separation which destines us to eternal solitude, even if there are hundreds of other soap-bubble people around us in our soap-bubble town. In order to alleviate the unpleasantness of loneliness, we decorate our soap-bubble existence with nice images made of the individuality of our life, and we fill books with nice tales of our life. The images, the tales and the alleged safety of the soap-bubble town lull us into a false sense of security, into a beautiful dream.
False Sense of Safety
There are numerous signs in our life that all indicate how false our sense of safety is. One sich sign is the confusion in our relationships with other people. This confusion is brought about the fact that as soap-bubble people we will never be able to completely understand the others, and will never be able to come into real contact with them.
We are only able to contact other people through the walls of our soap-bubble, but the wall is tinted into different, distorting colours by our desires and opinions. The distorting coat of colours will be thicker and thicker in the course of our life, making the originally transparent walls more and more difficult to see through. We therefore never see reality itself, but only something that we believe is reality.
Every single individual created their own individual reality in this way, and the reality thus created is different from all the other individual realities.
As there are no two identicial individual realities, the realities, when get into contact, often collide with each other. Naturally, there are realities which are similar to each other, and the force of collision is smaller when such realities meet, and it is likely that they are able to come into a compromise and create a district in the soap-bubble town where they enjoy a higher sense of safety.
Another sign that points at the weaknesses of our sense of safety is the fear of death, which is present in every human being.
Enveloped in the false sense of security of our soap-bubble castle, we are all afraid of death, which will put an end to our soap-bubble existence. The big unknown arrives, and bursts our soap-bubble castle in an instant.
We may pretend that death does not exist, that after death we will be in a bigger soap-bubble, or the master who blows the soap-bubbles will protect us from perishing.
These tales only alleviate our fear of death somewhat, but will not fully eliminate it.
The End of the Soap-Bubble Existence
What is able to put an end to the soap-bubble existence?
The first step is the recognition that our existence is built upon false foundations, that there is something wrong with it.
Without realizing that, we so strongly identify with our soap-bubble existence that we consider that as our basic and natural state.
But if we start to wake up from the dream of our soap-bubble existence, we realize very soon that there is something wrong with us in the world around us. Then the glue binding us to the world of forms and shapes begins to melt away, a space, smaller or larger, is created in us and-detached from the forms and shapes-we are able to contemplate the forces determining our personal life as eyewitnesses.
Now we realize that this soap-bubble life, this separate world does not exist at all, it has only been created by our identification with thoughts, forms and shapes.
The obligation and urge to build up a personal identity generates this separation, this soap-bubble around us almost automatically. Society then feeds and sustains the separation.
What are we without our personal identity?
When we wake up from the sleep of personal identity we recognize that we are the free space of the Consciousness. We are not identical with the shapes and forms appearing in this space, but we are the space itself, the space that enables the forms and shapes to appear and that keeps the forms and shapes alive.
Read more articles from Frank M. Wanderer