Most of us know what it’s like to feel encapsulated. We know what it’s like to feel powerless, helpless and trapped.
We may feel like life is passing us by without being a participant. We may feel underutilized and live on the perimeter of experience. Being in the bubble may make us feel secure, but at the same time we may feel a calling to move out of the comfort zone. Conflict emerges.
Although familiarity and safety can keep us out of harms way, it can also prevent us from participating in all the positive experiences that life has to offer. The comfort of safety is good for a season, until it no longer helps us move forward with our lives. Then we have a choice to make.
Do we stay in a place of comfort, or do we move into the unknown of experience? Psychological growth entails mustering the courage to eventually step outside the bubble.
Safety is a basic human need. Safetly makes us feel secure, oriented and soothed. Without meeting the psychological need for safety, we would feel unprotected, vulnerable, and out of control. Fear is a warning that something is wrong, and we need to protect ourselves from harms way.
This is good and necessary. But many of us also use this basic need as a way of protecting ourselves from conflict, trauma, difficult problems, and rocky relationships. This is what I call “staying in the bubble.” We protect ourselves because it anethetizes us from the pain of reality.
Regardless, as we transition to adulthood, we may continue to look for external validation as a way to make us feel secure, while we live in the midst of insecurity. Eventually, the notion of trying to stay secure breaks down as we are faced with ambiguous and challenging problems.
Alan Watts, author and philosopher, alludes to this paradox. The more we try to grab onto security, the more we actually feel out of control. According to Watts, “Grabbing for security is like trying to hold water in our hands.” Paradoxically, it is only when we embrace insecurity, that we actually become for grounded.
Inevitably, if we are to grow and change as adults, the “toothpaste must come out of the tube.” We must move gradually out of the bubble. We must confront the challenges, paradoxes, problems, and painful reality of an insecure world. The more we actually accept the call to reality, the easier it becomes to manage the insecurity that goes with it. This what Watts calls the “wisdom of insecurity.”
About The Author
James P. Krehbiel is an author, writer and cognitive-behavioral therapist practicing in Scottsdale, Arizona. He recently published a book entitled Stepping Out of the Bubble: Reflections on the Pilgrimage of Counseling Therapy. He is the sole owner of this published article and its contents. He can be reached at krehbiel counseling.