Strengthening Your Inner Self

Each of us has a desire to understand who we are as individuals and many of us hope to strengthen our inner selves as we age. This article is an analogy I use in my college classes to describe the strength of that inner self, known as ego in personality psychology.

Bubbles, Bouncy Balls, and Baseballs

Three childhood objects can be used to represent our inner selves and outer beings: bubbles, bouncy balls and baseballs. Every area of our life whether that be school, work, exercise, family and friendships are impacted by who we are on the inside and how we represent ourselves on the outside. These three objects are therefore symbolic representations of the self, the ego, the individual engaged in living and attempting to be successful and happy.

Bubbles are free-floating, pushed by outside forces, and quite fragile.

They may bring along a friend in that bubbles tend to float with other bubbles until their mutual demise, though often one lasts just a bit longer than its friend. Bubbles are fun and bring great joy to the young and the old, for who can resist chasing after to pop a bubble in the air? Are you now not smiling while contemplating running after a bubble?

Every now and then there might be a very long-lasting bubble, one that floats much longer than its friends, or one that when poked does not seem to pop but incorporates the object doing the popping. Think about being a kid and slowly pushing your finger into a bubble, sometimes it would pop, other times your finger would get incorporated into the bubble!

When it comes to making new goals or acquiring new skills or trying to change parts of ourselves, most of us likely function as bubbles. We are not sure of ourselves so we let ourselves be moved along by outside forces, we are fragile in this process and can easily be popped. And yet behind one bubble often comes another bubble. Perhaps this is us trying again at our failed attempt, or perhaps it is us trying out something new.

Bubbles are forgotten soon after they pop. While they might leave a wet, soapy mark soon after they pop, that mark is soon washed away with the next rain, leaving no trace behind.

Bouncy Balls are more solid than a bubble but can be deflated easily.

A child's Bouncy Ball can pop but not without great effort and a sharp object. They can be deflated, true, and yet inflated once again with some amount of support and effort. These balls come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors and can be bounced, hit, kicked, sat on and yet they retain their shape and bounce.

Bouncy balls can cause some amount of damage to others, for who does not remember getting pegged by one in playground fun as a schoolchild. For in fact, many of us still play "ball tag" with our own kids in the backyard, running around laughing and screaming at the joy of hitting someone and getting hit by a bouncy ball (though not at times without a few tears as well). So bouncy balls may leave a mark, a place, an effect. Bouncy balls may hit one's nose when it bounces back from the sidewalk, they may give a type of skin burn when hit upon a bare leg, may break one of mom's beloved objects, thus the often yelled "Don't play ball in the house!" These bouncy balls may leave their mark, but this mark will fade with some amount of time -- one's nose will stop bleeding eventually, one's skin will heal the "ball rash," mom will replace her beloved object.

Their strength has potential as you can see. Their strength is dependent upon the amount of force applied to them, unlike bubbles which in fact need a much gentler force to even exist. What might cause that stronger force within the life of a bouncy ball? For starters, that bigger kid on the playground, or dad versus mom in the backyard. Or something within that bouncy ball that once started, keeps on going ... for we have each had to at one point chase down that favorite purple ball that seemed to have a life of its own.

Most of us as we age, I believe, function within our lives as bouncy balls. Not easily broken or deflated, yet can be popped like a bubble. We may have a sense of where we are going but we need some outside action to get us there. We may have an impact but that impact may not be long-lasting. We may give up too soon because it all seems to much to handle, we get dizzy with the effort.

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