“The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.” – Jim Rohn
There are ways to find and experience true love and there are ways to keep love out. Which do you want? Do you want to put up walls and keep love out or do you want to unlock the key to finding true love and let down your walls?
What is a wall? Why do we have walls? What do walls look like? What purpose do these walls serve?
Walls are emotional barriers. Walls are defense mechanisms meant to protect us from being hurt. Walls are boundaries around your heart keeping you from letting someone in.
Many of the walls we have were built up over the years for survival. It’s likely that these walls were erected without our knowledge or understanding. They were built to keep us safe.
Most of our walls were built when we were children to protect us from some type of abuse whether it was physical, emotional or sexual. Some of us have walls due to certain events like rape or war. Everyone has a different story and a different way of coping.
Some people turn inward and walls express themselves as anger or depression, others to anxiety or insecurity or drugs or alcohol and many end up in abusive relationships. Others crawl into a hole of emptiness or become anorexic, bulimic or cut themselves.
If you have built up walls it’s because you have felt pain or loss or shame or guilt and you fear feeling that way again. Your mind and body are trying to protect you from something that no longer exists. Building walls is a normal reaction to trauma.
The problem with walls is that at some point they stop protecting you and start harming you and you don’t even realize it has happened.
Just because you have walls and you know it doesn’t mean you are ready to let others in. So, if you aren’t ready breaking down your walls may seem exceedingly difficult if not impossible and you can’t be too hard on yourself.
At the same time remember that the concrete and mortar that once shielded you is now a barrier. The ceiling and walls that once surrounded you and kept you safe are now keeping you prisoner. If you don’t break down your walls you will not let love in and you will not ever be free of your past.
If you don’t break down your walls you will never able to show your true self to another and you will be letting your past dictate your future and I’m guessing that you want more than that.
First you need to understand why you have walls.
Understanding where your walls come from and why you built them is an essential step to breaking them down. Being sexually abused for nearly seven years taught me that you cannot trust anyone, not even those people that say they are your friends. Being abused left me with gigantic walls that I was not going to tear down easily.
I learned very early on that it was my job to protect everyone and that by creating walls I could function and handle the abuse because I didn’t think others could bear the burden. However, now I understand that this was a child’s way of coping and was not based on any functional, rational thought.
But over time, I came to understand that the walls that kept me safe turned into battlements. Everyone became the enemy. I was prepared to protect myself at all costs and I didn’t even know I was doing it.
My walls caused me to push everyone out and to not let them see my vulnerability. Vulnerability meant that I would be taken advantage of. It meant I would let someone take something from me that I was not willing to give. So, in response I choose to wall up my heart.
The problem with this way of being is that it’s awfully lonely. If no one can get into your heart then you are basically living alone in your fear. Pain and fear have become your best friends and they often manifest themselves as insecurity, avoidance or even apathy.
As the years progressed and I grew into an adult I appeared completely confident, self-sufficient, independent and experienced and maybe to some extent I was. I put myself through college and law school, traveled the world and was usually in a long term committed relationships.
But, if you were to look deep inside my walls it was all a façade. I didn’t feel secure. I didn’t feel happy. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I felt alone. I was still in pain, but, I was protected so yeah for me.
So, if you want to understand why you have your walls then first ask yourself why you think you have your walls and what you think you’re protecting yourself from.
Next, ask what you really want with your life. Do you want to live in fear? Do you want to keep letting your insecurities run your life? Do you want to keep feeling alone even when you are in a relationship?
If you are reading this, then my guess is the answer is a resounding, “No”.
Although I can’t personally take away your pain or tear down your walls for you I can give you some tips on where to begin.
Stop Complaining & Blaming
We can’t take down our walls until we understand we have them and take responsibility for allowing them to exist.
My first tip to bringing down your walls is to stop thinking you have no control over whether you have your walls and stop complaining. There is a difference between telling your story and complaining about your story. Stop blaming your parents, your friends, your job or your partner.
The fact that you erected walls was due to something outside your control, but the fact that you keep them around is now of your own doing.
Decide you want to be a victor instead of a victim. Stop expecting others to make everything okay for you. Your happiness is your job. If there are people in your life who do not support you or who bring you down or who criticize you it isn’t their job to change. It’s your job to put up boundaries, kick them out and realize you deserve better.
We all have hard days and we all struggle at one time or another and it’s okay to be upset sometimes or feel a little lost. What isn’t okay is staying in that place day in and day out. If you view the world in terms of lack instead of bounty then you will keep getting just that a BIG Nothing.
Complaining and blaming accomplish nothing and it leaves us in a negative mindset of feeling sorry for ourselves. The past is the past and you cannot change it. You can embrace your truth, face it head on and put it behind you or you can keep living it over and over and over for the rest of your life.
The choice is yours.
Do The Work
It seems to me that a lot of people expect their life to change as if by magic. Stop thinking you can keep doing the same things and somehow, some way you will get a different result. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work this way.
Walls can take the form of insecurities or low self-esteem and if you have low self-esteem then you need to find a way to really and truly feel better about yourself and learn to love who you are. For me, this took hypnotherapy, books, work-books and re-evaluating every belief that I had about myself both conscious and subconscious. It was not easy and it was not fun, but it was worth it.
If you want to break down your walls you need to look inside and face your fears. If you constantly react to your partner due to insecurities then it’s your job to recognize those and work towards not reacting that way.
If you are in a relationship don’t say, “Well, it goes both ways.” I hate when people say that. YES, it goes both ways in a relationship but you can never change another person and you aren’t responsible for what someone else does or doesn’t do and to keep expecting them to do the right thing by you is living in a victim state.
If you think you gave everything in your last relationship and the other person gave nothing it doesn’t mean you stop giving or that giving is wrong. It means you gave more than you should have or you chose the wrong person. Look to your own behavior, don’t blame the other person.
What can YOU change to be a better partner? Don’t expect your partner to change first. Do the work.
Figure out what you want to change. One of the things I realized I needed to change was learning to let down my walls enough to face my fear of being fully and completely vulnerable which is absolutely petrifying.
Instead of focusing on how I could be more open about my feelings I started obsessively thinking about breaking up with him and I started to blame him for everything. Blaming him was an easy way out. Blaming him allowed me to keep up my walls and pretend nothing was my fault. But, I knew deep inside I was only fooling myself since he hadn’t done anything wrong.
So, I decided to try rapid transformational therapy to stop myself from acting this way and to break down my walls. Amazingly enough, it worked and now I try to focus on how to be okay with being afraid instead of putting up walls to block the fear and keep it out.
If you react to your partner with anger or frustration it usually means you are scared or have another feeling that you don’t want to feel because to do so would make you vulnerable which means you could get hurt. These are walls.
If you are angry about something try to process your thoughts before you react. For example, there are days where my boyfriend doesn’t contact me (he’s on a deployment). For someone who has massive walls your thoughts will naturally turn to “He doesn’t care” or “He’s going to break up with me” and you start to shut down emotionally.
Think about whether your thoughts are a truth or just a belief that you have.
The point of all this self-work is to take control of your life instead of your life controlling you.
I know it’s hard and I know it’s scary to face your fears, your demons and all those emotions that are holding you back. But, what is your alternative? If you want to stay behind your walls then you are free to do so, but realize that you will never let true love in if you stay there.
You Can Do It
Sometimes all your issues and problems and insecurities seem unduly burdensome. Sometimes the baggage seems so heavy that you don’t want to unpack so you just drop it where it is and keep it hanging around.
But, try to think of it like this: When you come back from a trip do you take all your clothes out and throw them all over the floor and then put them away? Of course not. You unzip your suitcase, lay it out flat, decide where to start and little by little you take everything out and put it in its proper place.
Think of your issues and your walls like this. Unpack one thing at a time and then move onto the next. If you try to tackle everything all at once you will likely become overwhelmed and give up.
If you truly want to let love into your life (this includes loving yourself) you need to learn how to let your walls come down. Maybe you build tiny windows, or you start bulldozing them down or perhaps you give someone a ladder to climb over. Whatever way works for you is okay. Just keep moving forward.
I know how scary vulnerability can be. I know how hard it is to let someone see you for who you are because you’re afraid of being judged or being hurt. But, I also believe that if you don’t try and you don’t open your heart and you don’t break down your walls your life will be emptier than it had to be.
You Can Do It.