Walls: Are They Helping or Hurting?



Building walls is what we do to protect or guard ourselves, whether from pain or out of fear.  This is actually common.  You would like to trust again or even fall in love again, but can’t let down your guard because of that one loss, that one person or that one relationship.

My grandmother always told me that it was important to always be myself, no matter what or who tried to change me.  I’ve always tried to hold true that lesson, but it hasn’t always been easy.  I’ve encountered many things and people over the years that have tried to change me – heartbreak, divorce, disappointment, even an abusive relationship.

Sometimes, though, those painful or difficult situations cause us to want to hide a part of ourselves.  So, we build walls in hopes of shutting out the pain or avoiding further pain.   In doing this, though, we also shut out people, emotions, and sometimes opportunities.  Inside these walls, we create what we think is a haven for ourselves – a world where we feel safe and in control.

I don’t have walls.   I’m just guarded.  

This may be hard to hear, but there is no difference.  Being guarded means you are on the defense, ready to fight off anyone who tries to scale your walls.  Think about the castles in Europe; they built large walls around them to keep out invaders.

Newsflash:  walls don’t work.  

Think about this: walls are designed to keep people out, not let them in.   So, those walls that you’re using to keep people out are also keeping you locked inside.  Walls don’t protect you from hurt or pain.  They become your prison, keeping you from finding whatever it is that you’re really seeking.   This is the opposite of what you want.

Walls  give you a false sense of security.

As long as I’m behind these walls, no one can see how vulnerable/weak/scared I really am.  

If you’re guarded it’s because you are fighting to maintain the image you want other people to believe is the real you.

Walls protect our egos, the person we want to believe that we are.  

The truth is that your walls keep people from seeing the real you.   It’s easier to pretend to be strong than it is to let others see your vulnerability or pain.   So we use these walls to allow ourselves to maintain this image.

Think about this: you meet this guy/girl, and after a few dates you’re thinking you really like this person.  This person is happy, upbeat, and hardworking; he/she appears to be everything you’re looking for in a partner.  As time goes by, you find out that this person has a checkered past and he/she never mentioned this to you.  This person put up walls to protect him/herself – maybe because they are ashamed of their past, or because they have been unfairly judged by it and don’t want it to happen again.

What did these walls REALLY do?   These walls kept you from getting to know and appreciate them for who they are now.

Their walls shut you out because you never had a chance to get to know the real them.   

Their walls also caused them more pain.  When you found out the truth, this person was hurt by your reaction – whether it was anger, a plethora of questions about why, or you ended the relationship.   Their walls created a prison in which they continue to have to deal with the pain of past mistakes.

We all have a past.  We have each faced pain, loss, disappointment, or even our own shame because of things we’ve done.  But rather than try to hide from the past, isn’t it better if we just face it head-on so we can move on?

When facing our past hurts, mistakes, or the people attached to them, you have to make a choice: to be true to who you are and face them head on, or to let them consume you.

Walls do not protect your heart.  

It can be easy to get swept up in the pain and hurt to the point that you want to hide.   These walls, though, soon become your prison, keeping out the very people and emotions that you want – love, happiness, contentment, peace.

Can you recall a time when you thought you had life all figured out?

How different is your life now compared to what you thought it would be?

There is an old saying about life changing all the questions just when you get the answers.

Life never goes as we planned.  Sometimes we get hurt; sometimes we hurt others; sometimes we make stupid decisions.  As my grandmother would have said, shit happens.

But that doesn’t mean you have to let the shit define you or lock you inside a self-imposed prison.

You are the only one who can tear down your walls, and you can only do this by opening up about your past with those who really matter to you. 

This means making yourself vulnerable and understanding that there will be times when you are hurt, or judged unfairly.

But, it’s worth it when you find others who will love you for who you are now and not judge you on your past.  It’s worth it when you can laugh and love without condition.  It’s worth it when you experience the type of happiness that comes from truly being yourself.  

Isaac Newton once said, “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.”

Maybe it’s time to start taking down your walls, and instead, start building a bridge so you can invite in those people who will enrich your journey.  It’s no fun to travel alone.