Working with traumatized individuals I often hear people say they have trouble getting beyond an emotional “wall” they have built. We create these walls as a defense to protect ourselves after we’ve been hurt by someone. A wall can act as a strict boundary that says “keep out” or “no trespassing.” As I listen to people talk about the walls they’ve built to keep themselves safe, I also hear them express hope that these walls might come down because they feel very isolated behind them. Our walls can become prisons. Some people say they would be happier if they could just remove a brick or two. This post is to help you try to visualize what a happy life might look like beyond your wall.
Imagine your wall and picture each brick you have placed. When did you first start building your protective wall? What do you remember about the first brick you laid that started your wall? How has your wall kept you safe? How has your wall been a barrier to healthy relationships or other things you want for yourself? What kind of boundaries would you prefer to set with others without the help of your wall?
What if you could lay that wall down and see that it creates a brick road stretched out before you. (Think Wizard of Oz with the yellow brick road spiraling it’s way outward.) Maybe you’ve been building your wall higher and higher for some time now and, as you think about laying that wall down, you see that it extends for miles ahead. Because you have been stuck behind this wall for so long, you might find that you feel both excited and terrified about where this road might lead. Because this is your road (you built it after all!) you can travel on it at whatever speed you want to. You can run full speed ahead without looking back, or maybe you prefer to take your time and slowly explore everything along the way.
Where would you like this new road to take you? Who would you like to travel alongside you as you journey down this road? Again, because this is your road, you don’t have to take anybody with you that you don’t want to and nobody can join you unless you invite them. What would you like to see along the journey down your road? What activities would you most like to take part in now that you’re no longer behind that wall?
Maybe you’re someone who has been building a thick, sturdy wall instead of a tall one. This type of wall might make a good bridge if you tipped it over, helping you cross deep, scary trenches. Maybe you’ve been in those trenches before and your bridge gives you safe passage now. Where would you like your bridge to take you? What would you like your bridge to connect you to? What would you leave behind as you cross your bridge? How would you feel about leaving those things behind?
If your wall is too tall or too thick, and you can’t imagine stepping out from behind it right now, what if you choose to remove a brick or two? What is the first thing you would hope to see? Every brick has a story, or reason, for being added to your wall. What is the first brick you would like to work on removing from your wall? Although your wall has been helpful in many ways, what annoys you about your wall?
Feel free to reflect on the questions here and comment with your thoughts about the emotional walls we build or comment about your own wall you’ve built.
Post inspired by the daily prompt: Brick