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Day 5. Boundaries & Walls Are Not The Same

Emotional chaos results from a lack of boundaries because of the struggle to retain sense of self as well as veering between being wide open to everything and going to the opposite end and being guarded with walls. This stops you from learning and being discerning. You learn just as little from red-lighting everything as you do from green-lighting everything. Both say, “I don’t trust me”.

Do you know the difference between boundaries and walls? Don’t worry— if you don’t or are unsure, you’re not alone.

In a nutshell, if you’re afraid of being vulnerable and are designing aspects of your life and your habits around limiting the potential for it, you have walls, not boundaries. You’re trying to protect you from a bigger future emotional pain that on some level you anticipate and predict. It’s a fear of trusting you which you may be telling you is fear of trusting of others.

 

Walls are isolating, leaving you fearful, living in the past and emotionally adrift, whereas boundaries are loving and liberating and allow you to be conscious, aware, present and connected.

 

Walls limit the amount of intimacy you experience, but they also cause loneliness even if theoretically, there are people around you who you could be [healthily] getting closer to. Because you’re not allowing you to express your innermost feelings and thoughts to you and also to chosen others, plus you’re not allowing you to be ‘seen’ in the sense of being vulnerable enough to be you, you end up feeling emotionally adrift and even isolated. Love and trust become closely associated with pain, so it all feels too risky.

If you’re scared of allowing you to get close enough to somebody that it might hurt and you’re on guard, defending you, expecting the past to happen all over again and basically feeling distrusting, those walls cause you to experience a level of rigidity in your life.

You’ve put up barriers to limit what you feel are the emotional consequences of trusting (showing up as you, trusting you, trusting others).

 

All threats, both real and imagined, are treated equally, so you’re always coming from a place of fear. For example, if you had to deal with somebody who was passive-aggressive and/or aggressive in childhood, you adopted coping mechanisms to protect you that are then used in adulthood regardless of whether a person is passive, passive-aggressive, assertive or aggressive.

Everything is seen as a potential for pain without recognising that with boundaries, which would give you the space to trust and rely on you, you would be able to give you and others chances, safe in the knowledge that because you are creating healthy boundaries, no one who has boundary issues will be able to get close enough to you to cause damage and especially not on a continuous basis.

When you have a pattern of choosing safe-bet people or situations, it’s part of a pattern that chimes with your beliefs. You get to be ‘right’ even if you also end up being miserable.

 

“Better to keep my walls because people are only going to let me down or hurt me anyway. This way, it won’t hurt as much as it would if I allowed them to get close to me and truly ‘see’ me.”

 

Walls also result from wearing a mask. The most prolific mask amongst people who struggle with having healthy boundaries for themselves is the mask of people pleasing— denying your true self and holding back on your needs, expectations, desires, feelings and opinions resulting in feeling at best, taken advantage of and under-appreciated, and at worst, abused. Passive aggression is another mask habit that hides resentment and frustration.

 

You have barrier habits masquerading as boundaries that are designed to protect you not just from intimacy but from stepping out of an uncomfortable comfort zone.

 

Boundaries are fluid and flexible because they’re tuned into being connected to what is. Walls are rigid and have you boxed-in based on the past because they’re built on anger, pain, blame, shame and fear, to name but a few.

The two fundamental differences between boundaries and walls, though, is that boundaries are helpful, not harmful and are based on relationships, not ego. The ego is misleading and if given too much attention, cuts you off from your true self and those around you, but when you pay attention to who you are and the relationship, you get to decide how you want to show up in that relationship and you get to adjust how much trust you put into it.

The TAKEAWAY

 

  • If you’re not able to come from a place of love, care, trust and respect, then it’s not a boundary.
  • Walls are isolating and punishing because they don’t have a filter.
  • You cannot seek to love and feel loved without being vulnerable. If you go into a relationship with walls, you are opening you up to being in an unavailable relationship because you will gravitate to partners that allow you to remain safe but then have a set of problems that come with that type of relationship.
  • We all have times in life when walls go up, but if you’re conscious about when and where they are, and you don’t erect them for and over an extended period, you cross back into vulnerability.
  • Feeling defensive and afraid in a particular area? Examine why you have that wall up so that you can heal the hurts and judgments from that experience.
  • If your decision is ego-based – look for concerns about power – it’s not going to represent you authentically and will put up walls. If it doesn’t feel as if it reflects your values, but it would give you a short-term fix, that’s your ego. If it’s about trying to take ownership of someone else’s feelings and behaviour (or making someone responsible for yours), that’s also ego, and it will get in the way of you being boundaried.

JOURNALING: Think about relationships where you have wrestled with a fear of letting your true feelings, opinions and in fact self, be known. Can you identify barrier habits that ensured that you felt protected even if you didn’t feel happy? What do you tell yourself? What are the specific things that you do? When you imagine speaking your truth, saying how you feel, being who you are, which fears and judgements come up? What do you think will happen?

TASK: Note any situation that you seem to have on repeat. e.g. same person, different package or same frustrating situation and ending. Use the Releasing Exercise in the resources section to home in on the reasons for your walls and see if you can do a little forgiveness work on you.

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