Walls – they surround us every day. We live and work within walls and they protect us from the elements, keeping threats locked safely outside. Right now, we can all really relate to walls, as we sit hunkered down in our homes riding out the coronavirus pandemic.
Dear reader, today I'm inviting you to consider walls as much more than just a physical barrier. Walls also act in many ways as an emotional safety net.
Think about the situations when you put up an emotional wall – maybe it’s in a relationship when you’re on the verge of really taking the plunge, or the moment you come face-to-face with the possibility of succeeding in a huge way in your career or business, maybe it happens when the world gets a little too close to the “real” and vulnerable version of who you are.
When was the last time you built a protective wall?
Over time, I've become aware of the situations where I put up barriers – the common factor in each is vulnerability – when I'm in a position where I need trust someone else and the times when I have skin in the game and feel like I could lose something big.
What situations drive you to build walls? Do you recognize a pattern? Does it happen at work, at home, with people you love, or do you notice it happening somewhere else entirely?
When you think about these situations, what emotions come up? The patterns you notice provide insight into the moments when you feel compelled to hold back. One small ‘a-ha’ inkling of awareness can shine a light on fear, vulnerability, or other emotions that play a role in limiting your potential.
What’s In It For You?
Like physical walls, emotional walls are built for protection. They maintain the comfort zone and set a mental and emotional boundary. Cross the line, you tell yourself, and you may be in danger. Our comfort zones wrap us in a cocoon of blissful ignorance, hence the term – they’re comfortable and they feel safe.
The problem with getting too comfortable is that sooner or later, comfort becomes constricting. Life grows stagnant and suffocating, boredom creeps in and creativity dies, all the while, you’re robbing yourself of your full potential and calling.
Breaking down walls brings freedom to explore beyond your boundaries and experience something new and different. All new things eventually become normalized and once lived, are no longer intimidating or unfamiliar. Breaking through barriers can increase productivity, inspire creativity, and fosters adaptability. Once you break through, it becomes easier to move beyond the next boundary.
Moving past limiting boundaries is often about finding the courage to move into uncharted territory. Conquering new domains requires intention and effort. Start breaking down your walls with small steps:
Visualize your wall as if it were a tangible, physical thing. Picture it in your mind’s eye: Is it made of brick, iron, or wood? Is it covered with ivy or roses? Is it forbiddingly tall or just a small hedge that you can easily scale? What will it take for you to break through the wall? Can you envision taking a sledgehammer to it, or maybe a chainsaw or set of hedge clippers? Imagine physically breaking through your barrier and stepping through to the other side. What lies beyond the wall? Survey your kingdom and see yourself arising from the encounter standing tall and strong – victorious.
Our angels and demons are often opposite sides of the same coin. The things that cause hesitation also have the potential to move us on to tremendous growth if we only pause to recognize and acknowledge the potential catalyst for progress that they are.
Sure, moving into uncharted territory is scary - new experiences and people can feel unsafe at first. We build walls so we have a place to shelter safely tucked within.
Caution is a great – and necessary – instinct. It has ensured survival of the species and has protected you in many different situations, but it’s a fine balance. Too much risk avoidance can come between where you are today and getting the things you really, really want out of life.
Today is the day, you decided to attack just one wall that is holding you back from something you deeply desire, but also fear.
What would it be?
What would you say to the guardian at the wall? What would you do differently than you do today? How would it change your job, goals or relationships?
Sometimes it only takes one small thing to spark the change that transforms your future. Grab your hammer – it’s time to tear down that wall.