Surrounding yourself with a wall will keep people away, leave you alone and make you difficult to be in relationship with. Leave the walling off to houses, not people. Examples of emotional walls that people keep around themselves include:
• A wall of words: A wall of words is going on and on in your explanation about things, without making room for the other person to respond, join in or participate equally in the conversation. A wall of words is a one-way conversation whose sole purpose is to be heard and, usually, agreed with.
• A wall of anger: A wall of anger is used to intimidate, control and bully others into doing things your way or agreeing with your perspective. The person raging has no regard for the impact his/her rage has on the other person. A wall of anger can also be a constant simmering that leaves others walking on eggshells around the angry person. When the wall of anger is present, everyone had better GET OUT OF THE WAY!
• A wall of defensiveness: A wall of defensiveness is refusing to take accountability for your actions or acknowledging and apologizing for the hurt you caused. Defensiveness pushes others away in order to “protect” the defensive person’s ego at the expense of relationship and connection. No matter what feedback is given, the person with a wall of defensiveness will bat it away with explanations, corrections, rationalizations or blame.
• A wall of silence: A wall of silence is often used in times of difficulty or upset. During these times, the person refuses to engage, on any level, with the other person and “shuns” him/her. If they do respond, the response is a one word, cold, walled-off response that sends the message that they are not speaking.
• A wall of invulnerability: A wall of invulnerability shows up as sharing very little about yourself emotionally, spiritually or even physically. You may minimize difficult events, steer clear of “weakness” or emotions and are often stoic and distant. This type of wall leaves others feeling lonely and disconnected from you.
As you can imagine, living with any of these walls can be very difficult. The bottom line is you can’t hug a wall—it’s too damn hard and cold. Communication is key for relationships to function well; walls make communication all but impossible. If you find yourself walling off someone in your life, push yourself to let down your walls and respectfully have the hard conversation. Walling off is seldom the answer to living a great life. Take a deep breath and speak your truth respectfully, clearly and succinctly. If you don’t get what you want, don’t shut down, blow up or talk incessantly. Instead, be mindful, not reactive. Own your truth, accept the no and be proud of yourself for staying in it.
Challenge: Pay attention to the walls you and others erect every day. Commit to stop using walls to protect yourself and instead use healthy boundaries (https://lisamerlobooth.com/boundaries_in_r/) while having difficult conversations.