“Paper Walls” Marc Cohn
Sitting at my computer I wanted to compose something meaningful and intelligent so that it would stimulate discussion. I found I couldn’t write a word. Writers block? Too easy. It was deeper. It felt like a granite wall was in the way of creative flow. When I checked in with this wall, my wall, I realized that it was voicing all my lifelong insecurities: “I’ll be judged,” “it’s going to be stupid,” “who cares anyway.” As I contemplated the feeling, I also realized the wall served a positive function. It was a protection against hurt and anxiety. In other words, if I didn’t act, nothing “bad” would happen. I couldn’t be criticized. I couldn’t look foolish. I would be safe. Psychological walls have this function. They are a primitive (childlike) solution to perceived threat. Rejection cannot occur. The flush of shame is avoided. The internalized negative messages are not activated.
Yes, psychological walls originate from primitive sides of ourselves. They may have served us temporarily when we were young, but as adults they undermine our relationships, our confidence, our happiness, and our success. We have to update our coping skills to “tear down these walls” and take the opportunity to reveal ourselves through intimacy, creativity, friendship, and generosity. The initial step is awareness. Follow my lead at the beginning of this piece. When you are stuck, blocked, distant, check in with the feeling inside. It might feel like the wall I encountered or it might be some other metaphorical manifestation. Find out what it is telling you. Find a way to use adult and not primitive approaches to overcome the block you feel.
The title of today’s show is “Walls and Other Boundaries.” Let’s examine the boundary part. Psychological and physical boundaries are necessary for our well being. We must learn to use words like “No,” “Not Now,” “Please Knock,” “I need time and or space,” to name a few. To someone else a boundary may feel like a wall. But if boundaries aren’t rigid. If they are not expressed to avoid contact with someone who is close then they provide a perfect barrier to maintain integrity. If boundaries are semi-permeable, as opposed to rigid, then flow in relationships, work, play, and intimacy can continue. Learning the difference between walls created from childhood wounds and that no longer function for you as an adult and boundaries expressed consciously to maintain integrity is the work of growth we all must do.
Let’s hear from you. Are your walls paper thin or are they as hard as stone? Would you like some coaching to “tear down your walls?” Or to learn when to “hold them and when to fold them,” as Kenny Rogers sang. Talk with Dr. Ike about psychological walls–yours and those used by the people you love. And, of course, recommend your music. We will be happy to play them.
“Behind the Wall” Tracy Chapman
“Across the Great Divide” The Band
“The Child In Us” Enigma