Category: Interviews

“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

4 thoughts on “Walls and Other Boundaries

  1. Some days when I don’t want to face an emotionally charged task I just do nothing but read and play old familiar songs on my computer. I distract myself from worrying about not having gotten THE job done that way. Then I say too myself “don’t feel guilty about it because after all no job got done by me today!” LOL surfing the internet is another thing I do to make it too late to tackle the chore.

  2. Another deeply provocative topic! As with interdependence and finding the right balance there, the issue of boundaries for me has been so very fraught with disappointment and worse.

    I was walled in to the point of water-tightness as a child and young man. I felt protected, yes, but so lonely and isolated sometimes.

    I opened my gates, and…it was the worst thing I ever did! I never knew pain, heartache, and ANGER until I foolishly let down my guard.

    I’m frankly at a loss as to how to proceed. I’m in a relationship, but I can’t get traction in setting boundaries, and so I’m not really there a lot of the time, if u know what I’m saying. Divorced twice already, so I’m not going the marriage route again, I can assure you.

    I’m not quite old enough to run out the clock, so to speak, but old enough to feel a lot of regret and disappointment and fatigue.

    A lot of wreckage in my past. Disasters proximately caused by conscious efforts to find intimacy and by failed efforts to negotiate boundaries.

    Not sure I’ll ever figure it out, but in keeping with last week’s theme it’s one day at a time in this existence. One day at a time.

    As Kenny Rogers (not Glenn Campbell) sang: “You’ve got to…know when to walk away, know when to run”

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Spivey, thanks for the correction. I sometimes think they are same guy, that is Glenn and Kenny are. As to your comment, we all have troubles negotiating boundaries. Only through experience and self-knowledge and listening to our own inner wisdom (remember Dr. Richard Schaub. He published a book entitled “Dante’s Path,” about how we can find our inner wisdom and how to pay attention to it and let it serve us ). I like your one-day-at-a- time approach. Here’s Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj4nJ1YEAp4

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