For the past few months we have been very busy at our house revamping and rebuilding. Walls have been broken down and other walls have been built. This morning I woke up and wondered when my husband was planning to erect the next wall of our revamp project. This sent my thoughts along another pathway. I started thinking about the concept of walls. There has been a lot of talk in recent months about erecting walls as a barrier between countries.
The oldest walls in the world discovered thus far are the walls of the temple of Gobekli Tepe in Southeast Turkey. The longest wall in the world is the great Wall of China which is 8850 km in total with its mainline length measured at 3460 km long. It is also the largest man-made barrier. Excalibur in Holland is the tallest free-standing rock-climbing wall in the world. Walls have a variety of purposes. Traditionally they have been built to protect a city or demarcated area from dangers and attacks from other tribes or countries. Walls are an important part of a people's defense systems. Walls also provide privacy and regulates entry into an area. Walls can have an impact on the safety of a country as well as on its economics.
However, more important than physical walls are the walls we as individuals build. Most people have some or other figurative wall around themselves. The walls we erect are usually in direct correlation to our upbringing, our life experiences and our fears and expectations. Every time we are hurt or disappointed we add some bricks to our wall, it is a natural defense mechanism.
Children usually have very low walls around themselves, and they usually care little for the walls of other people, easily clambering all over them. They have not yet been conditioned by hurt or pre-conceived ideas. They look at the world with wide-open, expecting-miracle eyes. As they grow older, however, they start to build a shelter one brick, one tear at a time.
Building a wall is not necessarily a bad idea. In fact, in the world we live in today it is important to know our boundaries and to let other people know our boundaries as well. It gives us a safe place and protects us from the dangers of the world. We have to be careful, however, how we build our walls. If our walls becomes an impregnable fortress it could do more harm in the long run. Walls can isolate us from the world and its beauty, it can cut us off from progress and stifle our growth. Walls can impede our freedom and eventually we can become prisoners behind our own walls. We could loose out on friendship and love, and we may become lonely and embittered. Emotionally we will starve and even miss out on our life's purpose.
Just as we get different types of bricks in the building trade, we get different emotional bricks as well. There are the bricks we have built to protect us against rejection, betrayal, abuse, disappointment, heartache, grief and low self-esteem to name a few.
Rejection can often hurt as much as physical pain, therefore we tend to build very strong walls to protect ourselves against feelings of rejection. The bricks we use to erect this wall consist of convincing ourselves that we are worthless and that we are outsiders, thus we withdraw from the people around us and conversation with others. We refrain from taking part in group activities and shy away from meeting new people.
Betrayal creates a sense of loss. We do not only loose trust in the person who betrayed us, but we start to view other people with suspicion too. We build our wall with bricks of distrust. Our faith in justice is shattered.
Abuse leads to anxiety and depression. We often react with anger towards people who want to reach out to us. We lock our hearts away behind a wall of hostility often believing attack is the best form of defense.
All of us experience disappointment at some stage of our lives. However, many people cannot deal with the effects of disappointment. Sometimes a person has been disappointed so often that building a wall against those feelings seems like a good option. We hide behind a wall of apathy and indifference, pretending not to care. We become passive observers in life. We deny having expectations and we give up on our goals and dreams. We build our wall with bricks of fear, and we withdraw to the land of 'I-Don't-Care'.
Heartache can make us physically ill. It can bring on depression and we can even start doubting ourselves. The walls we build to protect us against heartache is often the strongest walls of them all. We fortify them by lashing out, aggression, revenge and withdrawal from the people who love us and who want to help us.
A loss of anything important can lead to feelings of grief and we build walls around ourselves in an effort to hide our sadness from the world. We withdraw into a cocoon of grief. We believe that being alone will help us heal, sometimes we even deny our feeling to ourselves. Often we lash out in anger to anyone who wants to come too close. We build walls of around us to such an extent that people believe we are coping when in fact everything is falling apart behind the walls.
Another wall we build is the one which hides a low self-esteem. Having a good self-image is important to our overall happiness, values and goals. It impacts every area of our lives. However, many people suffer from a poor self-image due to various factors. We instinctively know that it is vital for survival to hide our own low self-esteem from the outside world and thus proceed to build walls to keep prying eyes out. We often hide our poor self-image behind sarcasm or bullying others. We hide it behind hurtful words. Those with a low self-esteem often neglect themselves and make poor life-choices. They withdraw from people and shy away from anything new. They constantly fear that other people might discover their weakness and expose their vulnerability.
Whatever wall it is you are hiding behind, it is up to you to break it down. Physical walls can be bulldozed, the walls of Jericho came down with faith and music and the Berlin wall tumbled because people stepped up and took a stance, but the wall we build around our hearts can only be demolished by self-will. Take a moment and evaluate your fortress. Ask yourself if it is really protecting you, keeping you safe or are you actually a prisoner behind it? If the answer is the latter, then take it down, one brick at a time. You'll be amazed to see the sunlight falling over the beautiful valley stretching out into your future.