If you have spent the past years of your life behind a brick wall in an effort to protect yourself by keeping all of the bad things at bay, you obviously have good reasons for doing so. Perhaps your experience with other people and situations at various periods in your life has taught you that without a wall or several walls, you will become too vulnerable, open for more hurt, disappointments, and failures. I believe that there is a kind of instinctual wisdom in establishing boundaries in our lives. Creating boundaries is a very necessary task in maintaining our overall well-being. Doing so can be one way we go about taking care of ourselves as we navigate the journey of our lives with all of its twists, turns, valleys, hills, and dead ends. So, yes, it makes sense that you might be living your life behind walls that seem to offer a sense of safety and security. But, what if instead of walls, you could use a different kind of figurative boundary such as a screened door?
Maybe, for you, having that brick wall up has been about keeping yourself safe and maybe it has served you well in many ways, but you’ve begun to notice that you still are not as happy or fulfilled as you would like to be. I would suspect that part of the problem might be actually embedded in the way you have gone about trying to protect yourself from the cruel outside world. (Fill in the blank with your own particular reason). While there is wisdom in creating boundaries after life alarms have gone off and made us aware that we need to do something to protect ourselves, we have to be careful to attend to the kind of boundary we are putting up. Brick wall or screened door?
Living your life behind brick walls is living blindly. While it will likely keep the “bad” things out, it will almost certainly also keep the “good” from coming in. You may dodge a bullet with a person who was bad for you, but you may also miss out on an opportunity with a person who was great for you. Your wall of “not caring enough to try” may keep you from ever experiencing the pain and disappointment of rejection and criticism, but it will also keep you from ever experiencing the confidence and sense of accomplishment that comes from giving yourself a shot. In these instances, it is EITHER this, OR that. With only those limited choices, it is possible that you will find yourself getting by ok in life, but with a sense that something is missing from your experience. Discontent.
Alternatively, a screened door offers more options for living a more fulfilled life and I think, more ways for you to experience yourself more wholly. The most significant difference between walls and doors is that doors can swing open and shut. This means that they are capable of both allowing and denying access, making doors a lot less confining than walls. You can let things in and let them out. You can also keep things from coming in and from leaving out. But, I have suggested a screened door. Here’s why. The screened door is still a door, an effective boundary that can serve to protect by keeping unwanted things out, but it allows you to do what you cannot with walls or even doors without a viewing capacity-be critically selective.
Screened doors allow you to honor your instinctual wisdom to establish a sense of safety and to take care of yourself while also giving you the option to see, observe, and be selective about the “who’s and what’s” you let in. That way, you reduce the chances of missing out on good opportunities, good people, a solid relationship, or the chance to do what truly fulfills you.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.