i remember, as a child, waiting for others to make the first step... waiting for attention to be given to me, waiting for others to show love or friendship. I was too "shy" to take the first step. I was afraid of being rejected. So I built a persona that literally broadcasted "I don't need you. I am very self-sufficient."
This attitude was prevalent in my childhood. My mother once told me that my first words were not "mommy" or "daddy", they were "I can do it!" I now understand that this statement was my defense against the feeling that I was not needed or wanted. It was my way of saying "I don't need you!" So rather than be honest about my need to receive attention and love, I built a wall that said "O.K. if you don't want me...I'll show you! I don't need you either. I can do it all myself."
Living Behind a Glass Wall
This has carried over to my "adult" life where I demonstrated (or so I thought) that I didn't need others. I could do it myself. Yet, I discovered that living behind a glass wall can be lonely. You can see the others out there, yet you somehow remain separated from them. They also see you, but find it difficult to connect with you.
My belief was that no one had time for me. So what did I find on the other side of my wall? Other people who had no time for me (just as I expected) or people who thought that I had no time for them and thus left me alone.
You too may be living behind a wall that you have built. Your wall may be called "I'm not good enough, so leave me alone" or "No one understands me or loves me, so don't even try" or other such self-defeating attitudinal walls.
Glass Walls Magnify the Negative
These glass walls have a way of magnifying the negative. The world seems like a terrible place on the other side. Yet whatever you see through the wall is only the reflection of what you have been projecting. If your wall is one of "I'm not good enough", perhaps what people see on your side of the wall is a person who seems aloof and not very friendly. Consequently, they stay away since you do not seem to be welcoming any friendships.
Is there a way out of that predicament? Yes!!! We can start by letting down our defenses, and making ourselves vulnerable by being willing to trust others and ourselves. Affirm: "I am now open to give and receive love. I feel love in me and around me." Repeat to yourself, much as someone would repeat a mantra, "It is safe to give and receive love", "It is OK to ask for what I need" and "It's perfectly alright to show my feelings without knowing what the response will be".
This opening of the cocoon is an ongoing process. I find that, for me, the important thing is to stay focused in the heart, to feel my heart expanding and opening towards those around me. The fear of being "thought a fool" still comes up now and then, yet I am aware that only by "risking" and showing my feelings will others feel safe in opening their hearts and showing me theirs.
Someone Needs to Take the First Step
When two people are encased behind their respective walls, someone needs to take the first step and step out from behind their defenses so that communication and honesty can take place. Since I cannot ask of others what I do not ask of myself, I take the first step and come out from behind the wall of my fears. Will you join me, so we can play together and celebrate life?
I invite you to abandon your defenses and to become, once again, as vulnerable as a newborn child. Together we can do it! Don't wait for others to make the first step... They may be waiting for you!
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by Brad Blanton, Ph.D.
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About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com