Here is one of the downsides of walking around guarding yourself. The obstacles you have in place preventing you from giving and receiving love may transfer to people you care about very much.

They have to build their own walls to protect themselves from you.
Remember that they just want love, too. It can be too painful to want love that you are not getting, so they might begin to retreat from you and hide behind their own walls. That doesn’t mean they are silent and withdrawn necessarily. People hide behind all kinds of things…bubbly, funny, calm, dependable…everybody has their own mask and if you know someone well enough, you can feel how that mask is like a cement wall between their tender heart and yours.

That can be especially hard to swallow if you decide you don’t want to block love anymore. You are finally ready to be loved and love, but this person you love so much doesn’t want to let you in.

It can’t always be undone either. All you can really do is work on removing your own blocks and hope that over time you become “safe” and they will be able to trust that you can love them just how they are. But they may not choose that. You can’t make someone bring their wall down. You can’t do it for them. They have to decide to do it themselves.

And boy is it easy to judge yourself for this.
I’ve done that way too many times. I’ve witnessed the way my children have grown to protect themselves and seen how familiar it looks. Too familiar. And if I am honest with myself, it’s not really surprising. I have to turn back towards me in those moments and acknowledge that I’m largely responsible for it. When that was too painful because of all of the guilt and shame that went with it, I would cover it up with a story.

  • Maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s because of this other experience or relationship.
  • He was born like that and has always been that way.
  • It’s probably just his age.

But it’s all just a story.
And I’m not the only one who tells it. People everywhere who have loved from behind a wall have taught the people in their lives how to love “safely” and when faced with the truth of that, made up excuses and rationalizations for it.

And really, it doesn’t matter if they’ve already got their guard up. Like I said, we can’t bring the safe house they’re building down. Only they can.

We can kick and scream and tell them we want them to let us in, but they might not. When we can’t fix the situation we’ve created, it’s tempting to go back to judging ourselves as being the worst parent, spouse, sibling, friend ever. But that is the absolute opposite of what we need to do.

It is because we judged ourselves in the first place that we started to live behind our wall. And it is because we judged others that they began to live behind their walls. All any of us ever really wanted was to be loved and when that love wasn’t given to us freely, we built some protection. We hid safely behind our own mask.

The very first and most important thing we can do is accept ourselves as we are.
Acceptance of all the flaws we have and mistakes we have made. That has to happen in order for us to love ourselves. We need that ability to love ourselves in order to come out from behind our walls to love others. Think about it. If we know that we are lovable and worthy, we don’t need to seek that evidence in someone else’s judgment of us. And the better we get at accepting ourselves, the better we get at accepting other people so that they don’t need their own wall to feel okay with us.

But it starts with us. And as painful as it may be to witness the walls people have built as a response to us, it is the perfect place to begin. Acceptance isn’t only for when we are pleased with ourselves. Acceptance is necessary in every moment, especially the ones we are tempted to be ashamed about. Acceptance and love for ourselves. Acceptance and love for others.


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