Boundaries are necessary for all of us, but sometimes we can have too many.
Chances are if you grew up in a family that didn’t have a lot of boundaries, you want them now. Or if you have ever been in a relationship where you felt like you were disrespected most of the time, then it makes sense that you would build some walls around your heart.
Protecting ourselves, saying no, and having clear boundaries is important part of caring for ourselves. But if this isn’t balanced with also being open to receiving love and support from others and ourselves, then it can be too much. Reinforcing fear and a sense of feeling unsafe, even after the hurtful relationship has ended.
10 Signs You Have Too Many Emotional Walls
So how do you know if you have too many emotional walls? Let’s explore the possible ways this can show up in relationships. Without judging yourself, just notice which of these signs sounds true for you. Do you…?
- Over-stay in relationships that aren’t good for you
- Think you aren’t worthy of receiving love and respect because of past mistakes you’ve made
- Block support and help from others who are loving
- Disappear from “good” relationships instead of speaking up if something isn’t working for you
- Feel lonely but not reach out or make invitations to others
- Assume others aren’t good for you before you get to know them
- Project a strong, all together image even if you are struggling inside
- Distract yourself with your phone or tasks instead of being fully present
- Have overly high expectations for others in an attempt to protect yourself from ever being hurt again
- Focus more on finding the “right” friend or partner instead of on connecting with others.
If you resonated with a few of these signs, then I invite you to pick 1-2 emotional walls you would like to shift over the next 6 months. Then, use the following journaling prompts to gain clarity and courage to take the next step.
Journal Prompts for Self-Discovery
I believe we cultivate within first what we want to see on the outside. We don’t have to perfect or all done growing to open up to love and respect in relationships, but we do need to love ourselves enough to open up to what’s possible in relationships that are good for us.
Here are some journal prompts to help you identify the support and feeling you want to invite in, so you can begin taking down your walls:
- How does it feel when you have your walls up in relationships? (Consider both how your body and emotions feel.)
- How would it feel to not need so many emotional walls in relationships? (Again consider both how it would feel in your body and emotions.)
- Now, what do you need to hear (from yourself) in order to open yourself to receiving more support in respectful relationships?
- Or, if you don’t have many mutually supportive relationships, what do you need to hear from yourself to be more open to co-creating this kind of relationship?
Remember how you want to feel and what you need to hear from yourself when you are in the process of creating mutually supportive relationships. And know you are always a resource for yourself even when you are leaving challenging relationships or entering new ones.
And most of all, you never need to take down your walls in relationships that are abusive, manipulative, or chronically disrespectful. But you may need to open up to yourself. Be honest about how you feel in your relationships, and how you’d like to feel. Then open up to the support you may need to shift out of what isn’t working for you. Because you are worth it!
Marci Payne, MA, LPC is a psychotherapist and women’s empowerment coach. She helps ambitious people create lives and relationships they love from the inside out. For more information on individual counseling for burnout, relationships, or divorce recovery, schedule a free 15-minute phone call with Marci. And determine if she is the best counselor to help you decide if your relationship can be redesigned or if you need to let it go.