The Consequences of Building Emotional Walls: My Personal Experience

The Consequences of Building Emotional Walls
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When you build walls to protect yourself from getting hurt, you not only prevent the pain from getting in, but you’re also locking out all the love, the affection, and the care that you so badly crave. I learned that the hard way. 

WHY BUILD WALLS?

As an introverted kid, I was often more involved in my personal fantasy world than in the world around me, I had unique thoughts, ideas, and behaviors that often got me into trouble with the authority figures in my life. And when that happened, I was promptly disciplined in ways that I now know are unethical, unproductive, and also tread the line of abuse. I often had no idea I’d done something wrong until I was kneeling in a small corner of a dark room told to think about what I’d done or reeling from the shock of being slapped in the face without warning. For me, life was unpredictable. At some point, I started to believe that there must be something wrong with me.

The shift began just before high school and only got worst from there. I went from being outspoken and adventurous, a year round athlete and academically gifted, to being quiet and hesitant. I shied away from competition, quit playing my favorite sport, because it started to feel unbearably intense and confrontational. I feared sharing my opinion and I blunted my emotions and my personality, shoving everything down; my feelings, my beliefs, my desires… until there was nothing left of my identity. I began to move to the tune that others wanted me to, afraid that if I deviated from that, I’d be punished. I felt small and worthless, like nothing I did mattered.

So, I stopped trying. I stopped trying to connect with others. I stopped trying to do well in school. And I stopped caring about everything and everyone that was important to me. I put up this invisible barrier between myself and the world to ensure that, no matter what happened to me, nothing would hurt me again.

The Consequences

When I got to college, I lived in pain every single day. I felt disconnected from the world around me. Even worst, I felt disconnected from myself. I could sleep for 10-12 hours a day and still feel tired, eat an entire pizza and still feel hungry, get an A in one of my classes and feel like I was failing, attend a party with 20 of my closest friends and still feel like I was alone. And what hurt the most was the physical tension I felt, in my belly, in my throat, and in my heart. Sometimes, when I got so overwhelmed, I couldn’t breathe. I’d lay down on the cold, marble floor of my dorm room and close my eyes until all the thoughts about how miserable my life was faded away or, if that didn’t happen, until I fell asleep.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe how bad it was. But what I’ve learned in the 14 years I spent studying psychology, is that shutting down your emotions doesn’t change the reality you live in. It only blocks you from seeing the foul truth that lays in front of you. And eventually, something’s gotta give. In time, either your wall will crumble or you will.

 TO BE CONTINUED…

 

 

Nadia <3

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Also, stay tuned for the continuation of this piece: How To Tear Down Your Walls

 

The #1 Goal You Should Set: Find Happiness

I’m a planner. I like to come up with grand ideas and create elaborate roadmaps and programs for how to see my fantasies come to fruition.

Like when I was about 9 years old and swore on my life that my highest calling was to become a Ninja. I mean, I had watched enough Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, and Martial Arts movies to know what sort of rigorous training and trials I would face on daily basis. Needless to say, I was up for the challenge. I even pulled my little brother’s old ninja costume out of storage to symbolize my commitment to the life of a ninja warrior. Of course, working out 1/2 the day and attempting to save the world the rest of the time (where does one even find bad guys to fight!?) took more effort than I’d bargained for. Within 24 hrs I’d given up my jumpsuit and instead parked myself in front of the television where imagining myself as a hero was simpler than actually being one.

Flash forward nearly 25 years later. I still set goals that are somewhat grandiose:

  1. Launch My Own Successful Business
  2. 2. Become A Millionaire Billionaire
  3. Achieve Visible Abdominals w/a Booty Like Beyonce
  4. Gain 1 Million Followers On All Social Channels

Okay, maybe I can bend a little on the abs & booty. I even create elaborate vision boards to help remind me of those goals and how to get there (No, really! Check out my 2017 Vision here).

But the one thing that I think most of us tend to forget is that the goals we set are not the end of the road when it comes to what we’re seeking to obtain in our lives. Let me put it this way. If you think of your life as a journey laid out on a treasure map, your goals are artifacts you collect on the way to the ultimate treasure: Happiness. 

What’s unfortunate is that we tend to focus on the artifacts instead of the treasure. The goals instead of happiness itself. We move through life reaching for things expecting that the day we land on that destinations we’ve coveted for so long will suddenly spark feelings of joy and satisfaction.

The hard truth is that there’s no guarantee that achieving our goals will actually bring us happiness.  That’s not to say that it’s pointless to set goals or that achieving one’s goals can never lead to happiness. Instead, what I’m suggesting is that we change our focus.

Lean In To What Brings You Happiness <3

For a long time, I thought that being an entrepreneur and building my own business would bring me happiness. Boy, was I wrong! It’s difficult and time consuming and until you start selling things, you’re working an overtime job without getting paid a penny! It’s also often discouraging that I’m not as far along as I thought I would be at this point.

And yet, I’m still gungho about building my business. Recently, more than ever before.  Because I made the shift to focusing on Happiness as my #1 Goal. It’s just a psychological shift. But because of this one change, I’ve been able to let go of the idea that I need to be successful before I become happy. And with that idea, the stress, the anxiety, and the uncertainty melted away. At the same time, new ideas, possibilites and opportunities began to flow into my life.

If you’re looking to make this kind of shift in your life, here are a few tips that will help you along the way:

Move Toward Activities That Excite You

Have you ever attended a yoga class and felt like you were at peace with the world afterward? Taken on a fun project at work that made you look forward to your commute to the office? Or hung out with a new group of people that you instantly clicked with? If the answer is yes, then you know what it’s like to engage with activities that bring you good feelings. The problem is that we tend to see these occasions as hobbies and/or leisure, which in most cultures comes secondary to one’s career.

This is SO unfortunate because anything you do for recreation is a piece in the puzzle of how you will ultimately design your happy life. And the cool thing is, there are endless variations for how each one can take shape.

Do you LOVE children? Then you should plan your life in away that allows you to spend more time with them. Become a grade school teacher, become a mom, or perhaps schedule weekly auntie time with your nieces and nephews.

Perhaps your favorite sport in highschool was volleyball, but you haven’t played since you graduated. Join a local rec league for a season to see if it resparks your enthusiasm  or attend a week long tournament in California. You won’t know what fuels your flame until you jump into it.

Personally, I’ve always loved writing and computers. So, a natural outgrowth for me is blogging, creating copy, managing content. Not only did it take me years of testing out multiple career paths and dabbling in online journaling to finally figure it out. But it also took me, letting go of the things that seemed to suck at my life energy.

That brings me to the next suggestion:

Move Away From Activities That Feel Heavy

Most of us have one or two things at work or in our personal lives that we tend to shy away from, procrastinate on, or that simply feel unpleasant. They give you that same sense of dread you see in a kid’s eye when they have to take grandma’s homemade cough syrup or that icky feeling you get when you reach into the moldy, bacteria infested water in that sink full of dishes that’s been piling up for the past two weeks. Just the thought of tackling them makes you wanna throw up a little.

In his recent book I Hope I Screw This Up, Kyle Cease, who facilitates transformation through authentic coaching and humor noted that, we do things on a daily basis that we don’t like because we think we HAVE to do them in order to… fit in, make money, keep our jobs, look good, be successful, etc. But the longer we practice doing those things, the more we become tied to the idea that you have to struggle in order to be happy.

For a while I thought being a dance fitness instructor was part of my future. I did it for several years, and although I was good at it (the ultimate reward of an instructor is seeing her students have fun while working out), I realized that it took a great deal of time and to learn new routines and teach an hour-long high intensity dance session. To top it off, I have asthma, which is normally very well managed. But it took me years to realize that my dance fitness classes took a harsh toll on my body, creating new health concerns. It took a lot of soul searching to finally pull the plug and let that part of my life go. But the rewards were immediate: more time, more energy, and a clarity of mind I hadn’t realized I’d lost while teaching. It brought a sense of freedom that allowed me to think outside the box I’d built to hold my potential career path.

That brings me to my final piece of advice here.

Make Space For An Outcome Outside Of Your Vision

Becoming an online coach has been the center of my world for the past 4 years or so. But with the shift in focus to leaning in to happiness and by letting go of those activities that make me feel heavy, I’ve discovered a new passion: social media. One day, as the studio I work for (Fast Action Training in San Jose, CA) was preparing to launch a new nutrition program, I was compelled to propose a plan for engaging our participants on Facebook. That was five months ago. I’m now being considered for a position as Community Manager. 

Before, I had this idea that the only thing that could make me happy was having my own business. While the business is still on the table, I’ve expanded my vision of happiness and couldn’t be more excited about the new opportunities that are in store for me.

There are likely opportunities in your life that are just waiting to be tapped into it. You can keep your goals, but don’t let them get in the way of living a rich and exciting life. Allow your #1 goal to be finding happiness and who knows what creative ways you’ll find to manifest just that.

Good luck <3

 

 

Nadia

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