Tear Down that Wall!

This morning, I received a phone call from a business colleague with whom I have forged a friendship. During the call, she informed me about her recent illness and shared the challenges that she endured. After hearing about her suffering and subsequent recovery, I said, “Oh honey, I’m so happy that you’re feeling better.”

After my statement, there was a moment of silence after which she replied, “Please don’t call me honey … it’s very condescending!” With those words there was a noticeable shift in her persona.

I must admit … her response took me by surprise, which was probably evident by my silence. The voice in my head screamed, “What the heck just happened? Why were my well-intended wishes met with scorn?” I had no idea what elicited her response.

I often refer to those with whom I feel close as “honey” or “sweetie”, but it is never said disrespectfully and is always an expression of affection.

Respecting her feelings, I apologized and asked what prompted her reaction. She explained that she had many painful experiences in which she was referred to as “honey” in a disparaging way. She said that the expression always hurt her and that no one ever said it with kindness. The word was a pain trigger so she built a wall.

We all have life experiences that stir up emotions and drive our reactions. And when pain is present, it is a natural response to self protect and block out any possible source. But what happens when this becomes our modus operandi?

Sometimes these walls of protection are useful, however, they can, over time, act like shells that block out happiness.

This woman in an attempt to eliminate the negative, the bad experience, also blocked out the good, the kindness, the love. By asking me (any probably many others) to stop offering her affection, she barred affection from entering her life. And, without the good, she is left with only the bad. This is something we all do in one way or another!

We all have been hurt and have felt pain. But, every time we build a wall in self-preservation to keep us safe, we stop the positive from entering, too. We keep ourselves so insulated that nothing penetrates the exterior. In our attempt to stay safe, we stay isolated. And, that is no way to live.

It’s not easy to tear down our wall, especially after being hurt. But, it is a necessity if we are to live life to the fullest. Isolating, keeping affection from entering, blocking kindness and love, only leads to more misery.

Isn’t it time to tear down your wall? It won’t be easy. It will be a laborious task sometimes requiring outside assistance. But, brick by brick you can remove the barrier. And who knows, you just might be able to use the pile of stone to build a foundation for something solid and welcoming.

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