emotional WALLS

My observation is that most of us have a lot of emotional ~stuff that we have not quite figured out. Stuff that is messy and complicated but likely worth figuring out because it is in some way hindering our ability to find meaning in life.

This—need to figure shit out—is very true of the younger people, but I believe even more (sadly) true of the older people—who at this point have cemented guardian brick walls around their hearts and brains such that changing—like really fundamentally changing core things about themselves and their identity—is near impossible.

You probably have interacted with people where this is the case. You are in a conversation with them and you recognize that THERE ARE NO WORDS YOU CAN USE, AT LEAST THAT YOU ARE AWARE OF, THAT WOULD GET SAID PERSON TO CHANGE THEIR MINDS.

I have recently been involved in a few of those discussions, and in this case with people older than me (it happens with younger people, too, to be clear but I find it often with older people). This prompted me to think about the relationship between age and identity and how openness may wane as you get closer to your identity. That somewhat makes me sad—you would think a counter version of the world could exist where you become more open to learning as time goes on; I do not see that occurring today.

The question I ask myself is wondering whether or not this an inevitability? Does it have to be that as you get older, you become less open to change? Is this a fixed part of life? (And why this matters comes later on)

You may say, well, as I get older, I become more confident in myself as I better understand who I am (and who I want to be).

And you could certainly think of this ~thing as a good ~thing. More confidence means less doubt and less insecurity. This likely stems from nothing other than real, lived experiences (nothing super complicated about it—more time equals more trials and errors).

Pattern matching occurs. As people get older they gather more life experiences which help inform them (in a fairly simple way) “these are things I like” and “these are things I do not like,” and while the path is rarely particularly efficient, eventually they figure out a life of sorts where they can ~basically avoid the things they don’t like doing and spend as maximal time as possible on the things they do like doing.

People often think of this in a more macro sense of like what do people do for work. I do not find this especially accurate because a lot of people, even old people, still do jobs that drain their energy (as opposed to giving them life).

I find the more accurate side to actually be simply looking at how people communicate, what they talk about, and who they surround themselves with. In other words, how they actually live. I think if you were to look at it closely, really, you would find that as people get older they stop surrounding themselves with people who tell them true hard cold feedback and begin to lean closer towards “yes-men” of sorts. They stop being called wrong. They start wanting to be trusted for “experience.”

This becomes life. Reinforcing yourself by whatever means necessary in order to protect your ego from being exposed. Perhaps you are exposed once or twice in your life but that hurts too much—so you hide. Hide behind a wall.

This is their protective wall forming. This is their cage of sorts that as they get older becomes closer and closer engrained into their identity. At some point, the naive cute little human spirit—the thing that just wants to learn and grow—that thing is so far buried that when you have a conversation with them, it is really hard to see what is actually going on in their HEARTS. The wall is up.

Because…well…the emotional sunglasses are on to a degree where you do not know what you are really interacting with. It is basically that you are having two conversations: 1) with someone’s emotions and 2) with the soul inside of that person.

Identifying that those are indeed separate things has been helpful to me in having conversations and understanding other people. Extremely helpful. If I were to repeat a mantra to myself every morning, it’d be that PEOPLE ARE EMOTIONAL CREATURES. IF YOU EXPECT THEM TO ACT RATIONALLY, YOU ARE THE IRRATIONAL ONE.

I used to probably overreact to people’s emotional responses—thinking more about what they said than what the other person actually thought. I got fixated on this. Fixated to a degree that was extremely unproductive. Fixated to a degree that broke me and literally blew my mind.

I used to really really try to analyze everything someone was saying—but now I realize that THEY THEMSELVES do not really know what they are saying because, well, they are being blinded by the emotional sunglasses such that when I respond or give them feedback, their emotional wall has gone up as a form of protection.

I am not even having a conversation with a rational human anymore who could be persuaded by logic. Instead, I am having a conversation with a human who has entered a fight or flight mode. To actually have the conversation, I should discount everything they have to say. They are speaking japanese, I should not pretend it is english. Translating for me is hard but critical.

The other party is not on the same plane as me. Their wall is up. They are in war. They have no interest in participating in a conversation or discussion where their mind is changed. What they care about is safety. They care about being right and not being wrong and they care about their identity being okay. They need to know they are okay. OKAY OKAY OKAY.

This is their priority. As the wall rises, and the higher it rises, the less they can see the ground. The ground is rational. It is always there. It never leaves. And always catches you. But with the wall in front of their eyes, this is not important. What is important is safety. This probably comes from childhood and upbringing. People losing sight of their floor, or their floor being pulled out from under them every so often. This sucks and is unfair but it happens to a lot of people. And thus, they put up their own walls to blind them from thinking about the floor (even writing this sounds silly—you would think the right thing to invest in is structural support, but no, we build higher walls instead of investing in FOUNDATIONS).

Once the wall goes up, it takes a while to come back down. Similarly in war, the front lines do not retreat immediately once it is safe. They look around. They feel around. They make sure the coast is clear. People are still on high-alert for a half-life of sorts (or many) until the wall eventually comes back down.

This is trust. Or we at least call it trust (though that is still a vague term that we should define more explicitly if we were to analyze it). Trust is really core to building relationships with other human beings.

Relationships could be said as situations where someone lets their wall down, at least partially. Some people default have the wall down. Others keep it up all the time. The latter group may do this because of past previous traumatic experiences. With you or more generally. Times where they were fooled. Trojan horsed. Those times leave a scar.

Some people leave their walls down but are really quick to pull them up. Some people’s walls have spikes on them, they hurt if you get too close. Some people have invisible walls of sorts—you think they are down but really they are fooling you.

Being aware of the walls in front of you can help you better build relationships and have conversations with others. If someone’s wall is up, recognizing that will help you avoid further cementing the stone.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to leave space and not try to win the argument. It is annoying in the moment. You have to be patient. It event hurts in the moment because you _think_ you are saying all of the right things. But it is actually making things worse. So yes, relax. As annoying it is—space is a valuable piece of the puzzle.

Now, an aside I will add to the overall commentary is that everything above is framed in the context of interpersonal dynamics aka interactions with other human beings. I think it is worth calling out that most of these dynamics actually start INSIDE OF YOU. The world is a mirror and all. So if you, or in this case I, are so frustrated with the emotional walls of others—I would ask myself, perhaps I am the one walled up. Perhaps I am the one who needs to open the aperture a bit.

And when I did that exploration, it was not easy, but only then did I really start to figure my shit out. Only then did I realize that I am in control of my emotions (and I can be out of control when I want to be). Only then did I accept that I did not need to react if I did not want to. Only then did I find peace in pain.

It took a lot of suffering to get there. Suffering I would not wish on my former self but I would because I know now the prize is ~weirdly life changing (and you cannot take it back!).

So yes, everything written above does address others. But NO, it really is a reflection of myself and my own thinking.