How We Wall Ourselves In

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We all have the ability to create various spaces for ourselves. These spaces have the potential to be similar to a thriving and comfortable home, or they can be volatile and debilitating. So recently I’ve been watching the show “Hoarders”, and it always fascinates me how people can accumulate so much stuff. If you’ve ever seen the show, you’ll notice that most of these people, in the most extreme cases, have filled up every room of their home with “stuff”, and they assign meaning, value, and/or purpose to each and every item.

Each item is connected to a memory, a person, or a feeling. Whenever they think about throwing something away, they are unable to do so. It makes them feel like they are experiencing a tragic loss. They hyperventilate, they become irrational, they become angry, they become distant, they cry, they shout, they curse, they lash out, they shutdown, they revert back to old habits, and at times they find it within themselves to grow. From the outside looking in, the hoarding is absolutely disgusting. The trash, the infestations of insects and rodents. The piles upon piles of junk that has collected, all manner of bacterial growth and residue. The rancid smells. Homes that have fallen into despair. Relationships that have been destroyed. But on a deeper level the hoarding of the items represents something bigger. It represents for the hoarder that they are creating a space in which they feel safe, they feel protected, and they feel in control.

By never releasing anything, they maintain their power. By building up these impossible mounds of “stuff”, they have created a fortress of sorts. As I watched hour after hour of this show, I really started to look at the family dynamics, and then at the patient. I would routinely ask myself, “what was the trigger?”. Most stuff in life is cyclical, or in other words, we see things occurring in cycles. Such is the case with hoarding. Something happens that negatively triggers the hoarder, and they respond by “walling” themselves in. In a similar fashion, people can hoard emotions, ideas, desires, limiting beliefs, stress, uncertainty, and doubt. Today, we’re going to discuss how we wall ourselves in, and take a look at how we can begin the process of redefining the spaces that we occupy. 

Let’s build a wall 

When we are growing, especially as children, we are seeing the world and learning how to move through life. We can each experience the same or similar things and have very different and real opinions. Success and the feeling of winning, are great teachers. Right, they help us to lock in that sensation of overcoming. But the real teacher, the one that makes the most lasting impression is pain and defeat. When something hurts us, we try to figure out every way that we can avoid that sensation again. The feeling of pain is the body’s way of attempting to protect itself. We hear the analogy of the child touching the hot stove. Once they touch it and get burned, they usually are a lot more careful not only around the stove, but anything that generates heat or a flame. The pain taught this significant lesson, and that can just be from a very mild burn. We can even learn from the pain or fear of others, and we can translate that into our own lives if we’re not. careful. If my parents were afraid of water, because they nearly drowned as kids, I too might be fearful of water and drowning. So, I never take the time to learn to swim.

Other types of pain that we can experience can be spiritual, mental, or emotional. There can be pain through our decision making. This causes us to doubt ourselves, leads us to practice self-sabotage, leads us to reduce our life goals, leads us to enter a state of hypersensitivity. Hypersensitivity is when we become excessively aware of everything happening around us. Growing up in an area that was prone to street robberies, I don’t walk down dark alleys. I don’t walk through groups of people. I try to time when I’m about to reach a street corner with the right time to be able to cross it, so I don’t have to stop. If I hear people arguing in the distance, I try to keep track of where they’re going in case they start shooting. I’m always ready to run because my life depends on my ability to perceive and accurately react to danger. 

The way that we build walls is much like the way that people begin hoarding. Something bad happens to us. We decide we’re never going to let that happen again. To prevent it we have to be a certain way. We choose behaviors that we believe will deliver safety, stability, and love. And we repeat them over and over again. What begins to happen is that we are sheltering in place, so that we can protect ourselves from what we perceive “might” happen. I place a lot of emphasis on “might” because while it is good to plan for multiple outcomes, sometimes we have to scale that down to what is reasonable. The brain does not recognize what is real and what we’ve imagined. That big ole movie factory in our head just gets stressed out all the same. There are good walls to be built such as love, compassion, gratitude, humility, knowledge, and service. This is the type of home I work to create, maintain, and move within in my mind. I am the observer, and I am what is permanent. The scenery is everything else, and the scenery is ever-changing. As you take inventory of your life, your goals, your dreams, the reality of where you are versus where you could be, you really have to consider what kind of walls you’ve built up inside of your head. 

Maybe you are or will be the first in your family to do something, do it anyway! Do it scared. Do it nervous. Do it anxious. Do it frustrated. Do it with joy. Do it with passion. Do it with purpose. Do it with the mindset that it’s working for your higher good. Do it with the understanding that even if you fail, you’re failing forward. You’re learning and developing yourself along the way, so that when it’s time for you to do it again, you’re not starting from scratch. It is so much harder to build those self-affirming walls. The negative walls go right up, even if you’ve never been good with your hands, those negative walls just go right up.

Soon as you start to think about developing yourself, educating yourself, investing in yourself, stretching who you are, here come those negative walls. Reminding you that it’s never worked before. You don’t know anyone doing this. If it doesn’t work out everyone will laugh at you. This could be the biggest failure of your life. What is that you think you’re really going to change anyway. The negative thoughts can be endless! I promise if you gave yourself 45 seconds to right down everything that has, is, or will go wrong in your life you might get a hand cramp before you run out of time. But on the flip-side, if I asked you to do the same thing but talk about all the good that has, is or will happen in your life, you’d really have to do a lot of thinking to get that list knocked out. And that is the purpose of today’s message, we have to redefine the way that we see ourselves, and the life that we are trying to create. No one is going to come along and just make your life better. There are people that we can attach ourselves to, that can help us to get into rooms we wouldn’t have been invited in, and we can ride their coattails. But there is nothing, and I promise you this, there is nothing like experiencing success when you know you’ve done your best work. When you know you’ve reached down, deep deep deep, almost to an ancestral place to affirm, manifest, and produce some of the best work of your life. That is a profound accomplishment. 

Many people will never experience this. The first reason is that you have to be willing to enter uncharted territory. Uncharted territory comes with risks and no guarantee of a reward. Can you imagine giving something your all and not knowing how it would turn out? I mean really going all out, not worried about any sacrifices, not worried about anything, if you could just sink yourself into your life’s purpose, but the only catch is you won’t know if it works out until the end. Would you be able to do that? Would you be able to commit to that? Could you be that invested in what it could take to get you from where you are to where you want to be? The reality is that this is not that far from your reach, it’s just something you’ve never done before, so it seems so big. Most people fall into two categories: they know what they want, but not how to get it. Or they don’t know what they want. 

Both of these realities can be perplexing. Almost paralyzing. So, when in doubt ask the following: what is the dream? What am I trying to build? What do I want? 

When you define your dream/vision/purpose, it brings things back into focus. Helping you realize and actualize what it is you’re after. 

When you define what you’re trying to build, it helps you to hone in on what is necessary for the fulfillment of your dream. 

When you define what you want, if helps you to ensure your desires are in alignment with your divine purpose. 

The last thing I want to talk about is “capacity”. Capacity refers to our ability to handle something. In leadership we have a term called “span of control”, and that refers to a commanders maximum capacity to effectively lead their people. Now on average, a leader can effectively lead 3-6 individuals. You will find people who have the capacity to do more, and you’ll find people who have the capacity to do less. If you take a person who has the capacity to lead 500 people and you give them 300, they’ll do great. They may even boost their numbers because of their leadership capabilities. But if you take a person who has the capacity to lead 100 people, and you give them 500, well you’re probably going to be losing 400 people. Growth is not only about attaining the things, the places, or positions that we want. It also requires us to have the capacity to retain these things as well. Without the capacity, we would surely lose them. So as you work towards your growth, and you work towards being better, be sure to focus on developing the capacity of your surroundings. 

As you move through this week, consider what kinds of walls you’ve built up around your life. Are you inviting in growth and expanding your capacity for it. Or have you shut it out?

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Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. 




Hello, My name is Demetrius Latham, Jr. I am a life coach, college lecturer, police officer, martial artist, and IRONMAN Finisher. I strive every day to make decisions that will improve my life and the lives of those around me. I have a B.S. in Justice Administration from the Univ. of Louisville, a M.S. in Justice Administration from Cumberland Univ., and a Ph.D. in Justice Administration from Walden Univ.

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