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Posts Tagged ‘building walls’

Flight is one of those technological feats that still amazes me. I don’t get to fly often, but when I do I love to look out the window and watch the world below shrink and change. The earth’s topography becomes apparent and the clouds are a new kind of sea. As you fly high above the earth and among the clouds, it can seem that you’re hardly moving although you’re travelling at much faster speeds than the toy cars below.

Relationships can be similar to a flight spent watching out the window. There will be times when it seems as though a relationship has stalled, isn’t moving forward, or deepening as quickly as we’d expect. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but deep relationships are not instantaneous. They’re built over time. Sometimes they deepen quicker than we realize, and other times we realize just how quickly they’re deepening. It depends solely on the two people in the relationship and your perception of it.

On a flight, looking out a window can reveal three degrees of thickness within the clouds–the thin, nearly-transparent layer that allows glimpses of the earth below; the smooth, semi-opaque, semi-transparent white; and the completely opaque, fluffy peaks of hand-whipped cream. We all have these three degrees of thickness within us, whether as clouds or walls or something else. The degrees will vary from person to person, as will how careful we are about which layers of ourselves we allow others to see.

The thin, nearly-transparent layer of clouds are the parts of who you are that you show right away. It’s usually not a lot, but it gives those you’re meeting for the first time or don’t know well that first taste of your personality. They’re hints of that true person deep inside you. Through these layers, glimpses of the roots of who you are can be seen, though never clearly. The roots of who we are permeate our lives, and others are able to catch glimpses of that, like glimpsing the earth through the clouds on a flight.

The smooth, semi-opaque, semi-transparent white clouds usually sit lower in the sky. When we start to trust someone, we allow them to see this layer of ourselves. At this point, we are starting to trust that new friend with who we are, beginning to open up to them. It’s just enough of a taste that we can make a better decision on who to pull closer and who to keep at an arm’s length. At this point, we learn who is accepting of who we are and who might be skeptical or likely to use those things against us.

The opaque, fluffy peaks are the highest and thickest walls we build. We use these walls to keep most people from glimpsing who we truly are, keeping them at bay because we don’t know for sure we can trust them. We all have layers upon layers of these walls, building up as the peaks of the fluffy clouds do. One cluster of these walls we use to hide our deepest secrets, keeping them tucked away. Only a very select, privileged few get to see beyond these walls, to the heart of our fears.

Yet like a flight, like watching those clouds drift slowly by, relationships take time to develop and deepen. We must continue through regardless of the pace it seems things are going, because things we can’t see are always happening under the surface. We must take the time to get to know another person. The patience and time spent will be rewarded when you finally see the true person behind the mask. But relationships are not always smooth. They will hit some turbulence. You must expect both that and a little trouble throughout the flight, although these should not be long-winded. If you endure, it is truly all worth it in the end.

 

Yes, the world may tilt out of shape, may become first closer and then farther away or even disappear altogether, but beneath the trouble and those layers of clouds is something truly beautiful to behold and explore.

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Part 3 of my Communications Series.

Part 1                       Part 2

 

In Part 2, we talked about reaching out to others and intentionally doing so.  However, that’s just a starting point. At the start of a relationship, things tend to be around surface level: asking how the day was, talking vaguely about family, friends, and life. But to reach a deeper level more serious talks need to happen.

Once we’ve established a relationship with someone and have become friends, we can take that relationship deeper by talking about some of the bigger things in life: issues in the world and our views on them, the deeper aspects of our personalities, families, and life.

Many times, conversation will work itself around to these topics, but that doesn’t mean that we’re voicing the extent of our true views and values. A specific topic can come up several times throughout a friendship, and you’re likely to learn new insights and thoughts about each others’ views each time. Part of this comes from us changing/gaining perspectives throughout life, modifying our views and how we understand our values. But it can also come from feeling comfortable enough around someone to show them what we hold dear, deep inside.

Becoming comfortable around another person can happen in a variety of ways: it can be how someone listens or talks, it can take time and familiarity, or many other reasons that people have. The point in both parties feeling comfortable is that it breaks down walls that normally hide certain aspects of our views. These walls are built because of fears we hold. Therefore, for two people to feel comfortable around each other, we need to work at breaking down walls and fears: both in ourselves and whomever we’re hoping to connect with.

In Oneself

In order to break down our own walls, we need to know what they are, where they came from, and what they’re protecting. To know what our walls are, we have to do some self- and/or soul-searching. This can look different for each person, so I’m not going to address it in depth in this post. Many times, however, this comes from reflecting on our interactions with others and in what we decide to share with those we don’t know well.

Next, we need to look back and reflect on our lives. This includes childhood, teen years, and any other experiences we’ve had, whether with strangers, failed friendships, family, etc. With each wall we discover we have, we should take the time to find where it came from and how long we’ve had it. This leads us to the last big thing we need to know.

What am I protecting with this wall? A question we must all ask ourselves, because there is always a reason. Using an area of time the wall formed, can I find a specific memory centered around this fear? The ultimate question here is: What am I so afraid of that I won’t share it with anyone?

In Others

Breaking down our own walls is difficult, but breaking down others’ is more so. With our own walls, we can search through our own experiences and find out why they’re there and what they’re protecting. But with others, we probably don’t know them well enough for that. So we have to be patient and stick by them, waiting for the right opportunity and conversation to pull in some deeper personal questions. However, if we ask deeper questions of another we must be prepared for their questions as well.

And as I mentioned above, there are different things that help break down walls. One of the biggest things for me is someone taking the time to listen to what I have to say without interrupting. It’s someone waiting as I pause to gather my thoughts and form words, someone who doesn’t feel a need to fill the silence. If someone sits and listens, as well as shares about him/herself, I’m more inclined to share who I really am with that person.

The difficult part here is that everyone’s different. So we must be patient.

 

There are many aspects to deep conversations, but something I’ve found is that most of the time they’ll flow naturally from a more lighthearted conversation. We don’t have to force them, but we don’t want to avoid them either. If there’s a point in the conversation where we can insert a deeper question, we should do so and be prepared to respond to whatever he/she has to say. And we should be prepared to answer as well.

But don’t let feeling unprepared stop you from asking a deep question. The most likely thing is that you will have no idea what you’re going to answer to the same question, but you’ll learn about yourself in the process. I’ve been here many times, and it’s helped to deepen some of my relationships to a point where I start to feel as though I’ve known these people forever, rather than a few years or less.

 

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you all about how you’ve experienced deep conversations. Please share below or email me at andi_gregory (at) outlook (dot) com.

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