By Guest Blogger, Dennis Mathew

PSYCHwallOGY: How do people living behind walls think? What are their thought patterns? My curiosity drove me to ask myself these questions.

“What kind of walls?”, you might ask. Walls of any kind.

Life presents us with walls that are both literal and figurative. To a convicted criminal, the walls of a prison, to a physically ill person, the walls of a hospital, to a person in debt, the mental walls made up by stacks of bills, to a couple going through a rough patch in their marriage, the walls of miscommunication. We all face walls of some kind and these walls represent the things that limit us. But during the period in which we find ourselves within these walls, how do we think? How we think determines our course of action.

I am no expert in psychology and neither have I conducted systematic scientific research of any sort for the writing of this post, but these are just a series of questions that I found asking myself after making many informal, casual observations.

The general notion about people who live behind walls is that they are dying to get out and often we feel sorry for them. But after observing people that live behind walls, I’ve discovered that there are mainly three kinds of people. In other words, people generally think and therefore act in three different ways in response to life’s walls. Walls limit a person from becoming all that they can be. Physical walls restrict people from moving around physically and figurative walls set limitations on people that don’t allow them to reach the fullest potential as individuals.

So how do people behave when limitations are set on them? Well initially there is shock; a sense of “this can’t be actually happening!” But as time passes on, shock turns to denial and eventually there is an acceptance that living behind these walls must be the new norm.

Yet when you closely observe these people over a period of time, you see the emergence of the three groups of people that I mentioned earlier on:

First, you have the settlers, a group of people that have accepted that their life behind walls, is the new norm. So what do they do as part of this acceptance? They find others that think like them and form a subculture within the general population. As a subculture, they might even criticize those that don’t fit in their social circle. Their new world becomes what they see, feel, hear, smell, and taste within the confines of these walls. Within this subculture, one might even find a fight for power and dominance among the members of the group since all they know and live for exists within their limitations.

Then there are the navigators, the group that does not accept their life within walls as the norm. This is the group that believes that there’s more to life than living within walls. To them, living within these limitations is just a season in their life. While they take responsibility and accept that life’s circumstances have landed them where they are now, they also see the bigger picture and believe there is a purpose for which these limitations have been placed on them, perhaps to bring out the best in them. This group of people constantly invest time and energy in channeling through the waters of failure, shame, and fatigue with persistence to make it to the other side. They set their eyes on leaving a life with limitations to live a more abundant and free life. Finally, when they draw close to the verge of leaving their temporary home, there emerges a subgroup within the resistance.

Within the navigators, you find two kinds of people. One, the group of that wants to leave once they reach the walls, never to look back again. These people confront their limitations and make holes in the walls that have been keeping them inside. Once they are out, they are gone, never to be heard of again. But the second group of navigators not only want to get out for themselves but also want to see the settlers come out. These navigators don’t find satisfaction in making holes in the walls. They want to see the walls come down as a whole, never to exist again. At the point of exit, they look back with empathy on their brothers and sisters that live blind lives.

Which group do you belong in? Ever felt limited in life? After overcoming your limitation, did you look around to see if there were others in similar chains? Or did you just want to get out for yourself? Or are you a settler living in denial that there is a better world out there beyond the walls that limit you.

What is the wall that limits you today? Are you even aware of the walls that surround you?

Just being a wall-fly.

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