Ask Bernetta

I am Guarded. 4 Lessons I’ve Learned to Knock Down the Walls & Open Myself Up

Guarded

Have you ever been in a room full of people laughing, joking and just having what seems like a great time, but you feel invisible? Or worse, you still feel alone.

What about people boldly telling you that you have a wall up, or you’re guarded and they can’t seem to get through to you?

About a month ago, I was at an event for an organization I’m a member of, and I got up to speak. After I shared some things about myself, I wasn’t ready for what came next:

A woman walked up to me and said, “So, that’s the problem! I always wondered what was wrong with you. I thought it was me. I thought you didn’t like me.”  Shortly after that, another woman said, “I always wanted to be your friend, but every time I thought we were making progress – you would back away. It’s like you would only let me get so far.”

These are sentiments that I have been hearing most of my life.

  • You are hard to get to know, but once I know you – I love you!
  • You have a wall up. You are guarded
  • You don’t tell anybody anything.

The funny thing is, those responses are from people that care about me. That have desired to dig deeper because they knew it was more than the shell that was presented to them. What I have found, is if people really don’t want to take the time to know me, their sentiments are different:

  • She’s stuck up.
  • She think she is better than me!
  • She think she’s cute!

The only one that is true is, I do think I am cute! But I hope you think you’re cute too!
#confidencebaby

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Anyway, after years of hearing from different people in different stages of my life that I have a wall up, and being in a room full people and still feeling like I am by myself – it was worth looking into.

I am guarded.

Why? Well, when I think back far enough, I think it goes back to the first time I was lied on by “my friend” in high school. I had never been betrayed by anyone and when it happened by someone that had the title of “best friend,” I think it made me look at “girl friendships” totally different.

I think from that point, I only shared so much of myself. I believe deep down, I was scared that it would happen again.

People who are guarded are usually:

  • Reluctant to share information about themselves that might deepen the relationship. When people meet and start to get to know each other, they usually start to share information about themselves, bit by bit. The more they share, the deeper friendships/relationships are developed. When someone who is guarded stops sharing on the surface level, the relationship could only go so far.
  • Sharing information makes them vulnerable. If they share too much, it can be used against them. They might be judged or betrayed.
  • Hide under the word, shy. It’s easy to say, “I’m shy” versus confronting any issues that may have caused you to go into a shell. Using the term, “I’m shy” is giving yourself permission to basically hide and stay in the background. That was my go-to phrase I used to explain my quietness, but people who really knew me always gave me the side eye when I said it, “Girl, you are not shy!”

How do you become less guarded and open yourself up:

  • Understand that revealing your flaws actually makes you more relatable. People who are guarded sometimes like to appear flawless, which apparently is a little annoying. When you actually reveal that you are vulnerable, it shows that you are just like the next person.
  • Be comfortable with secrets you share. When you share something personal, understand that you can’t control someone else’s response. When you are confident about what you share, no matter how personal – people feed off of your actions. You might think something is very terrible to share, but it could be very minuscule to the other person. Or it could be just what the person needed to hear.
  • Face the fear of being more open. The biggest part of being guarded is letting people in your space. Gradually open up as you feel comfortable by sharing more and more about yourself. Start with people you trust, and then move on from there.
  • Get professional help. Sometimes, our adult behavior is rooted in childhood memories. We don’t know how change or grow because the past has shaped us into who we are today. Speak with a therapist. They can help you dig deeper into why you can’t let go or keep holding on to your past.

One of many lessons that I’ve learned is that having walls up over the years doesn’t protect you from hurt, but actually sometimes keeps love & great friendships out.  So if you are guarded or have a wall up, evaluate if you are getting the life you wanted because of your walls.

Do you want more of an emotional connection with people? Will you allow people to actually “see” you? That’s a question only you could answer. A question I have to answer as well.

Are you guarded? Do you have a wall up? How’s that working out for you?

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Nancy
    December 28, 2014 at 10:03 am

    This was powerful! #Pinned Thank you for sharing

  • Reply
    Mimi
    December 28, 2014 at 10:10 am

    I’m not guarded at all. I haven’t really experienced anything in my life to make me feel this way but I get why people are. I don’t tell my business that I don’t want in the street for obvious reasons but other than that I will deal with everyone equally until they show me who they are. I’ve always found you friendly but I guess we share a passion so that remains surface. I can imagine it’s not easy just letting your guard down based on past experiences. This makes me look at a few people I encounter differently, this may be their issue as well.

  • Reply
    Katherine G
    December 28, 2014 at 10:13 am

    This is so me. I’ve been hurt way too many times and I find myself not wanting to be who I am right away because of it. I also have had things I’ve shared used against me yet again another reason why I’m not so quick to open up. But I guess you can’t find out who is a true friend and who isn’t unless you do open up.

  • Reply
    Daphne Channel
    December 28, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Thanks for sharing. I personally dont consider myself guarded at all but maybe I share too much. Which can also looked at as a flaw. Lately though I have been thinking before I share making sure my audience is worthy. Id hate people to use what I share with them against me in any fashion that may tear me down rather than support and build me up

  • Reply
    Kita Bryant
    December 28, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I am always guarded so much so that I rarely share pictures or get in them. I have been a loner most of my life and always stayed out of mess because I never got close to people. I thought if I don’t get close I won’t get hurt and for the most part I don’t get hurt out of my 30something odd life only 2 people have hurt me to the point of no return. I am not shy per say I have spoken in front of crowds was well known in a lot of places but I never got close to people. I am trying to change that now but its hard when you have been this way all your life. I don’t think I will ever allow people to see all of me but parts of me I can open to others. I just don’t want to get hurt I have seen what hurt and betrayal does to people and I never wanted any parts of it.

  • Reply
    Kimberly
    December 28, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    This is a GREAT read and insight. That has NEVER been my experience with you however I can totally relate. Friendships with women have always been a challenge for me as well because of the same experiences you speak of. #truth

  • Reply
    Efie Lynn
    December 28, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Wow… I never would have thought or known. I can’t say that I’ve ever experience this with you but I totally understand. I’ve been hurt in the past by a so-call friend, family, and even Church members and a Pastor but although, it took me to a dark place it never changed who I was (am) as a person. I use it as apart of my testimony and share it with others to help grow and strengthen them. I’m forever evolving and continue to grow daily; I had to face those demons in order to get over them and to face them I’ve become transparent and at times I feel I may tell to much but as long as I help someone along the way then I know I’m living the life that God has called for me.

  • Reply
    Nicole Brewer
    December 29, 2014 at 1:49 am

    This was a really great and timely post. I think it’s important that people take the time to get to know themselves and thus strive to break down those walls, that’s what I’ve done in my travels and living abroad. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  • Reply
    Nadeen
    December 29, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    interesting post! You are so outgoing and bubbly in your videos and what I see in pics that you being guarded wouldn’t cross my mind. But I do remember thinking something when we have met! But I know I have been accused of the same by people and when I say “I’m shy” no one believes me but it’s true! It can be nerve wracking to let down walls but the relationships that form from it are usually worth it.

  • Reply
    LaShawn
    December 29, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    You know, I never thought of you as guarded at all! I remember thinking,she is really sweet! I wasn’t expecting it! But you are right in that a lot of people are guarded because of things that have happened in their past. I am not guarded at all. I mean, I don’t tell ALL my business to everyone, but then I’ve never had the experiences that you have. Awesome post!

  • Reply
    Vashti (veepeejay.com)
    December 29, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    I can definitely relate. I’ve always been guarded, but I’m slowly letting my guard down. As a blogger, you sometimes have to….to an extent. I have been accused of being stuck up in the past. The furthest thing from the truth lol .

  • Reply
    MJ
    December 29, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Funny the times we met, I never felt you were guarded or stuckup. I guess that’s because I’ve been told the same things in my life. I’m glad you shared this side of you and I will surely need to implement some of your tips. I’ve definitely been in a shell since moving to Atlanta.

  • Reply
    Christine @MomsNCharge
    December 29, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    First off, yes you are cute and I think I am too 😉 But seriously, this is a great post. I recently shared some really private things in my book and a blog post. I believe that we hold the key to releasing someone else from their own “prison” (in this case of not letting their guard down) by sharing our own stories. Sometimes seeing or hearing from someone else who is experiencing what we are, and can help us navigate through it, is all they need to let go, and keep it moving.

  • Reply
    Kim
    December 30, 2014 at 11:48 am

    I too can admit to being a bit guarded and having it be misconstrued for pride. One of the talks that really helped me understand the processes about this is by Brene Brown as she talks about vulnerability and shame. You should check it out sometime.

  • Reply
    Renae
    December 30, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Great post!! I for sure am guarded when it comes to people and have been told some of the same things. Maybe because of past experiences, or from what I’ve seen others experience. I tend to have a pretty good sense about people, and cosider myself a good judge of character so that more times than not has really worked out best for me thus far.

  • Reply
    Krystal Grant
    December 30, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Very helpful post. I can relate to this because I tend to have a wall (a big, brick wall) up. And just like you, it stems from some mess that happened in high school. Thanks for the info.

  • Reply
    celyn
    January 5, 2015 at 1:52 am

    beautiful post! thanks for sharing

    lifeisashoe.blogspot.com

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