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Wall up

Ask Bernetta

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

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!


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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