The Walls We Build Around Ourselves

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I was speaking with Sharon, my wife, and a few friends,a few weeks ago, and we got around to talking about favourite colours, favourite flowers, favourite foods etc.   When one of my friends asked Sharon what was her favourite flower, Sharon replied "˜Well this week my favourite flower is the Orchid.'   When my friend questioned her use of the phrase "˜this week.'   Sharon replied that it changes all the time.   It is the same with her favourite colour, her favourite food and other favourites.   I think this is a great fluid way of thinking and it got me thinking about the phrases we use that keep us static in life.

If I ask you the question: Who are you? What would you say?

You will probably answer: I am (insert your name here)

Then if I ask you who is (your name)

You might answer with the roles you have in life, I am a construction worker, I am an admin assistant, I am a chef etc

Then you might go on to say I am a wife, a mother, a father, a son, a brother, a sister etc

You might then go on to speak about the you that identifies with your particular beliefs in life: I am a Catholic, I am a Muslim, I am a Christian, I am Buddhist etc

If I then ask you what attributes make up (your name)

You might go on to say I am kind, I am loving, I am a good listener, I am a good friend, I am a bad enemy, I am shy, and go on to list all your personable attributes relating to your personality, which is great.   We usually define the attributes of our personality in a positive light.

When I go on to the aspects that you don't like about yourself you might say things like: I am no good at organising, I am lousy with technology,   I can't cook, I can't cope with change, I am no good at maths, I can't write very well

What do you notice about all of the things above?

All the statements are static!


A fascinating part of our psychological makeup is that we identify with our roles in life, with our beliefs and with our values, and we can't really tell the difference between our roles and ourselves.   It's called "˜identification'

That's all great, that we identify with these roles, beliefs and values in life, however they become static, and when something becomes static it is difficult to move.

Think of this statement below

I am an alcoholic

There are millions of people around the world who utter this statement every day, but when you look at the statement, it has nowhere to go, the person uttering this is stating a fact "˜I am an alcoholic' "“ it's like saying "˜I am human.' That fact will never, ever change and that's how your brain interprets statements that begin with "˜I am.' "“ a fact that will not change.

So when the person saying "˜I am an alcoholic.' They are really telling themselves that they will never not be an alcoholic.   This, I believe is a flaw in the AA, which is an amazing organisation.   The AA believes that once an alcoholic always an alcoholic, but that very label of being an alcoholic can hinder the recovery process of someone who currently drinks too much to cope with their issues in life, or who likes alcohol too much at that particular point in their life.

Just like any other "˜I Am' statement, you are leaving yourself nowhere to go and change becomes almost impossible.   All the statements we utter that begin with "˜I am' "˜I Can't' are all walls we build around ourselves, and the more we say these statements the thicker the walls become and the harder it is to tear them down

Tearing the walls down

To tear down the walls we have built around us it's important to understand the concept of "˜Identification' which you can check out at Wikipedia to give you a start.   Once you understand the concept you can then begin to break them down and realise the statements we tell ourselves day in day out stick, and are acted upon in our unconscious minds.

When you say a statement beginning with "˜I am' or "˜I can't' your brain interprets this information as fact, and there is nothing that can be done about it, and it does not try to look for new, fluid, solutions

The kind of things we tell ourselves and those around us should be fluid.   We are evolving beings, forever changing, forever in motion and using static statements can keep us stuck in life.


If someone asks you a question which you would normally answer with "˜I Am' or "˜I can't'   you can replace this with:

I currently work as (your occupation)

I currently follow the beliefs of Catholicism but am looking at different belief systems

I have not really tried to learn the art of cooking but am willing to learn

Just now I have not taken the time to be good with computers but am open to the idea of learning more

Obviously there are some things that are facts such as I am a father, I am a son, I am a wife etc, but on the whole the statements we make about ourselves are static and should be fluid..

Have a think about this and let me know what you think.

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About the author

Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the author of The Belief Principle and an online trainer teaching personal development and online business.  He is also the creator of this blog which has been running since August 2006.