How to Understand Your Walls to Love [EP059]

The secret path to deep love is to understand your walls to love! Learning the secret language of our walls is what turns those walls into doorways. In this episode, you’ll learn the two keys to understand your own walls against love. And with that understanding, you’ll have the beginning tools to truly transform your entire intimacy journey.

Table of Contents

Episode Introduction: Walls to Love

Walls to Love

Every one of us have walls against intimacy and love that control our lives. In this episode I’m going to talk about the four stages that help you identify your walls to love and begin to transform them. So stay tuned to the Deeper Dating podcast.

Hello everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I’m Ken Page and I’m a psychotherapist and coach and the author of the bestselling book Deeper Dating. And today I’m going to be talking about something very, very profound. It’s our walls to love and a way to understand them and a way to heal them that might be new and very paradigm-shifting for you.

Every week in this podcast I’m going to share the greatest tools that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process. Because the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love. If you want to learn more about the deeper dating path to real intimacy, just go to You can sign up for my mailing list and get free gifts and learn more about how to use these ideas to transform your own intimacy journey.

You’ll also find complete transcripts of this entire episode. And I’m thrilled to say that you will also find my new downloadable Deeper Dating Course in which I guide you personally through all the steps and stages of this work.

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Also, everything I share in this podcast is educational. It’s not medical or psychiatric advice or treatment for any condition. And if you’re experiencing any serious psychological or psychiatric conditions, please seek professional help. Finally, if you like what you’re learning here, I would love it if you could leave me a review on Apple Podcast and subscribe as well. So thank you so much for that.

I think that one of the richest pieces of work in the intimacy journey that we can do is around our walls to love. This is a huge, huge subject. And I think that for most of us we can break that journey of healing and growth into four stages.

In this episode, I’m going to be talking about the first two stages. And then in the next episode, I’m going to speak about the last two stages. And then at future points, I’m going to devote an entire episode to each of these stages, because each one is so rich and so important. But for now, let me articulate each of the four stages, and then jump in and look at the first two in greater depth.

The Four Stages We Go Through Before We Break the Walls to Love

The Four Stages We Go Through Before We Break the Walls to Love
Photographer: Makarios Tang | Source: Unsplash

So the first stage of the journey is not being aware of our walls. Our walls own us, and they control us, and they push love away. It’s us pushing love away, but we don’t know it. The second stage is actually recognizing our walls, which is a stage of great possibility, but it feels really hard. There’s a lot of pain there to confront and face the walls that are there. We get better and better at this and we develop more and more hope as we become more familiar with this process.

The third stage is to look at this wall and hold it in a different way, to try to understand what caused it, to try to understand the language of this wall, how it is that it’s a deep part of us that is protecting us because we have not yet built up the skills to handle whatever is at the root of this in a wise, present, compassionate way. So, that stage of bringing compassion and insight, curiosity and questioning to the wall is a powerful, masterful, and complicated and human stage.

And the fourth stage is developing a way around and through that wall. It’s developing a new language, so whatever needs that couldn’t be spoken, whatever protections that couldn’t be built, now have a language for what they need, what they want, and how to hold themselves, and how they want you and other people to hold them.

With this language, we don’t need to have a wall. That wall becomes a door that we can open or close based on choice. These are the four stages. And now I’m going to talk about the first two.

The Walls to Love and the Walls to Intimacy

As a psychotherapist, I would say that perhaps the hugest piece of work that I need to do, that people come to me for help with is their walls to love and their walls against intimacy. I know for myself, in my personal life, that has been the epicenter of my entire intimacy journey is my relationship to these walls and healing and transforming these walls. Not knocking them down and getting rid of them, but understanding them, because these walls are not made of concrete.

They’re not made of steel. They’re made of us, and when we can understand the creation of these walls and what leads to them and develop a language of compassion and insight and how to interact when we’re in the presence of those walls, our worlds change. But before we can do that, it’s a very kind of painful process to face our walls. And that’s the first stage. And that’s the stage that I’m going to talk about right now.

So the first stage is kind of being unconscious of our walls, just not being aware of them. And that’s a really, really big one. We don’t even know we’re doing them. Jung said that, “all neurosis is a flight from suffering.” And when we can’t handle the pain that has spawned the birth of these walls, when we don’t know what to do with it, when we don’t have the skills to bear it, we wisely put up walls.

When Walls Become Doorways

Our unconscious when it knows that we don’t have the tools yet to deal with a piece of deep suffering, or problem, or interactive struggle, that we have with the world and our unconscious knows we’re not going to be able to protect ourselves wisely. Our unconscious puts up a wall for us to protect us. There’s not a door, there’s a wall.

There’s a book with a wonderful title that I really love and it’s When Walls Become Doorways. And as long as our walls are not conscious, they can’t become doorways. They’re created by our psyches because there’s a place of deep unconsciousness around our suffering that keeps us moving, that keeps us blocking without even necessarily knowing it.

I remember having a dear friend over, an elderly woman, and she came over and we were having kind of difficulties together. And I asked her what was going on, and she said, “Well, it’s hard to tell you, Ken, because you never light.” And I said, “What do you mean light?” It was a kind of old fashioned word.

And she said, “You never stop and sit down and give us a chance to really communicate.” Now for me that’s an unconscious wall, is jumping to the next activity. That’s a way that I handle my pain. And it is a wall against love. It’s a wall against intimacy.

Addiction is an unconscious wall, one that causes a lot of harm and a lot of pain. And when we have a wall there is a way that we’re fleeing pain. So when we’re fleeing pain, there’s always a kind of neurotic quality. There’s an unconscious quality, there’s a rush in quality, there’s a lack of self love.

Awakening Our Consciousness About the Walls to Love

Awakening Our Consciousness About the Walls to Love
Photographer: Yaniv Knobel | Source: Unsplash

In 12 step programs, they have a phrase for people who are in the throes of addiction and they say, “You feel like a piece of shit in the center of the universe.” That’s what it’s like when we’re really owned by addiction. So that’s the first stage and it’s the stage where we’ve got walls and we’re not conscious about them.

And let me just say that every human being that I’ve ever met is at least partly in Stage One. And that’s part of the gift of this work is learning to recognize, “Oh, there’s a wall here. I was pushing love away and I didn’t even know it.” And that is an amazing, amazing accomplishment when we can recognize this.

And that leads us to the Second Stage. And that second stage is the stage of being aware of our walls. Now Vito Russo, the author, said this great line that I quote a lot, which is, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” And there’s a lot of pain attached to this stage of recognizing a wall. And that pain is there for a number of different reasons.

Well, the simplest reason that it’s there is because we’re aware that we have a wall up against love. And that’s a sad thing and a hard thing – to admit that we are pushing love out. There’s a sadness that is so human and so deep, it’s part of the great pain of being human, is the facing of the fact that we’re pushing love away. It’s a kind of awesome revelation that can leave us dumbstruck and sad, and it’s what brings so many people to therapy.

The Point of Recognition

But when you get to the point that you recognize a wall, there’s a huge, huge accomplishment that has happened, and this stage is pivotal because this is a stage where we begin to transform the wall. It can’t really be transformed in the same way until it’s conscious.

The author, Stephen Levine, had a wonderful definition that he used of healing and this is what he called healing. “Healing means to enter with mercy and awareness. Those pains, mental and physical, from which we have withdrawn in judgment and dismay.” Those are two of the real feelings that we feel when we admit a wall. This feeling of judgment and dismay.

One of the closest friends I’ve ever had, his name was Michael. I’ve talked about him in this podcast before. He died of AIDS in 1991. I remember a number of years before he passed, we were sitting together and talking, and he said something that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It was very stirring because it was really painful.

And he said, “In my whole life…” We were kind of young then, so these revelations were kind of new revelations for us. But he said, “In my whole life, again and again, every time I’ve truly, truly let myself open up to someone, it’s been someone who never could love me.” I was struck by the beauty of what he said. I could feel the ring of existential truth in it.

The Turning Point

And he was crying at the time, and I felt brokenhearted for him and kind of in awe that he said something that real. That was a turning point for him. The acknowledgement of that wall changed his life. And somewhat soon after that, he found his life partner who he was with until he passed.

There was something about the recognizing that wall that was so powerful. And I remember at a later phase, a number of years later, I had spent a good number of years doing the club scene and looking for love in all the wrong places, in all the wrong ways, looking for it through quick hookup sex, the kind of gay party culture of that time, which defined my way of searching for love and failed tragically and miserably and left me so empty. But I didn’t know that I was empty. I thought I was one step away from finding a love if I just tried harder again and again and again and again.

And I remember the period where that began to shift for me. I was in a weekend workshop with a wonderful teacher and, whose name I’m not remembering at this moment, but it was a wonderful workshop. And I remember at one point facing the loneliness that I had always been running from.

And if you’ve ever seen a kid get really hurt and be shocked and stunned and their mouth is wide open but no sound comes out, that was what the pain felt like to me. It was so yawning and so vast. It was like the emptiness came flooding to the surface. It felt really painful and really hard, but I knew even then, this is the beginning of healing.

Healing the Pains That Are Building the Walls to Love

Healing the Pains That Are Building the Walls to Love
Photographer: Luis Villasmil | Source: Unsplash

It was the beginning of healing. It was the beginning of my stopping just running to chase love and finally learning how to build love, but it took that kind of yawning pain of recognizing this wall inside my being. So it was a gift of healing.

Years later, Michael passed away from AIDS, but before he did, he was really sick for a long period of time, and I knew that his end was coming near. But I couldn’t feel anything. I had a wall. I had a wall. And that’s part of the pain of this phase, is this dismay, because when you’ve caught a wall up against love, somehow it feels like you’re betraying love. That’s a very painful thing.

Or the sense of hopelessness and powerlessness that we feel when we face a wall and see a wall but don’t know how to change it yet. It’s a very powerless place, but it’s a wonderful powerless place. It’s the kind of powerless that I believe they’re talking about in 12 step programs. When you admit your powerlessness over a pattern that has controlled you, it doesn’t mean that you will never have the power to handle that.

What it does mean is that your ways of handling it have not had the leverage that you needed. That the tools, mostly the patterns of trying to fix it, have just not been strong enough and don’t work.

As a psychotherapist, you learn about the definition of crisis. Crisis is a particular phase in the growth journey and it’s a phase where you’re confronted with an obstacle so big that you do not yet have the tools to handle it.

A Difficult but Transformational Place

Now, this is a terribly difficult but transformational place because this is where our being actually has to develop new capacities that didn’t exist before. To handle this situation. When we face our wall and admit our wall and feel that strange kind of powerlessness around it, our being finally is liberated to invent wiser ways to handle the dilemma that the wall was originally built to fix.

So I went into therapy at that point because I was just so dismayed by my wall of lack of feeling as my best, best friend was moving closer to dying. I think we had one session, and this wonderful therapist Harold Cuden said some words that helped me feel the place that of course existed inside of grief. The floodgates opened, and I was able to cry and cry and cry.

It was such a wonderful feeling to feel human again around this pain. And it allowed me to connect to myself and to Michael. But it took this kind of strange acknowledgement that there was a wall here that I didn’t understand.

So this second stage is actually a powerful stage of healing. And I have seen, again and again, when we hit up into our wall, when we admit our wall and acknowledge it, as helpless as we feel, as frustrated as we may feel, there’s a deep, deep intimacy bravery in that act. And in confronting our wall and in standing there without the tools to get through it, but doing it in an open way.

A Confrontation on Our Walls to Love

We’re going to talk about this in the third stage in our next episode with cupped hands, with compassion, and with an openness and curiosity, we will discover how that wall is actually made up of us and why we needed to create that wall. When we do that, when we confront our walls, it’s not only an act of bravery, it’s an act of opening, even though we can’t see that opening yet.

This is one of the greatest miracles that happens in the intimacy journey is that when we face our with a deep desire to change them, somehow we find the tools to change them. That’s the heart and the soul again of why I believe most people come to me for help in their journey.

So in the next episode, we’re going to talk about the last two stages. And again, in future episodes we’re going to talk more deeply about each one. But what I want to say is that all of us have unconscious walls. And for all of us, the act of saying I have a wall, as humbling and strange as it is, is the precursor. It’s the harbinger to a new life and a life that’s more filled with intimacy.

Because this journey of recognizing our walls is not like an anomaly. It’s not just a problem we have to fix. Walls, to doors, facing walls, the experience of walls, this is the meat and potatoes of our intimacy journey. And it never stops. It’s not a problem that has to be fixed once. It is the amazing and humbling experience of the intimacy journey is that we hit walls again and again and again and again and again

Opening Up Our Walls to Love

Opening up Our Walls to Love
Photographer: Federico Lancellotti | Source: Unsplash

And the more comfortable we become with this awareness of our walls, and the less shaming we are of ourselves, the easier this journey is. And the more that happens, the more we discover this amazing experience where our walls open up and begin to change. So then we stop feeling as dismayed when we hit a wall. We go, “Oh yeah, my walls, I got a lot of those. And they’re made of me, and I have some tools now to heal and fix and transform those walls.”

So, thank you so much for listening. In our next episode, we’ll cover the next two stages in this process. And again, I want to encourage you that if you like what you heard in this episode to please subscribe and leave me a review, and I will see you next week on the Deeper Dating Podcast.