What’s behind your gate?

August 24, 2016


When was the last time you took a look inside yourself?

We aren’t taught to look inside ourselves, not really. If we’re lucky, we learn to do it as adults. If we don’t, we may be missing out on opportunities for insight that could make our lives more joyful, more purposeful and more peaceful.

We are, however, taught to put up walls, gates, fences to protect ourselves. Sometimes we’re protecting ourselves from the very insights that could change our lives for the better.

Socrates said “the unexamined life is not worth living” at his trial for heresy. Pundits have interpreted it a few different ways, but for me it has always meant that all of the answers we might seek lie within ourselves. Behind those security fences we’ve put up.

I’m not suggesting that we go through life unprotected, not at all. There’s plenty that we need protection from and if you read this site very often you know I’m a fan of setting limits. That includes limiting how vulnerable we choose to be in any given situation.

But overall, we must be willing to take down those fences and remove those obstacles that keep us from understanding ourselves and making any shifts, changes, moves that might bring more joy and happiness.

I know plenty of people who are afraid to look at themselves. That’s the way I once was.  Sometimes you can recognize them by their response to any questions about themselves that begin “Why do you think….”  Their response is usually “I don’t know.”

Other times they’re people who are envious of the happiness of others. Envy is a safe place to hide. Maybe they suffer from periodic depression. That, too, can be comfortable in its familiarity.

I know plenty of others who think they know themselves but have only opened their gate a little bit. Maybe they stay in motion all the time so they don’t have to face their truths. Maybe they make a million excuses to cover up the truth even as they say they know it.  It’s not that the truth is so awful, it’s just that they’re afraid.

Often, they know the truth at some level, but are afraid to make changes in their lives, changes they know might be positive and supportive, but still fear.

As for me, well, I say “FLING THAT GATE OPEN!” — at least for yourself, so that you can have a clear view of any obstacles in your path.

And then? Mow that obstacle down and get on with happiness.

Because we’re meant to be happy. Yes we are. I believe that with all my heart.

29 comments on “What’s behind your gate?
  1. Bryce Warden says:

    I wish more people would do this….sigh. We are meant to be happy!

  2. Paula Kiger says:

    I love that analogy and the tone of your post. Great observations here!

  3. Leanne says:

    I couldn’t agree more Carol – I think a day without happiness is wasted. It took me a long time to see past my garden gate – I assumed I was living an authentic life, but when I opened the gate and started to see myself properly I realized how much I’d been missing out on.

  4. Anna Palmer says:

    Beautiful image, literally. I have spent 30 years in therapy and somethings I feel as though I am still peering through a crack in the gate. Blogging helps. I think through writing, and talking, but you already know that 😉

  5. Diane says:

    I SOOO agree with this, Carol! Fling those gates wide!

  6. I totally agree with this! Thank you for sharing, I love it!

  7. Beth Havey says:

    The unexamined life is lived by many people. They plow through the day, fearful of asking questions. Your symbol of throwing open the gate is meaningful and twofold–sometimes it’s the folks outside our gates who are able to draw us to see where we error.

  8. I’ve never been adept at building walls or gates…I do have some, as everyone does. Mostly, my life and self is an open book.

  9. It really seems that we are always last to look deep into ourselves! I love this, we can learn a lot looking into ourselves.

  10. sue says:

    Hi Carol – yes we do deserve to be happy and we are also the ones that prevent ourselves from being happy. I wish I had opened the gate a long time ago, however, it isn’t too late and I’m learning so much more about myself each day. Great post – as usual!

  11. I’ve slayed all of my walls by writing 2 memoirs, nothing likeputting it all out there.
    I 100% believe we are supposed to be happy. It’s a lot easier once we realize it’s a feeling not a destination.

  12. Andrea Bates says:

    I truly appreciate this post, Carol.

    This line, most especially, sticks with me. An important reminder:

    “Envy is a safe place to hide.”

  13. It would be great if everyone looked inside themselves and opened that gate. I know some people who really need to read this post. It was a great one.

  14. I have some pretty heavy duty gates and fences. I’m getting better about cracking them open more here and there. This post will make me think about it more often going forward, definitely.

  15. Momina Arif says:

    What a deep and beautiful post. I’m really impressed.

  16. I like that quote – ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. Self reflection is important to learning and growing as a person. I don’t think we do it enough!

  17. Aeriane says:

    Happiness is very basic and general feeling! Because It is HAPPenning all the time, while we are busy with thouhgts, some activities in outter world and etc. But it is all the time there, no matter what!

  18. victoria says:

    I absolutely agree with this. So glad that you share this with us.

  19. Wendy says:

    This is such a great post! I also really love the image. Thanks so much for sharing.

  20. I am all about motivation and happiness. We all deserve to be happy and it is a choice we need to make in life to be happy. Happiness is a habit and I am cultivating that habit every single day.

  21. I truly believe we are meant to be happy too. And, removing obstacles, opening gates, and looking inside ourselves versus looking to others for that happiness is key! Love your post!

  22. Courtneylynne says:

    Yes love this!!! We all need to be happy everyday!!! More happiness in the world!

  23. This is deep on so many levels. It is try that many of us are hiding behind something and expressing one emotions while keeping our true feelings locked away. You hit the nail on the head when you said vulnerability. So much is wrapped up into the idea of being victimized or played for a fool that we don’t want to leave ourselves open. But you are correct in closing ourselves off we miss so many opportunities for true connection.

  24. Mags says:

    Easier said than done, but a great reminder of how we should be living our lives.

  25. Echo says:

    I have always built up walls as a coping mechanism. However, I have opened up more as I have gotten older.

  26. Crystal Gard says:

    Great analogy loved reading this

  27. What a great post! Happiness is so important and vital to a fulfilling life. I laugh a lot, it helps with stress and keeps me feeling young 🙂

  28. I wrote a series on the blog about my life, how I was hurt but I shoved it down, over and over again, burying it so deep so that I didn’t have to feel it. But when you shove things away they end up surfacing, bigger and badder than they were in the beginning. I had to go over them to feel them, to get through them and to move past them. I agree, not only did I have walls and doors up they were locked up tight. When you are locking something away it can’t get out, but the good can’t get in either. What a sad place to be. Throw open those doors, let the dark out and let the light in. Great post and great advice!

  29. kathy kenny ngo says:

    What an admiring post. I totally agree with you. Thank you for inspiring us.

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