You’ve heard people say: “I feel boxed in. I’m going into my shell. She’s retreated from life. He lives in a bubble.” Maybe you feel this way yourself. But, how easy is it to stop and think about what these words might really mean? Or, more importantly, why it happens?
Figuring out the “why” is my job. That takes time and careful listening. I think it’s safe to say, though, that some form of anxiety or depression is the culprit. In therapy, we discover the roots. Then it’s possible to get you out of whatever kind of box, shell, retreat, or bubble you’re in – all of which interfere, in one way or another, with getting what you need.
Everyone is different. There’s not just one “why.” But, here are a few ideas to think over:
Did you grow up in an emotionally disconnected family? Feelings can be overwhelming if no one took them seriously. Though feelings aren’t right or wrong, they can be subject to a harsh judgmental voice inside: “Why are you so stupid? You’re weak to feel that way.” If feelings seem wrong or bad, they get boxed up – put aside or out of your mind, as if they don’t exist.
Were you neglected as a child? Maybe you had to go it alone and rely only on yourself. It’s not uncommon then, to create a tough shell around you and tell yourself you need nothing and no one. Venturing out and feeling sad or needy seems a dangerous thing if you don’t expect anyone to be there. Going back into your hard shell is an understandable self-protection if you feel scared and distrusting.
Have you been hurt or disappointed, rejected or abandoned? To be sure it doesn’t happen again, you might have a strong desire to withdraw and isolate yourself. You might even be convinced it’s much better to be alone. This can become a dark, depressive retreat. Yet, it’s a lonely and depriving place to live. And it’s not even as safe or comforting, as you want to believe.
Do you have feelings of insecurity or inferiority that you can’t stand? Are you hungry for something more and hate feeling that way? You might, then, have good reason for disliking reality. This can lead to risky behaviors – like compulsive gambling because you know you’ll hit it big this time. Or drugs to give you a high that makes you feel you’re the life of the party. You can’t leave this bubble of unreality and risk feeling the feelings you’re trying to escape.
Feelings and needs can be scary, but they’re normal. They’re human. They make for a whole personality. They can even be guides. If you learn to make friends with them, they’ll lead you where you need to go.
It’s hard to do this alone. If you’re stuck in a box, shell, retreat, or bubble consider giving therapy a try.