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little boy metaphorically wearing a suit of armor for emotional protection

Do You Wear an Emotional Suit of Armor?

How do you protect your emotions? Do you hide inside a suit of armor? Do you distract yourself with constant diversions? Do you binge on TV shows? Do you burrow under the covers? Do you overeat? Any of these and other activities are okay at times. It is when they interfere with your quality of life that they become a concern.

You may know someone you trusted wholeheartedly. It lasted a long time…until it didn’t. Trust can take years to develop but have you noticed it can be destroyed in an instant? And have you noticed what happens when you no longer trust? That is when fear rules.

Some people develop trust issues stemming from negative childhood experiences in the form of abuse, neglect, or shaming. Distrust can arise in interpersonal relationships, whether romantic betrayal, family issues, abandonment, rejection, or casual friendships. Then the ability to develop intimacy, commitment and trust is compromised. Distrust can also happen through business dealings, politics, technology, and repair services. People often feel disillusioned through perceived injustices by authority figures, whether private, legal, or governmental organizations. 

Whew! There are so many settings and influences where people can feel let down. You may feel that your ability to trust and maintain your values and integrity have been profoundly violated. You may feel overwhelming stress, anxiety and depression that block your ability and desire to fully participate in life. It is understandable that if you have been hurt or betrayed in the past, you may feel reluctant to trust again.

You may recognize negative thoughts such as:

I can never let my guard down.”
“If I open up and share my feelings, I will only get hurt again.”
“Everyone is out to get me.”

When you have thoughts such as these, in actuality you are creating social barriers that serve as defense mechanisms to protect yourself so you will not lose trust again. Protecting yourself is wise. Living life fully is also wise.

The good news is that you CAN take off your suit of armor by recognizing it is weighing you down. Imagine how you will feel when you remove that weight. It will be easier to breathe and stretch your limbs. You may feel uncertain as you take a next step, so it will be helpful to ground yourself with some fresh steps.

  1. Admit to yourself that you have been carrying around a burden you would like to discard.
  2. Literally do physical exercises that will ground you, like power walking, dancing, lifting light weights, etc.
  3. Read self-help books on your particular loss of trust.
  4. Learn relaxation techniques.
  5. Develop support people; maybe join a support group.
  6. Partake in a new interest. Fresh ingredients can be uplifting.
  7. Seek out professional guidance from a therapist you can trust.
  8. Learn about the psychological implications of your undesirable life experiences.

“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way”.”  ― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Reference: GoodTherapy.org Staff. (2014). The Psychology of Trust Issues and Ways to Overcome Them.