In ancient times, it was a defensive strategy for many countries to build high walls around the city to protect themselves from some predicted enemy attacks.

Now let's say someone keeps secluding and isolating themselves from others. (For any reason like depression, fear or any psychological disorder or personal reason like keeping away from people for a specific period of time e.g. studying for an example.)

I wonder what sentence below sounds correct to ask such a person as an advice in a metaphorical way alluding to the above-mentioned strategy in English?

  1. Don't build a wall around yourself.
  2. Don't wall around yourself.
  3. Don't wall up around yourself.
  4. Don't surround yourself with a wall.
  5. Don't enclose yourself with a wall.

Please bote that all these sentences are made-up metaphores based on what I need in a parent-child conversation for a short story. I would appreciate if none of my examples above work, you could let me know about the closest, current idiom / expression for this specific scenario.

2 Answers 2


Your first sentence is the only one I would use, and this

Don't wall yourself in.

Perhaps these suggestions too

Don't wall yourself off from other people.

Don't live behind/inside a wall.

Don't shut yourself off.

  • Thank you @Weather Vane. Just another question came to my mind. I would appreciate if you could answer it too. Let's say you have a big field and in order to define your territory and distinguish your property from your neighboring fields which are adjacent to you (without bordering) you want to put fences around it. What verb is used here + fence? I mean what structure? E.g. you should: "fence around your field" or "fence in your field" or "surround your field with fences" or "enclose your field with fences"?
    – A-friend
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 16:26
  • 1
    Fence is used like wall but you usually "build" a wall and "erect" a fence. Or use fence as a verb such as "we fenced off our land", or like in Don't fence me in. Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 16:34
  • 1
    We put up / erected a fence / fences / fencing around our land. We fenced off the land from the neighbours. We fenced ourselves in. Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 17:08
  • Perfect answer. Great job. Thank you very much again @Weather Vane. 🙏🏻
    – A-friend
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 17:12

I would use a slight modification of your first option: "Don't build walls around yourself" but if talking to a young child one would normally expect simpler language, without complex analogies.

Your fourth option isn't too bad either, but the other three don't sound at all natural.

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