Deciding what pain I am willing to live with, or let go of, use to consume my days. Buried in the human heart is pain we don’t want to disturb. Some of us measure our days with countless attempts to keep it hidden. Or we desperately collect people and things to help cover up the pain. The conundrum for me was that everything I wanted most in life seemed to activate the pain. In an attempt to avoid feeling it, I would deny myself the love, the activities, the creativity and events in life that are the essence of my spirit. I locked my true self up because it hurt too much to be the women I was meant to be. There was no one around me that agreed with me or championed my needs or desires. Thank God that is in the past.
We get our ideas of love from caregivers, society and the media without exploring what it feels like coming from inside. I look at you and assume you smile because you are happy and in love…so I try to do what you do, look how you look. And much of the time I am missing out on the unique things that will help me feel what opening my own heart will do for me. What makes me...me.
One of my earliest memories as a child was a day I was feeling overwhelmed by my own feelings and had no one capable of helping me sort them out. Hiding in the garage with my arms around my German shepherd, I soaked her coat with my tears. My heart was broken and I needed someone to tell it to. Isn’t it interesting how much pain a loving pet can absorb? She was the only one who didn’t judge me for my feelings or my pain, and I began to tuck them away from the humans in my life.
Our bodies react with an amazing array of chemicals synchronized to the signals it gets from the brain. If we are traumatized or afraid, we begin to create hardness in certain areas of our bodies that are most susceptible to our thoughts. We harden our heart if it has been threatened, broken, or denied nurturing and care. We begin to create a protective barrier around our heart and not much can get in – or out. We begin to question our decisions and then avoid making them all together. We withdraw from life and then depend on others to produce our happiness for us because our hearts are no longer available to us.
So what is the solution? How do we stop hiding, protecting and shutting ourselves off from the light of love?
It takes courage to step outside the protective shell we have built. It takes curiosity to explore how far out we can go at one time and still return unscathed. Get curious. Begin to explore why the protection is there. Everyone has seen a curious child playing with stackable toys, turning them over and inspecting every surface. Exploring how they fit with other things and delighting when things come together.
Cultivate delight. Do something different. Seek wonder.
Pull out your notebook and write down everything that you quit doing that gave you joy in the past and find a way to do it again. Pick one thing and get busy with it. Pay attention to what it does for your heart. You will find as you give yourself these gifts and recommit to joy, that the walls around your heart will begin to soften, crumble or disappear. And discovering this, you will make yourself more susceptible to love. It is only a step...but it may be the one you need to put you on the path to what you have always wanted.
What activities, interests or accomplishments would bring you joy? (take out your journal and have fun with this and notice how it makes you feel)