Sunday, 1 December 2013

Opening your heart .. what does this mean to me?

It's a well used phrase, and there are books about it - which is all good. In practice, it is not an easy thing to do. In Western society, the mind has been given precedence over the heart, and this is very evident in much of the workplace culture and in much of society's general culture.

Some of the ways in which the mind works are:
Thinking about the past and future.
Blaming others and refusing to accept responsibility for ourselves.
Wishing that things could have been better.
Reminiscing over what someone did to you.
Refusing to allow emotions to express themselves.

I should hardly need to tell you that the last one is particularly prevalent amongst men. For many men, matters of the heart are things that 'we just don't talk about' - and their stubbornness can eventually manifest in various different ways. There are also some women who are like this.

When bad things happen, it causes our heart to feel pain, whether we realise it or not. Sometimes, or at least this is true in my experience, we don't actually realise how much pain something caused us that happened a long time ago. But our heart pain often lays buried because we have shut it away or we just didn't know how to deal with it properly.

Often it's our childhood wounds that are buried the most. As Eckhart Tolle says (paraphrased) - 'Children in particular find strong emotional pain hard to deal with .. choosing not to feel (the emotion) is indeed the only option available for the child at the time.' Then he says about how this emotional pain manifests itself in adulthood. Now, you might say to me 'I had lots of emotional pain as a child. I really did feel it.' Yeah, fair enough - you may have been through hell as a child - but to actually truly 'feel' the emotion - I mean in the context of allowing it to be there, without judgement, to allow the emotion to truly express itself - is very hard, even in adulthood, and even more so as a child. We are afraid of the pain we may feel if we allowed our pain to truly be felt. And so we fight against it or wish it wasn't happening - or just pretend it isn't really there.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia


So let me give you a little example from my own life as to how this all can work. As adults, we all (unless we have been practicing enlightenment for many years) have 'trigger points' that always reference back to something that happened in our past that caused us a lot of pain. If something happens that resonates with that past pain, it can really set us off. For some it may be loss, for some it may be embarrassment, for some it may be lack of security. One of my biggest triggers is that of rejection, which has prevented me from opening up to other people in the past, particularly in romantic contexts, but also in friendship contexts. It has taken me a long time to get to where I am now, hopefully able to work through it and to deal with any emotions as and when they arise. But this fear has almost psychologically paralysed me at times. And, as with anything, if you haven't been through this, it would be hard to understand how difficult it is to overcome. It really isn't a case of 'getting over it'. And, I guess when I'm thinking about opening my heart, this is perhaps the biggest way I want to do so .. by facing one of my biggest fears.

Anyhow, I am going off on a tangent there. This fear didn't arise from nothing. Okay, it may well be due, in part, to my sensitive nature. But it is probably predominantly due to childhood experiences. I spent a lot of time on my own at school, was rejected quite badly. A lot of people, of course, have had bad experiences at school. But I think a part of my heart may have closed down without me realising it. I don't think I was consciously aware of the emotional pain I may have suffered, at the time. But, looking back, I think it hurt me more than I thought.

I am not sure whether there were particular situations that triggered some of this pain, and to be honest it doesn't matter that much. But my subconscious mind definitely formed beliefs based on my experiences. The rejection I had during my childhood made me associate any kind of rejection, even though it may not be personal, as being awful.


To me, it's slightly complicated how the whole human psyche works. I don't for one second claim to be an expert on it. Feel free to correct me on any of this as long as it's not in an 'I know better than you' context. But, from my limited understanding, our heart feels pain whenever something hurts us, whether we realise it or not. If we are not able to feel our emotions and accept them at the time they come, the pain will get locked away in our heart and manifest itself in various ways. And the longer the pain is locked away, the harder it can become to deal with it. Our subconscious mind determines how we respond to things without us realising why. And our pain and how we feel about it, and how we interpret different situations, becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. In a nutshell, if we don't believe we deserve something good, or if we believe we deserve something bad, or if we believe we are bad, life will bring situations to mirror these beliefs.

Sometimes it is just too painful to face our deeply buried heart pain. Opening our heart is not a job that can be rushed. We cannot force our heart to open. We can certainly make a decision to say 'yes' to life and allow our hearts to open (and I think it's very important to do so) - but we all have different layers of pain and we need to allow life to unfold and for our hearts to open at their own pace. Whilst I believe that the best way to overcome emotional pain is to truly face and feel it .. we need to be good to ourselves - which includes being able to face things as and when we are ready.


In simple terms, it could be described as moving from fear to love. The pain that is stored in us produces fear .. fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of loss, even fear of success .. which can prevent us from taking action towards having all the good things that life has for us. The silly thing is, the thing that we're most afraid of isn't actually that bad, if and when it actually happens! But sometimes fear can keep us stuck. The heart is where love is truly felt. In order to open our heart, we need to be receptive to the love frequency rather than the fear frequency.

It also means facing our fears fully. Generally speaking, it is important to work on ourselves and our self-image and to bring some positive stuff into our lives, before facing our real demons. When I am ready to face my fears or thinking about facing them, I will ask my heart .. How does rejection feel to you? How did rejection feel to you? Is there anything else you need to tell me? And be open to whatever happens from there, and just feel whatever pain needs to be felt - and allow life to bring whatever situations are for your highest good. There is no specific technique for facing your fears or opening your heart, I'm guessing it's different for everyone.


I think that our attitude towards life determines if we open our heart. We may have some terrible things happen to us, which could take a while to recover from. When we say 'yes' to life - we are not saying that our circumstances are good and we may wish that things had been totally different. But we can be open to change if we say yes to life itself. If we blame others or rage that life has given us a bad card, we are saying 'no' to life itself and resisting what is.

What does opening the heart mean to you? I'm sure many of you must have thoughts on this topic which would be beneficial and maybe helpful to some. Go on, share :-)


  1. Wrote a longish comment and the blogger said whoopsy to me. All I said was this is a great post, nothing much to add as we are on a similar journey right now. We cannot force our hearts to open and facing the pain is not easy but essential.

  2. Thanks Kelly, we're on the same page :)


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