Don’t trust your heart, we are warned. It is filled with evil intentions that will lead us down a destructive path. Emotions are vilified and intellect is glorified. Think about the other and how they would feel. Or consider what it would be like if someone else held you in unforgiveness and let that motivate you to forgive. Or just focus on God and what he wants and what is pleasing to him. Etc., Etc., Etc.
I am sure it has been the culmination of human destruction and evil acts throughout history, but judgment and avoidance of listening to and acting out of the heart has been in circulation for quite some time. Lacking understanding, we have set up road blocks to this dimension of our humanity.
Yet such avoidance and obstruction is the cause of the problems in the world. Murder and other violent acts, suicide, addiction, racism, compulsive relationships, abuse, affairs, etc. exist because of the lack of attendance to our own and other’s hearts.
It is fair to say that the human heart has been pushed into the shadows, a hidden and shamed part of ourselves. However, it is the very thing that steers the ship. It is the engine to what we do and when we ignore it, push it away, judge it, or live externally-focused, it takes over the wheel, making unconscious decisions, while we exist as some hostage-passenger shrouded in confusion, feeling lost and ashamed.
The heart or soul of the person is the guiding force of life and to disconnect from it manifests in problems that blatantly signal to us that we have forgotten ourselves.
It is the communication center, the compass, the fuel to living and loving vibrantly, and yet it has been taught, often in religious communities, that it cannot be trusted. I hear stories of those in the Christian community that live tormented trying to figure out what God wants (as if it were even conceivable) or if he is angry or disappointed or ashamed or distant or has abandoned us. To reconcile these disparaging perceptions, we overwork ourselves, altering our behaviors, white-knuckling day-by-day to avoid careening into trouble.
However, what we believe is helping, is only cultivating, perpetuating and exacerbating the issues. The root, or the deeper truths, are never engaged in and explored. Instead we live terrified of facing the past and thus disconnected, which can lead to depression and anxiety or other disorders (all of which communicate disconnection, by the way).
But what would happen if we actually attended to the heart and interacted with it? What would change if we listened to the voice within that was shouting to be heard and known? What if knowing this part of ourselves can only truly exist in the realms of relationship, where it is a mutually reciprocating engagement of being seen and known? I wonder how things would shift personally and beyond.
What May Change When We Listen
Have you ever wondered why you feel so lost and confused after you reacted some way? How it deeply troubles you, even to the point of despair and wanting to pull away from the world? Or what about your reactions to feeling ashamed and condemned within yourself?
All of these are natural responders to our actions, but if we stay stuck and suffocated within these states, we will never learn what we are in search of.
I believe that the greatest decision we can make it is to listen and actually understand our own hearts. This is the only way that things will change for us, that compulsive/addictive, and unconscious actions will cease. The goal is to continually grow in greater awareness, that we no longer carry on in life detached, disconnected and lost. This all will shift when we boldly heed the voice within.
Living Externally…Only Creates Problems
It is not about living to please others or, sad to say, God. This may be counter to what has been taught, but consider the repercussions of living for the desires of others. When we are always looking to see what others will say or God will say or what he wants, asking questions in the hopes that he will respond and give us clear direction, we miss that the answers often lay within our own selves.
We might all agree that a child that, as she grows, continues to live always pleasing her parents, afraid of their reaction, is not healthy or the purpose in life. The desire is that she lives listening to her own heart, enjoying what brings her joy and fulfillment and allowing that to impact and effect people in a way that moves and stirs them to live fully (true evangelism). We would encourage her to live compassionately caring and knowing herself, to encourage her to express her needs, to feel and articulate her anger and pain, and to understand her own limits and strengths.
However, when she is fixated on her loved one’s responses, always wanting them to be satisfied with her decisions, she inevitably pulls away from herself, feeling lost and tethered to the always changing and elusive desires of another. This creates a disconnect and chasm from one’s own heart.
And for those who have experienced various forms of relational trauma, such as abuse, neglect (of emotional needs), abandonment, a parent pulling away, and other shaming responses, it throws off the internal compass. Now the child lives always vying for the parent’s love, unconscious and avoidant of their own emotional guide that communicates when something is off or on, when they are connected or not.
This type of family environment facilitates and creates disconnection from the self.
But the parent’s sacred role is to help the child know their own selves within boundary lines that create safety, trust, and the experience of being loved and valued. The child’s loving guardians carry a very important task of guiding the child to attune to their hearts and to sharpen self-connection. It is a beautiful and special position.
However, when we develop out of environments where this kind of caring was lacking, we will struggle to actually know ourselves and move out of the heart. And when disconnection continues, our hearts will lead us into places, that scream for us to listen. All behaviors and the emotional fuel it runs on, whether we realize it or not, are about connection.
We cannot turn off the heart and our desires, for such needs will begin to surface in other ways, be it addictions or fantasies. Everything we do is driven by need, the need to connect, both to ourselves and others.
Listening to Ourselves Shifts the Way We Live, Connect and Care
So, believe it or not, the goal is to live, not driven by external praise and validation, but an internal way of being and moving in the world, satisfied by our own efforts, and listening to what stirs us personally. Living out of this position allows us to care for others, because we truly know how to care for our own selves. When we face our own pain, hurt, loneliness, longing and emptiness, we care for it in others, helping them face theirs. When we connect to ourselves emotionally and actually listen to what is communicated through our feelings, our response to this part of us is one of welcoming, not quieting.
I find it to be the greatest challenge to live out of my own heart, but it is only when I do so that I begin to actually live, grow, heal and respond to the world in a drastically different way. My experience of life takes on a different shape, and I am moved by the faith that exists within me, which is communicated through the emotional stirs.
It is paramount that we orient ourselves this way, for to do otherwise ends up perpetuating a disconnected self. The heart is the most powerful, alive, moving force within us, constantly messaging our needs and what is healthy versus unhealthy connection.
When we actually draw near to our own hearts, we encounter the wellsprings of life, and in order to listen we must silence the judgment that interferes with the voice of life.
The goal in life is live increasingly more connected and intimately engaged with our surroundings, enjoying who we are and the uniqueness of others, developing and deepening in love for all...and it begins with acknowledging our own hearts.