We often close ourselves off when traumatic events happen in our lives; instead of letting the world soften us, we let it drive us deeper into ourselves. We try to deflect the hurt and pain by pretending it doesn’t exist, but although we can try this all we want, in the end, we can’t hide from ourselves. We need to learn to open our hearts to the potentials of life and let the world soften us.
Whenever we start to let our fears and seriousness get the best of us, we should take a step back and re-evaluate our behavior. The items listed below are six ways you can open your heart more fully and completely.
1. Breathe into pain
Whenever a painful situation arises in your life, try to embrace it instead of running away or trying to mask the hurt. When the sadness strikes, take a deep breath and lean into it. When we run away from sadness that’s unfolding in our lives, it gets stronger and more real. We take an emotion that’s fleeting and make it a solid event, instead of something that passes through us.
By utilizing our breath we soften our experiences. If we dam them up, our lives will stagnate, but when we keep them flowing, we allow more newness and greater experiences to blossom.
2. Embrace the uncomfortable
We all know what that twinge of anxiety feels like. We know how fear feels in our bodies: the tension in our necks, the tightness in our stomachs, etc. We can practice leaning into these feelings of discomfort and let them show us where we need to go.
The initial impulse is to run away — to try and suppress these feelings by not acknowledging them. When we do this, we close ourselves off to the parts of our lives that we need to experience most. The next time you have this feeling of being truly uncomfortable, do yourself a favor and lean into the feeling. Act in spite of the fear.
3. Ask your heart what it wants
We’re often confused at the next step to take, making pros and cons lists until our eyes bleed and our brains are sore. Instead of always taking this approach, what if we engaged a new part of ourselves that isn’t usually involved in the decision making process?
I know we’ve all felt decisions or actions that we had to take simply due to our “gut” impulses: when asked, we can’t explain the reasons behind doing so — just a deep knowing that it had to get done. This instinct is the part of ourselves we’re approaching for answers.
To start this process, take few deep breaths then ask, “Heart, what decision should I make here? What action feels the most right?”
See what comes up, then engage and evaluate the outcome.
4. Engage your shadow
Many of us who are on the personal development path get caught up in embracing characteristics we want to have, like happiness, compassion, love, and passion. In this pursuit we end up losing parts of ourselves that make us whole, such as suppressing our negative qualities instead of engaging them. Try asking yourself a few questions:
What parts of myself could I do without?
How do I get in my own way?
Is there anything I’m hiding from myself?