In my last article I talked about the importance of letting go of past pain in my attempt to experience connection and love and also to experience some healing from that pain. In this article I want to talk about how crucial it is to live an open, vulnerable lifestyle as opposed to a closed, controlled lifestyle.
The Problem with Living with a Closed Heart
A good place to begin is to understand something about why we live closed, controlled lives. Michael Singer in his book “The Untethered Soul” tells us that “our most primal energy flow is the survival instinct. However; many of us no longer lack food, water, clothing or shelter; nor do we regularly face life threatening physical danger. As a result, our protective energies are directed toward defending ourselves psychologically rather than physically. We now experience the daily need to defend our self concepts rather than our bodies. Our major struggles end up being with our own inner fears, insecurities and destructive behavior patterns.”
The reason that I shut down and close my heart off when my fears and insecurities are triggered is that I do not want to be seen as weak or incapable. Our greatest need is acceptance and greatest fear is rejection, so, I am convinced that I will be rejected and ultimately abandoned if I show weakness. Rather than expose my weakness, I will seek acceptance and approval from people by proving my worth to them. I identify these as my imposters or my control strategies. Control is the ultimate strategy for closing off the heart and protecting what little self esteem I have. This past week I shared with my Men’s Group a list of control strategies that I wrote about a number of years ago when I was attending an experiential program. It was a very painful realization of how I shut my heart from people and attempt to prove my value to them. Here is an excerpt from what I wrote.
“I participate in feel good activities to run away from the discomfort of not feeling valued. This may include anything from running to golf. I become obsessive about these feel good activities until I burn out on them and move on to something else. For example when I begin to work out I do it seven days a week until it breaks me. When I do work out I push myself to the limit in every workout. This is the addictive side of my shadow self. In my work I often put more time and energy than is warranted into a particular project or person. I am a perfectionist in some cases. Writing articles or promotional material for me in the past has been difficult because it has to sound just right or I will not submit it. I would spend hours and hours gathering information for a presentation wanting to have ALL the relevant information before developing the presentation. It is this kind of behavior that has made the thought of writing a book an overwhelming proposition. This kind of thinking generally leads to constant feelings of being overwhelmed. At times I hide behind an image of having it all together. I protect myself by projecting a cool, calm exterior. I exude outer confidence so that people cannot see a heart ravaged by fear and doubt. My anxiety disorder robs me of belief in myself. It convinces me that I have no emotional control. Maybe the greatest fear is losing control of me in front of a group of people, that I will be stripped bare of all the facade of outer confidence and people will see me as I actually am…a weak, fearful, cynical individual. As long as people see this talented composed, outer image, then I can fool myself into believing that I am OK.”
Unfortunately, when I close off my heart and focus on my control strategies all my internal energy is invested in those strategies. And, it is not an energy supporting my authentic, genuine self. It is an energy that is driven out of fear and pretense. It is not the kind of pure positive energy that flows from a heart that is open and full of faith and optimism.
Freedom Comes from the Open Heart
If I close my heart and utilize whatever energy I have to protect myself, I will not be free. I will not be free to be my authentic self, free to express the unlimited potential of the light within me. Free of performing for people’s approval. And, ultimately, I want to be free to be me and allow my spiritual gifts like love, faith and inspiration to flow freely from me.
For that to happen I have to allow my entire self to surface, the shadow and the sacred, the dark and the light, the fear and the love. If I want to be free, it all has to be equally exposed to my awareness and released.
Allowing Negative Energy to Flow Through You
The key to keeping your heart open is to allow negative energy to flow through you. If someone says something that triggers your fear and insecurity you have to be willing to let that energy hit your heart, feel it and then allow it to flow through. And, that is nothing more than a choice. Here is the process;
Emptying: Learning how to Let it Go
The letting go process begins with being aware that you have been triggered. You acknowledge that there has been an internal disturbance. You have been hit in a painful spot. You are having an identity crisis.
- Close Up: When we are hit in our emotionally sensitive, painful place, some of us will close up around it and choose to play with it, rather than let it go. We get caught up in the painful energy and we attempt to control it.
- Stay Open:
Step into the Observing Self.
There is a place of awareness in each of us that is able to view both the Shadow and Sacred objectively. You can hear the talk and the behavior and evaluate it objectively.
c. Emptying: Letting it Go
Instead of closing up around the painful energy that has hit you; you will now allow it to flow through you. This is nothing more than a choice you make when an emotional disturbance takes place.
- Allow your Thoughts and Feelings to Be Separate.
Your Observing Self acknowledges that your inner disturbance is being triggered by thoughts and feelings that do not constitute who you are in your Conscious Self. They are separate from you.
d. Focus Your Attention on the Sacred
- Look UP: Negative Shadow energy will cause us to look down, into the darkness and to cower in fear. Positive Sacred energy draws our focus upward toward the light.
Learning how to live with an open heart is really at the heart of everything I teach. My hope is that collectively we will continue to set aside our fears and insecurities, pull back the veil of our hearts and allow the world to see the beauty and unlimited power within.
What do you want?