I have a stuffed "animal." It is a heart. It is pink. It has a great big sweet smile and two arms that reach out. It is beyond cute-sie. And as much as I hesitate to admit it, it is a lot like me.
The sweet heart in me is very prominent. I am a nice person and am often referred to as sweet. As a kid I hated being called sweet. I wanted to be tough and cool. Sweet was boring. Sweet people got treated badly, taken for granted. To be openhearted was a form of weakness.
As an adult, I have yet to fully embrace my openheartedness, but I am learning. Or maybe I should say re-learning. We are all born with our hearts wide open. Closing down the heart is learned behavior. We feel hurt by someone and we close down. We learn to be like our parents, culture, and peers. We equate sweet with doormat.
Each time we close our hearts to someone or something, we shut off some of our capacity to truly love, to enjoy life, to have good health and financial abundance, and to live authentically. We do not protect ourselves; we fence ourselves in, cutting off our life force little by little. Although we often do not question closing our hearts down, and often do not even notice we are doing it, living with closed-heartedness is not our natural state of being. It is a fear-based response to life.
It is time to understand openheartedness as strength and wisdom. We can be sweet, kind and compassionate but also be able to take care of ourselves, and be treated well by others. To do this, we first must open our hearts to ourselves.
Open your heart to each of the times you loved and it did not work out the way you wanted.
Open your heart to fear of loving again.
Open your heart to fear of losing control if you are too open.
Open your heart to all your desire to be loved.
Open your heart to all your perceived personality flaws.
Open your heart to your inner critic.
There are, of course, many other aspects of yourself to which you can open your heart. I hope you will use this list as a starting point for further exploration and openheartedness.
What can you open your heart to today?