All around us we have seen good love gone bad... Good people whose notions to live in love fall short of their romantic intentions. We see individuals fighting with one another, behaving coldly because of a perceived wrong or running from love because of a fear of a possible broken heart. I myself am guilty of such behavior. I too, have succumb to the single greatest source of relationship misguidedness… following my heart.
We hear the phrase often… “just follow your heart”. It is so common it’s part of our psychological DNA. We hear this advice from loved ones, friends, family and from our romantic culture. When “Follow your heart” is heard in the movies things work out 99% of the time! This is a far higher number than reality. In a real relationship following your heart can lead to DANGER! it can leave you wondering just where you made the wrong turn, and scrambling to get off the highway of love.
If I told you “I live in my head”, you would say “poor thing”. You would encourage me to get out of my head and be more attuned to the present moment reality of life. One might encourage me to get in touch with my body and senses and nature. You would instinctively feel that a myopic head centered way of relating to others would keep me from truly connecting with others. You could feel certain that "living in my head" would not be in-tune with love and life. You would be 100% right, of course.
Yet, is this any different a position than if I operated from a myopic heart- centered way of relating to myself and others. Wouldn’t I run the same risk of missing some part of connecting to life. Becoming too caught up in the spirit of things and missing part of the essence of the reality relating to another on the full spectrum of human feelings and emotions. Being to heart focused can make one just as callous and self absorbed as living life in my head.
I see the damage that good people do, to themselves and others by placing too much emphasis on the notions of their heart. Here is a short list of ways the heart misguides and how it can ultimately harm love.
Compassion: In general compassion towards another is an “ideal”. However, compassion isa “noun” that is more intentional than actual. The way our hearts use compassion against us, is to focus our attention on how partner needs to be more compassionate to us. This “clingy” desire for compassion, often produces a real resentment and resistance within partner seeking compassion. Sometimes leaving one partner feeling “damaged” by a perceived lack of compassion and the other feeling “damaged” by the perception that they are being unkind.
I have learned that my concern with compassion is often my own concern with my fear that my needs won't be met. I’m not saying that selflessness is the answer but I am saying this… try using “caring” the adjective over “compassion” the noun. Try putting love into action through caring for your partners needs.
Care is a heart based action that is produced in our minds and carried out by our will. Technically the seat of the will is the heart! “To care” means we have been thoughtful in our contemplation of a person, place or thing. Sometimes our attention alone is enough to redress hurt feelings and show that we care. Other times it will take more than attention alone, it will take active listening or gentleness. All of these are part of care with is love in action.
What I am committing to do is to stop seeking compassion and start caring- compassionately… that is to put love into action.
Another area where being heavily focussed heart can ruin love is in the avoidance of pain. I don’t condone violence or anger, but I don’t deny they exist. Their is pain and hardship around us, this suffering is part of the milieu of life. Why? That ia a question for men and women wiser than I to ponder.
- Best example of enduring pain as a compassionate loving act: Giving birth. The most loving act in the whole world, birthing another human being has been described as being "stabbed in the abdomen", "having your insides twisted and squeezed and pulled" by women in the the article “New moms describe what labor is really like”.
Not only do women endure this pain, they do it with joy. Is this pain any less real or visceral than the feeling of having your heart broken? Being willing to risk connection is a game where hurt and pain are possible and often inevitable.
It is the fear of “heart pain” that i’ve seen prematurely abort love before it has had time to flourish. People leave the game of love rather than face a potential loss of love and the accompanying pain. IN other words people choose certain painless loss by getting out early than risk the potential of finding love. This heart-fear has kept good men and women living less than enriched lives. Leaving many to fear intimacy, commitment or even being in a relationship at all.
These “foreshadowing” fears often have people avoiding potentially painful actions which never occur outside of their imaginations. The accompanying physical reactions that occur when our hearts rule us with fear can range from anger to avoidance and from freezing to fleeing.
When the machinations of my heart move me towards fear I project my own insecurities upon my partner. This can render an unsuspecting partner as a living manifestation of my heart’s fears. Sometimes, this is completely unbeknownst to her as I work through my fears and concerns in my imagination. Sometimes this heart fear and reaction can cause relationship havoc.
What are we to do when the foreshadowing of our heart shakes us with fear?
Here are a few tips for working with your heart and moving through the fear without fighting or fleeing from potential love.
Take a moment and breathe deeply. Take a deep breath when you feel that the fear of potential heartbreak is taking over your nervous system. Breathing brings new life and calms the nervous system. It allows you the opportunity to get centered. It gives you a moment to reset and for your rational brain to catch up.
Get moving.. Fear, like all emotions makes an energetic imprint on the body and on the space around your body. By moving your body you can shake off the energetic remnants of fear. Just like your pet shakes his body after a stressing time, you get to reset your muscle memory and move the negative feeling of fear through by somatic movements. This movement clears your system, the air around you and your connection to your partner. You can try dancing, jogging, walking, hiking, cycling all of these movements move you out of a negative energy field.
Sit in the discomfort. Let the noise of your heart’s pleading echo in your mind. Just listen like a parent listening to a willful child. Be sympathetic with yourself and resolute in your posture as watcher. When discomfort is held well, your energetic system tends to grow. You actually expand your capacity. You become a bigger person. You learn to hold sensation without creating meaning around the feelings.
As you sit in the emotions, stay focused on the sensations you are feeling without drawing conclusions or anticipating what is next. As you sit try to keep calm and let the feelings move freely. You will find that after the emotions calm themselves you will feel expanded.
Speak the opposite to your heart. Your heart will complain and give you its fearful logic. To counter, try speaking an opposite dialog back to your heart. The easiest way is to speak aloud the opposite of what your heart is saying. You can try this: "Yes, I know, but it (whatever heart fears) may not happen as well. The heart is trying to warn you.. It is there to give its input, to inform you of it’s perspective. But it is you, the watcher, who gets to choose, to judge and to act on the input from the heart, feeling into it's message and seeking the truth.