Although I don't make New Year's Resolutions, this year I did set the intention to consciously live from my heart more than I have been doing. I was ready to share my musings on being open-hearted, soft-hearted, strong-hearted, kind-hearted, etc when life intervened. Actually, disease and death intervened. In light of how my heart feels right now, I'd like to muse, instead, about taking care of our hearts when they are wounded, vulnerable, and hurting.
In reality, cradling hurting hearts is an apt prequel to the subject of living from our hearts. Living from your heart is more easily accomplished when your heart can trust you to treat it gently, honor its myriad feelings, and commit to keeping it as safe as possible.
Cradling A Hurting Heart
Our hearts are vast beyond comprehension. They are multi-faceted, brilliant, adaptive, loyal, loving, caring, miraculous and, yes, also vulnerable and easily hurt. As I write, my heart is steadfastly doing it's life-sustaining physical job while also busily balancing an array of feelings. Fresh grief from the sudden and shocking death of a friend, maternal concern, and sadness nestle amid more buoyant feelings. Because of the grief, concern, and sadness, my heart is in need of a little TLC and kindness. Most hearts are much of the time.
Hurting hearts can be cradled in myriad ways; taking positive action, enjoying calming activities, and embracing constructive attitudes for example. Here, I'd like to concentrate on how loving and supportive attitudes cradle hurting hearts. I've shared three attitudes I use to help soothe and mend my heart with the hope that one or two might also resonate with yours.
Loving and Supportive Attitudes
1. Acceptance -- of what you are feeling right now
For many years, resistance and it's kissin' cousins, blame and shame, were my kneejerk reactions to difficult feelings and circumstances. Thankfully, age and experience have taught me that resistance and BS (seems like an appropriate abbreviation for blame and shame) magnify, rather than diminish, pain. Not wanting to magnify pain gave me the impetus to change my response-default to acceptance and gentle recognition of responsibility. Well, much of the time, anyway.
Acceptance and Resistance/Blame & Shame (BS) are polar opposites. Acceptance softens. Resistance/BS hardens. Acceptance is expansive and opening. Resistance/BS is restrictive and judgmental. Acceptance helps hurt feelings transform into compassion, understanding, wisdom, and freedom. Resistance solidifies pain into resentment, emotional imprisonment, criticism, and fear.
An example of accepting mysterious and uncomfortable feelings happened to me just a week ago. I woke up feeling very strange, disquieted, as if my soul had somehow lost its balance and equilibrium. Although I was concerned and saddened about something one of our kids is going through, that didn't seem to be the whole story. I actually had no clue what the whole story was. I shared my nebulous feelings with Gene and accepted them. Yep, this time I actually managed to accept what I was feeling early on. I settled myself near to the heart of God by praying, meditating, and being sweet and gentle with myself. At church the next morning, I learned that a good friend had died the day before while on vacation in Mexico. Ah, the pieces fell into place. Somehow, at some level, my soul was aware and felt disquieted even though my conscious self had no knowledge of her death.
Acceptance opens doors to loving and supportive attitudes whereas resistance/blame & shame slams them shut and bolts them securely.
2. Interested Awareness -- bring benevolent and gentle curiosity to your inner exploration
In the warm, protected cradle of benevolent and gentle interest, our hearts can safely reveal their vulnerabilities, wounds, and struggles as well as their insights, triumphs, and joys. Becoming aware of what our hearts are experiencing alerts us to what actions, activities, rituals, readings, and connections might be soothing right here, right now, in this particular situation. Awareness also allows us to celebrate our heart's inspiration and spiritual acumen.
Gentle awareness and exploration help us understand our feelings. More often than not, understanding prevents us from destructively shaming and blaming ourselves or projecting misunderstood feelings outward onto others.
3. Awe and Optimism -- notice the wonders around and within you and cultivate an upbeat outlook
Your beautiful, mysterious, and trustworthy heart is meant to soar. Adopting attitudes of awe and optimism helps your heart recover from even the deepest pain and rise again into the realms of joy and compassion for, and from, which it was created.
Treat your heart gently and compassionately especially during times when, like a fearful or cuddle-hungry child, it simply wants to be held. Acceptance, awareness, and awe are loving and powerful "arms' in which to cradle a hurting heart.
Live gently with your heart and the hearts of others.
Love and hugs,