‘Follow your heart’ and ‘be true to your heart’ are phrases that are thrown around as if those are easy things to do. But if you don’t know *how*, it feels like a foreign concept…like ‘how the heck do I do that?!’
For many years of my life, I didn’t know how to follow my heart. And as a result, my quality of life and relationships was mediocre at best…often times, pretty shitty.
But thankfully, certain life events have taught me how to listen to my heart’s guidance, and my quality of life and relationships is now WAY better! I’d like to pay this lesson forward so you can benefit from learning how to follow your heart too.
First, Forget Everything You’ve Been Taught
Okay, maybe not everything. But if you’re like most people in our culture, you’ve been conditioned to believe a lot of limiting ideas that keep you from listening to your heart’s desires. Things like:
- Relationships are hard work and you have to tough it out when things aren’t working.
- In order to achieve your goals, you must hunker down and suck it up.
- Sacrificing yourself to please others means you’re a ‘good person’ (this is especially true for women).
With these types of inspiring life lessons (I’m being facetious there), it’s no wonder why so many people have a hard time following their heart! It’s as if suffering is a prerequisite to living a life you love, and that is simply not true.
Think about it this way…if you want to live a life you love, and you want to have loving relationships, you must choose to align yourself with love. And when you choose to listen to your heart, you are choosing to align yourself with love.
Underneath every layer of insecurity, doubt, resentment, etc., every human being wants to be loved. Why? Because love is our true essence, and it’s what we’re born to give and receive.
That’s why it feels so good when you’re in love – with your partner, with yourself, with your life – and why it feels so bad when you’re not.
So if you want to feel better about yourself and your relationships, it’s essential that you learn how to listen and be true to your heart. And in order to do that, it’s necessary to let go of old beliefs that limit you from doing so.
The Fear of Disappointing Others
One of the biggest obstacles in receiving your heart’s guidance is the fear of disappointing others. And women are especially susceptible to this.
In our nature to nurture, women often choose to disregard and hurt their own feelings in the misdirected hope of not hurting someone else’s feelings.
I say ‘misdirected hope’ because there is no way of knowing how someone else feels. Many of us make assumptions about how someone else feels based on how we would feel, or even based on past experience, but you can’t feel other people’s feelings for them – it’s impossible.
You can only feel your feelings, and therefore, you can only be responsible for your feelings. You are not responsible for your partner’s feelings, and they are not responsible for yours.
This isn’t a free ticket to say or do whatever you want without any regard for your partner’s feelings…because if you’re a person of integrity, that wouldn’t feel good anyway.
But it is an invitation to take the burden of a responsibility that’s not yours off of your shoulders. And taking the weight off your shoulders (literally and figuratively) will enable you to open your heart more (literally and figuratively).
Yes, choosing to follow your heart may disappoint others because you’re no longer doing what they want you to do…what they’ve become accustomed to receiving from you. But what about YOU? Don’t you get to do what you want to do too?
Making choices based on what others want, rather than what you want, trains them to expect this behavior from you…that you will always do what makes them happy, and your feelings don’t need to be taken into consideration.
And while each partner’s behavior certainly influences the quality of the connection in your relationship, in a healthy and thriving relationship, each person is responsible for their own happiness…not dependant on their partner to make them happy.
What this essentially boils down to is this: You have to care about your happiness and well-being just as much, if not more, as your partner’s happiness and well-being.
When your happiness depends on what someone thinks of you, or whether or not they love you, you are giving your power away and handing your quality of life over to someone you have no control over.
You get to be in control of your life, and following your heart will serve you well!
*How* Do You Follow Your Heart?
So, how exactly do you follow your heart? What do you do to gain experience on this path if you don’t even know where to begin?
Before I learned how, I had the same questions. In addition to what I’ve already shared, I’m also going to share with you some of the most pivotal steps I’ve taken in learning how to let my heart take the lead, and how taking those steps improved the quality of my life.
Learn How to Connect with the Original Source of Love
When I was going through a divorce in 2004, I wasn’t asking for spiritual guidance, but my counselor at the time somehow knew I needed it, and she handed me a copy of a book called, The Science of Mind – A Philosophy, A Faith, A Way of Life, by Ernest Holmes.
This is not an easy read (it’s over 600 pages!), but within minutes of reading its first few pages, I immediately felt a deep sense of peace and connection within my heart that I had never felt before.
I felt like I belonged to something much bigger than I had ever been taught, and I felt unconditionally loved!
Call it God, call it the Universe, call it Spirit, call it whatever you want…but whatever you call it, know that It is the original Source of love, and make it part of your daily practice to consciously connect with this Source of love.
Wayne Dyer said, “You don’t get wet by saying water.” Meaning, you can say you believe in God all you want…you can go to church every Sunday and think you’re a good person for doing so…you can say you have faith in something greater than yourself, but until you immerse yourself in ‘the water’ (i.e., experience a connection with Source), you won’t get wet (i.e., you won’t feel the Love that literally created you out of Itself).
You can do this through a meditation practice. You can do this by reading or listening to spiritual messages that make your heart radiate with peace and joy. You can do this by talking with God as if He/She/It is your best friend and partner. You can take a daily walk in Nature and feel its beauty.
There are countless ways to connect with Source, and how you choose to do this is a personal practice that only you can create. But no matter the practice, consistency is key and makes a huge difference, so be willing to commit to it.
If you don’t already have a spiritual practice that works for you, I encourage you to feel your way into this idea. ‘Sit with it’ for a day or two, listen to what your heart tells you, and then follow its guidance.
This may feel a little foreign at first, but practice makes progress. The more familiar your practice feels, the more comfortable and confident you’ll feel.
My personal practice has changed a few times over the years. I find that if I keep listening to my heart’s guidance, I fine-tune whatever is ready for more and I continue to feel a deeper, more loving connection with Source as I follow my own path. It’s beautiful!
Without a doubt, I know that by listening to my heart’s guidance to leave an unfulfilling marriage (the divorce I mentioned earlier), I was led to a spiritual practice that opened my heart to so much more love in my life!
(If you’re interested in reading a quick, easy book that embodies the essence of The Science of Mind, I highly recommend a book called, This Thing Called You, also by Ernest Holmes. This is one of my all-time favorite books!)
Let Go of What No Longer Serves You
When I say ‘let go of what no longer serves you’, I mean let go of exerting effort to hold on to things – relationships (romantic or otherwise), jobs, unhealthy patterns and habits, etc. – that don’t add to your quality of life.
When we have a good quality of life, we feel good about ourselves and our relationships. We feel aligned with what we believe in and we enjoy participating in our life.
When we stay in relationships that don’t feel loving and joyful, our heart feels heavy when we spend time with these people.
When we have a job that feels stressful and unpurposeful, we expend energy and efforts on something we don’t like or enjoy.
When we live in an environment that feels chaotic, noisy and/or messy, our energy feels depleted, and it’s hard to feel ‘at home’.
Our relationships, our jobs and our home life are three significant areas of our life in which we focus a lot of our time and attention. If these ‘things’ don’t feel good, it’s because you’re not listening to your heart.
I’m certainly not suggesting that you leave your marriage, quit your job, or sell your home tomorrow. But I am suggesting that you listen to your heart. And when something doesn’t feel good, do something to change it for the better.
I’ve done this in two of my long-term romantic relationships. The first one was unhealthy from the start, and it took me thirteen years to listen to my heart and let that relationship go. My life has only gotten better since.
The second one was a healthy relationship from the start, and lasted eight years, but ultimately, we discovered that we weren’t meant to be life-long partners. Choosing to follow my heart on that one was hard, but I felt even stronger and more in touch with myself for doing so! And my life has only gotten better since.
I’ve also let go of secure jobs that were no longer making me happy. Following my heart to pursue my desires was scary, unfamiliar and unknown, but so worth it!! I now love my job, I feel aligned with my purpose, and my heart glows when I am serving my clients.
I’ve also let go of living situations that caused me to feel far from being ‘at home’. I once lived with a roommate in a beautiful home with a backyard view of lots of trees, which I love and was a big part of the reason why I chose that place.
I didn’t really want to live with a roommate, but I was stuck in the resistance of not wanting to spend more money than I needed to, so I went against my heart’s desires and chose to live with a roommate anyway.
It soon became painfully obvious that my roommate’s energy and my energy were not in sync at all, and I found myself not even wanting to go home if she was there.
I woke up one day and felt an even stronger calling from my heart, and I chose to listen to it this time! I gave 30-days notice without having any idea where I was going to move. I just trusted that it would all work out.
On day 20, I still hadn’t found a place to live and she asked me if I wanted to stay for another month. I said “no thank you, I know I’ll find a place.”
That night, I found an awesome place on Craigslist. I could feel my whole body respond with “yes! This is your new home.” I applied the next day, along with a least a dozen other applicants, and two days later, signed the lease to move in. And I still I love my home!
Every time I’ve listened to my heart – when I feel that something is either right or wrong for me – and followed through on its guidance, I am led to the next best step.
It takes practice, but once you build the momentum and confidence, you learn to trust it, and feel so much more peace of mind about your life and your choices.
Focus on What You Love and Appreciate
And the third and final step I’m going to share with you in this message is to focus on what you love and appreciate. There are scientific studies that show that feelings of love and appreciation have a direct and positive physiological response on the health of your heart.
And the opposite applies as well. Feelings of anger and frustration have a direct and negative physiological response on the health of your heart. That’s why so many people have heart attacks from feelings that produce a lot of stress.
Your heart has more electromagnetic energy than any other organ in your body, even more than your brain! It is deeply affected by the way you feel. It will let you know – through your emotions and physical sensations – when something feels right for you, and when something doesn’t feel right for you.
So the better you feel, the better your heart feels. And the better your heart feels, the better you feel…and the easier it is to listen to its guidance. Focusing on things that you love and appreciate is an excellent way to do this.
Having fun and enjoying quality time with yourself and the people who mean the most to you are also excellent ways to nurture the relationship with your heart.
Keep a gratitude journal, and each day, list at least five things you love and appreciate about your life. Or even better, list five things you love and appreciate about yourself. This makes your heart very happy!!
Stay away from negative things that add feelings of anxiety and stress to your life. Turn off the news. Turn off violent TV programs. Turn off gossip about other people.
Turn on nature documentaries. Turn on meaningful conversations with others. Turn on music and dance. Turn yourself on!
Wisdom vs. Integrity
There is SO much to share on this subject, and I’ve already made this much longer than I had planned. Listening to my heart gave me permission to keep going ;-).
Everything I’ve shared with you has helped me increase my ability and capacity to listen to my heart’s desires and follow through on its guidance. Even though no two people are on the same exact path, I feel confident that these practices are helpful to anyone who wants to learn how to follow their heart.
With every choice you make in life, you are either aligning with your heart or you’re not.
When you’re aligned with your heart, life is so much more enjoyable, and others won’t have the ability to drag you down. This is the only place you can find joy.
When you’re not aligned with your heart, you’re making choices in opposition of what you truly want, and life is far less rewarding and far more difficult.
You already know you want a good quality of life – who doesn’t? The question is, are you willing to follow the path of your heart’s desires to get there? And with that question, I leave you with this powerful quote from M.H. McKee:
“Wisdom is knowing the right path to take…Integrity is taking it.”
Knowledge is powerful, but applying that knowledge to your life experience is what creates wisdom. And wisdom will point you in the right direction, but if you don’t follow it, you’ll feel less than the amazing quality of life that you deserve.
Be true to yourself. Be in integrity with your heart’s desires by listening to its guidance and following it. Your life will get better and better.
Stay tuned for more mindful messages and other valuable resources – giving you helpful insights, tips and exercises to improve the quality of your life and relationships!
With love and support,
Healthy Relationship Coach
P.S. If you’d like to receive more guidance on how to follow your heart, feel free to contact me. I’d love to support you however I can!