Follow your heart.”
“Be true to your heart.”
These phrases are thrown around as if those are easy things to do. But if you don’t know HOW, following your heart feels like a foreign concept.
For many years of my life, I didn’t know how to follow my heart. As a result, my quality of life and relationships were mediocre at best.
Thankfully, certain life events taught me how to listen to my heart’s guidance, and my quality of life and relationships are 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.’
With these types of life lessons, 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.
Because love is our true essence. 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.
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.
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. 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 from your shoulders.
Taking the weight off your shoulders will enable you to open your heart more.
Yes, choosing to follow your heart may disappoint others, because you’re no longer doing what they want you to do. They’re not getting 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.
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 dependent on their partner to make them happy.
What this 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.
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.
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.
1. 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. Make it part of your daily practice to consciously connect with this Source of love.
As Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “You don’t get wet by saying, ‘Water.’”
In other words, you can say you believe in God all you want—you can go to church every Sunday and 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 in many ways: through a meditation practice, or 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 were your best friend and partner, or by taking a daily walk in Nature to feel its beauty.
There are countless ways to connect with Source. How you choose to do this is a personal practice that only you can create. But no matter the practice, consistency is key, 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.
2. Let Go of What No Longer Serves You
Letting go of what no longer serves you means letting go of the effort to hold onto things—relationships, jobs, unhealthy 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.
But 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 or messy, our energy becomes depleted and it’s hard to feel at home.
Our relationships, our jobs and our home life are three significant areas of our lives. We focus a lot of time and attention on them. If they don’t feel good to you, 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.
When something doesn’t feel good, do something to change it for the better.
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’ve seen that 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.
3. 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.
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 hear 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. Each day, list at least 5 things you love and appreciate about your life. Or even better, list 5 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
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 not.
When you’re aligned with your heart, life is so much more enjoyable, and no one can drag you down.
When you’re not aligned with your heart, you end up making choices in opposition to what you truly want. 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?
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.
Wisdom will point you in the right direction, but if you don’t follow it, you won’t achieve the amazing quality of life 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.
Want to learn more?
Watch Catherine’s interview with Your Brilliance where she shares tips on how to have that tough conversation with him and get the clarity you need to make a decision.