8 Lessons on LoveKeep your heart open for as long as you can, as wide as you can, for others and especially for yourself. ~Morrie Schwartz
I distinctly remember the time I first thought about love.
I was 5 years old. It was a bright, sunny day outside and my mother told me that she and Dad no longer loved each other; and that they wouldn’t be living together anymore. My little 5-year old world was rocked.
I remember trying to take it all in—to process it all as fast as a 5-year old brain could. Thoughts rushed through my mind one after the other. I would no longer be living with one of them and seeing them everyday.
Everything I had known was suddenly no longer true. It felt like someone was playing a terrible joke. I could not see how life could work without all of us together. I trusted in love, in them and in our family unit. That was all I knew.
And now it was gone. Life as I knew it had just profoundly changed.
Questions fired rapidly from my mind: “if dad really loved me he would stay, wouldn’t he? Was this my fault? Am I unlovable? How can I fix it? What is this love thing all about anyway?”
Fast-forward 30 years … with my adult understanding of the situation, I now realise it was no body’s fault. I have gone on to having many of my own experiences of love and life, and realised that love can be a very complicated, difficult and beautiful thing.
Initially, I went into relationships with an impending feeling that it was not going to last—like the rug was going to be pulled out from under me at any moment— particularly if it was going well.
I also found it very hard to trust, like I had to keep all my cards very close to my chest. Coupled with the anxiety of feeling that I might be unlovable, which made trusting in love and relationships very difficult.
In one relationship, I actually allowed myself to really fall in love and for two blissful years I thought I had got it all wrong before. I started to believe that love is wonderful and fairy tales do exist after all.
Well, that relationship ended abruptly. He broke up with me unexpectedly for another girl. Thus confirming all my beliefs about relationships carried from my childhood.
In what I have always thought as a pivotal moment—as I was crying myself to sleep—my mum called and told me something that has forever stayed with me. Without that phone call, I would have cemented my belief in never trusting love again.
She said, “It is a wonderful thing to love and to go for it with all your heart and soul, sweetheart, even when you don’t feel strong enough to. Don’t lose that. To let yourself fall in love completely regardless of what might happen is something that is very precious.”
And then she told me of a quote, “Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time. –Maya Angelou”.
After this I became determined that I would not shut myself off from love, no matter what fear or trepidation I carried.
I have always thought that people who loved wholeheartedly and lived life with an open heart were so brave. I realized that I was going to miss out on much of what life has to offer if I continued to be imprisoned by fear.
It was time for me to be brave.
It was important to me.
In life, there are many difficult situations we face which can cause us to close down to love or find it difficult to trust again.
The following are 8 lessons I’ve learned on my own journey to opening up my heart … to trust in love and ultimately in life.
1. Seek to Understand
When you can understand why you feel the way you do—whether it’s being scared, insecure or defensive—it can bring a lot of compassion to your situation.
We were born into this world open and trusting with an expectation to love and to be loved–it is the most natural thing in the world.
This trust can take a hit through life’s circumstances and disappointments. We can end up blaming ourselves and developing beliefs that aren’t true.
Bring love, kindness, patience and understanding to yourself. Learn to tell yourself the truth— ultimately that you are a lovable and worthwhile person. This will put your heart at ease and keep it open.
2. Find Your Inspiration
Find out what inspires you and makes you feel strong, fearless and open. This is different for everyone, but when you feel strong and brave anything is possible, especially love.
You may gain strength from other people’s examples, get inspired by a quote or by your children or by a cause that you are passionate about.
Anything that is real and precious to you; anything that gets the fire burning inside you; anything that inspires you to stay open to life and all its possibilities is what we’re after here.
Learn from others who have been through similar situations.
There are many books (and blogs) written about healing your heart and learning to trust, all from everyday people who have overcome obstacles and are sharing their experiences. We can learn from them. There is a wealth of insights and knowledge at our fingertips.
4. Finding Joy
I love this quote “If we can just let go and trust that things will work out the way they’re supposed to, without trying to control the outcome, then we can begin to enjoy the moment more fully. The joy of the freedom it brings becomes more pleasurable than the experience itself.”(Goldie Hawn)
Feeling joy in your heart about anything—an ice cream cone, a daisy, just the way the breeze rustles the trees, flying a kite. Letting yourself feel giddy about something is a sure way to keep your heart open and happy. Looking for the good also helps to beat fear and insecurities.
5. The Optimism Perspective
Every experience thrown our way is an opportunity to define our selves. We cannot control what happens to us but we can control how we respond to it. This is how I try to approach things now.
We can fill our hearts with optimism and trust in the future OR we can continue to dwell in negativity and expecting bad things to happen to us. It’s our choice. And our choice directs our outcome.
6. Vulnerability is Not a Weakness
Feeling vulnerable is a little scary, especially when it comes to love. But vulnerability is not a weakness. It is the only way to truly experience life, openly.
Perhaps we can resist the temptation to putting up lots of walls and protective mechanisms. Perhaps we can use that vulnerability to let ourselves feel and to learn that everything will be okay.
7. Keep Mind & Body Healthy
Keeping your mind and body healthy helps with clarity, not just now, but at all times. It helps you make better decisions, perceive situations more clearly, and feel good about yourself.
Yoga can be a powerful tool to keep your mind clear and your body healthy. It even has poses designed to open the heart space.
8. Have Faith
Keep hope and continue to remind yourself of why love is worth fighting for.
It is commonly said that love is the most powerful force on earth. Love is also what ultimately heals us from our emotional wounds.
Many great writers and thinkers throughout centuries have described the wonder that is love. We have all seen the positive impact of what love can do for this world.
As John Lennon said, “All we need is love.”
And as Erica Jong said, “Love is everything it’s cracked up to be…It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.”
So let us continue to find ways to keep our hearts open and to never lose faith in our best asset—love.