Open Heart Surgery

Open Heart Surgery

Whilst I was driving back from London the other evening I started thinking about the saying ‘broken hearted’ and what that meant in terms of feeling?

I am pretty sure most of us have experienced the feeling and even said out loud ‘my heart is broken’.  I have this theory that it is not our heart that get’s broken at all, but it is that protective case we place around our heart that breaks.  Sadly all too often when that shatters, and it can be for any reason, it is our natural instinct to find any way we can to stick it back together. 

People talk about the importance of an open heart, but sometimes, depending on our past experiences, we can have huge fear around allowing that and so on some level we are never fully open to what comes our way.

What I understand today is that in order to truly accept love and give love; to feel both pain and joy; essentially to be fully connected with who we are; that outer case can not be present.  I believe that each time we experience that feeling of ‘heartbreak’ we are given an opportunity to open our hearts; to get to the root cause, learn why and ultimately understand what pain is being triggered; so we can then go on to release those attachments to the past. 

If we do not take the opportunity to explore our feelings each time something is triggered then there is the danger that all that sticking back together becomes more and more detached from reality and takes us further and further away from who we really are. 

As an example, and to draw on my own personal experience, the last time I had that feeling of real ‘heartbreak‘, although it was massively difficult, I allowed myself to go, not just on a voyage of discovery, but deep sea diving, to really understand and deal with the underlying pain that had been triggered. 

It took me some time to do that and today I understand fully that there was something that I had buried very deeply from my childhood, so painful, and harrowing that somehow it felt safer to keep it firmly in my subconscious.  What I allowed myself to acknowledge became the key to my freedom and although it took some processing I can not emphasise enough how liberating that was.  It was the final piece of a very complex jigsaw that I thought I had never fully had control over.  What I began to understand, and more importantly allow was a recognition that I had experienced an abuse of power in it’s severest form; and I guess the consequences of that and the lack of support and nurturing, to a degree, shaped my experiences with others for the good and the bad.

Although on an intellectual level I knew others projections were simply an outward shield to ensure nothing penetrated their own hearts, the cruelty that I encountered created such an internal battle I was kind of left with no choice but to face it head on or suffer.  Nothing and no-one has control over us unless we allow it.  As a child I was unable to control what happened to me and that is both sad and horrific, as an adult I now have a choice.  It is as a result of opening my own heart that I can fully embrace that. 

It is unfortunate that all too often we are taught to fear any kind of pain or allow our vulnerability to show so therefore we shut it out and in turn we continue to encase our hearts preventing them from ever really opening; conclusively we are only ever really depriving ourselves of the opportunity to fully connect, both within and without.  My sense is that it is not great for mind, body or spirit to continually punish either ourselves or others rather than face our own reality; I think as adults there has to be a point where we lay down both our internal and external swords if we are to achieve any kind of sustainable happiness.  In my experience, if we choose not to, then at some point we will be forced to, whether we like it or not.  I fail to see how any joy can be found in taking a path of continual resistance.

I do believe that when your heart is open it can not possibly break.  It can only enhance a deeper connection and understanding of the self.  It allows a more robust attitude and clarity in dealing with life’s challenges, projections and cruelty; but absolutely on the flip side it allows us to set our vulnerabilities free, so that we can live life with more intention, engagement, purpose and self empowerment.  It is true courage and strength, not weakness, that wholly exists in an open heart; and ultimately that can only lead to self acceptance, self forgiveness and self love.  Personally I am not sure anyone can argue with that.

I was recently coaching a client who had gone through a massive transition in their lives, but there was something stopping them from fully connecting with the person they had fought very hard to be, ultimately themselves.  I asked them what it would feel like to admit their vulnerability?  When they really thought about it and allowed themselves to fully encompass that feeling something released in them; quite simply they responded ‘it would be wonderful, it would allow me to feel connected and alive’.  That is a very real and viable choice!