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7 Ways To Open Your Heart to The World

7 Ways To Open Your Heart to The World

We often close ourselves off when traumatic events happen in our lives; instead of letting the world soften us, we let it drive us deeper into ourselves. We try to deflect the hurt and pain by pretending it doesn’t exist, but although we can try this all we want, in the end, we can’t hide from ourselves. We need to learn to open our hearts to the potentials of life and let the world soften us.

Whenever we start to let our fears and seriousness get the best of us, we should take a step back and re-evaluate our behavior. The items listed below are seven ways you can open your heart more fully and completely.

1. Breathe into pain

Whenever a painful situation arises in your life, try to embrace it instead of running away or trying to mask the hurt. When the sadness strikes, take a deep breath and lean into it. When we run away from sadness that’s unfolding in our lives, it gets stronger and more real. We take an emotion that’s fleeting and make it a solid event, instead of something that passes through us.

By utilizing our breath we soften our experiences. If we dam them up, our lives will stagnate, but when we keep them flowing, we allow more newness and greater experiences to blossom.

2. Embrace the uncomfortable

We all know what that twinge of anxiety feels like. We know how fear feels in our bodies: the tension in our necks, the tightness in our stomachs, etc. We can practice leaning into these feelings of discomfort and let them show us where we need to go.

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The initial impulse is to run away — to try and suppress these feelings by not acknowledging them. When we do this, we close ourselves off to the parts of our lives that we need to experience most. The next time you have this feeling of being truly uncomfortable, do yourself a favor and lean into the feeling. Act in spite of the fear.

3. Ask your heart what it wants

We’re often confused at the next step to take, making pros and cons lists until our eyes bleed and our brains are sore. Instead of always taking this approach, what if we engaged a new part of ourselves that isn’t usually involved in the decision making process?

I know we’ve all felt decisions or actions that we had to take simply due to our “gut” impulses: when asked, we can’t explain the reasons behind doing so — just a deep knowing that it had to get done. This instinct is the part of ourselves we’re approaching for answers.

To start this process, take few deep breaths then ask, “Heart, what decision should I make here? What action feels the most right?”

See what comes up, then engage and evaluate the outcome.

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4. Engage your shadow

Many of us who are on the personal development path get caught up in embracing characteristics we want to have, like happiness, compassion, love, and passion. In this pursuit we end up losing parts of ourselves that make us whole, such as suppressing our negative qualities instead of engaging them. Try asking yourself a few questions:

What parts of myself could I do without?

How do I get in my own way?

Is there anything I’m hiding from myself?

Don’t be afraid of what comes out; you might want to run from the answers, but instead, acknowledge them and be with them as much as possible. Once you’re a little clearer about what exactly you’ve been hiding, from it gets easier to shine your light on it.

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5. Follow your bliss

For this next step, we’re going to take a cue from the famed mythologist Joseph Campbell. A thread that always remains true throughout his work is the idea of following your bliss. This means engaging and trusting your highest excitement, and letting the deeper pull take you into a new direction, even if you don’t think you’re ready yet.

The term bliss doesn’t mean continuous happiness; instead, it refers to a higher calling. Trust that this will carry you in times of need, and open yourself to be filled with your own bliss.

6. Spend time alone

For most of our lives we’re surrounded by people: our friends, colleagues, peers, family members, loved ones, and strangers. How often do we really spend time alone?

When you spend time in solitude, you’re free from the influences of other people, and can truly open yourself and explore whatever you’d like. See where your thoughts take you. The golden ticket here is to not let yourself become distracted; just see what it’s like to be alone.

It might be painful or even scary at first, but by opening yourself up to these new feelings, you’ll add a whole new layer of depth, experience, and understanding into your life.

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7. Get outside of yourself

This may seem a little contradictory to the last tip, but in reality, they actually work hand-in-hand. After you’ve explored the depths of yourself, you come away with a new understanding.

Now, it’s time to share that — not through telling others, but through being with others.

When you’re in a group of people, try to give them your full energy and attention so you can understand them just as you did yourself. Appreciate their uniqueness, as if they are an extension of you. Lose yourself in the beauty of others; see what they can teach you about yourself.

Remember, there’s no need to do every one of these at the same time. Take each one a day at a time, determine which work best for you, and see what you can discover.

More by this author

Kevin Wood

Kevin Wood is a passionate writer who shares mental and spiritual advice on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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