From the title of this blog, you might already be thinking, how can it be bad advice to listen to your heart? Is it really bad advice to be in (deeper) relationship with your heart or to allow your heart to lead in various ways at various times? Of course not! It is a beautiful lifelong intention to become more and more related to your heart.
But why I think it’s bad advice to make a blanket statement (or IG post) to “just follow your heart” or “your heart knows best” is because, baked into that advice are so many unconscious assumptions & implications, and this kind of trite advice is a vast oversimplification of what it truly means to Listen To Your Heart.
The truth is, most people have not spent nearly enough time, or put enough attention and intention into, actually being in deep relationship with their own heart to know whether they are actually ‘listening to their heart’, or hearing some passing whim or past trauma, they’re calling ‘their heart’. So the idea that we should just follow our hearts is essentially like pointing to a random person on the street and deciding to follow them, or pointing to a thought leader who seems to say some useful things some of the time and saying, “I’m going to follow what they say all the time”.
In order to be able to truly Follow Our Heart, we must start by being deeply related & connected with our own heart.
This takes time & attention; this takes patience & curiosity.
This takes courage.
We shouldn’t follow our hearts blindly
Before we can trust our heart to lead us in the right direction, we need to get to know our heart, learn our heart’s inner workings, and deeply understand their state of being. It’s not enough to simply hear what they are telling us – we must also understand why.
This is not a short-term process – it takes consistent practice, over time, in which we regularly check in on our hearts the way we would if we were getting to know another human we wanted to be in deep relationship with, another human we want to trust & be trusted by.
We need to make a regular practice of checking in with our heart: “Hello. How are you feeling? Is there anything you’d like to share with me? Is there anything you would like me to see, hear, feel, or receive?”
Before we start making demands on our heart like, “Guide me on whether I should date this person. Tell me what I should eat today. Or, should I agree to take on this project at work?” we must get to know our hearts.
We would never think we could, or should, immediately start asking, demanding, a new friend to give us guidance in every area of our life without first getting to know them and spending time with them. Even if we have known a person for a long time, we generally don’t call them up & immediately begin asking for advice, without first saying ‘hi’ & asking how they are doing. It’s actually rude to demand this of our own heart.
This kind of relationship that we build over time is what enables us to actually hear and listen with discerning senses.
We learn how to distinguish between what is actually our heart speaking vs. our habits, trauma, and gut reactions.
Then we can take it even further and learn how to discern whether our heart is speaking from our deepest truth or if there is another element of nuance that could be clouding our heart’s ability to reach the depths of authenticity. We also learn what our heart needs to feel nourished & resourced enough to offer the kind of guidance we truly desire from our heart.
Maintain curiosity at every step along your path.
You may be one of the few who actually has spent a lot of time getting in deep deep relationship with your heart, including both the organ of your body, as well as your energetic heart-space, and the archetypical heart center of your being.
Maybe you are one of the few who have truly spent time getting to know your own heart, listening, inquiring, and actually engaging in a two-way dialogue.
Even if you are one of those people, you shouldn’t do everything your heart tells you to do without question. Following your heart without some nuanced inquiry still has the potential to lead you astray no matter how well you know your heart.
Think about who you go to for advice in your life. There are certain things you’d ask your partner about but that wouldn’t be useful to ask your mentor. Some problems are best suited for advice from a long-term friend, or perhaps a parent. And some questions are best posed to a therapist or counselor.
How we decide who to go to for advice largely depends on our understanding of where their responses and reactions will come from.
This is exactly what I see in our relationship with our heart. Just as there is no one person in your life whose advice you would always follow, no questions asked, you can’t always just follow your heart.
Your body has a board of competent directors, and they have to work together.
The truth is, that only following any ONE person, or part of ourselves, will always be limited. There is wisdom in seeking outside of ourselves for insight, perspective, and advice. There is also enormous wisdom in seeking within ourselves – and including ALL the wisdom of our body & being. Not only is it important that we become more deeply related to each of these parts, but it is essential that we facilitate connection between them!
When I work with people, whether in groups or 1:1, I always bring this holistic perspective. One of the main places where I dive deep with people on integrating their relationship between all the parts of their being is within my Fierce Grace Incubator, which is specifically designed to hold the dualities and pluralities and polarities of our lives so that we can weave the threads of our lives together into the most beautiful tapestry.
Part of this journey is learning how to actually come into deep relationship with our minds, our hearts, our emotions, our physical bodies, our energetic bodies, our voices, our guts, our spines, and our solar plexus. All these parts of us are more like a board of directors with equal value, rather than having the heart or the brain as the CEO, holding more power over the rest. Each individual part of our being is valuable and intelligent in its own way, and each part wants the best for us at all times.
As humans, we tend to pendulate between poles – “The head is more important! No! The heart has more wisdom!” – rather than allowing for the natural ebb & flow, inhale & exhale, action & rest. We have a tendency to shift between extremes, believing each one to be more ‘right’ than the one before. Integration is the deep work that allows us to flow with more ease, rather than being pulled off balance by the polarities.
When we learn not to pendulate so drastically, and instead linger in the realm of knowing that your brain, your body, and your gut are all wise, then we can move towards a more gentle wave cycle, which will stabilize us and provide much more clarity moving forwards.
Cultivating success, happiness, fulfillment, or whatever it is you’re looking for in life comes through the integration of all of these parts.
We have to work with the wholeness that is created as a result of this integration, rather than swinging back and forth on these pendulatons between listening to your heart, to your brain, to your gut, and back to your heart again. Understand that all our parts are actually pieces of a whole, and as one being they work together to provide the best advice, the best path forward, and the best life for you.
Integrating all of your parts requires putting the time, attention, and intention into cultivating a deep relationship with each part individually.
It’s easy to feel that we already know our heart because we’ve had it our whole lives, but it is simply impossible to truly know it, understand it, and be one with it if we have never taken the time to get connected and stay connected. The same goes for our brains, our bodies, our guts, and all parts of our being.
Once we do put in this time & attention, we create an unstoppable ‘board of directors’ that is with us at all times, and truly has our best interest at all times — and that we can turn to for support on everything from how to navigate our intimate relationships, to making the best decisions in our business.
This is the place of our True Unshakable Power.
If you’d like to dive deeper into this topic, I have a free, on-demand class called “Untame Your Body: Unleash Your Deepest Wisdom“.