Bringing our whole heart does not mean bringing 25 percent of a heart (or somewhat more or even less)
Think of a being you deeply cherish, maybe it is a person, maybe it is a cherished pet. Take a moment to feel the presence of this being, to feel the warmth you feel toward this being, the joy, the delight. What do you wish for this being? What does your heart wish for this being? Connect to the feelings imbued in this wish.
Okay, now staying connected to your feelings of cherishing this being and of goodwill toward them, tell me, if this being had some vulnerability (which all beings have), some difficulty, even some quirk, would you wish that this being would come to the conclusion, “Because of this vulnerability, difficulty, or thing I have experienced, I am worthy of receiving only 25 percent of a heart, or or receiving only 5 percent friendliness, or 15 percent support, or 50 percent acceptance but nothing more?”
It is highly likely that your answer would be, no. You would not wish this for this being whom you so deeply cherish to feel so unworthy and undeserving.
And yet, this feeling of being worthy of only a part of a heart (if any heart at all) is something many people experience inside themselves, toward themselves, over and over again. And this experience occurs among people of many many different ages doing many many different types of activities (student, business person, artist, musician, nurse, physician, therapist, military member, veteran, cleaner, mechanic, public services worker, and on and on it goes….).
Recognizing that we insticintively would not wish this feeling of unworthiness for a cherished being leads to what I mean by the idea of giving “my whole heart for my whole life”. When we learn to give ourselves our whole hearts, we are learning to give 100 percent of our heartfulness toward ourselves, not only 8 percent; we are learning how to not let limits be placed on our heartful presence toward our experiences, our beings, our lives.
Self-criticism can be obviously noticeable or it can be subtle and seem to sneak in. Each time we notice it, we are met with an opportunity to decide what to do next. It takes time to learn to figure out what to do next, as well as to feel worthy of bringing in one’s whole heart (to feel worthy of bringing in kindness, acceptance, courage, wisdom, support).
Interestingly, our whole heart can show up for the self-criticism and/or shame as well. After all, the shame and self-criticism is part of the “my whole heart” aspect of the equation. Our whole heart can notice the self-criticism, meet it gently, and not criticize ourselves further because the self-criticism is there.
My wish: may you bring to yourself your whole heart. You are worthy.
Photo by Tracy Riley, 2016.
Posted in Articles, Compassion, Self-Compassion, Working with Emotion