What if you could let more light in?
Have you found yourself thinking negative thoughts about other people in the past few days?
Is there someone out there who has pushed one of your buttons and gotten you agitated?
If so, you may notice that your compassion gas-tank is low and your heart feels closed to those around you.
This is what happens when the defenses around our hearts become rigid and stuck.
We become stuck in conflict with the world.
Notice when things feel difficult.
This is the first step to letting a light in, paying attention to when we feel under attack and shut down.
Notice when you feel critical of yourself and others.
Be aware of when you anticipate resistance from a group or a partner and tense up as a result.
Pay attention to the stories that you tell yourself about how the future will unfold and how others need to treat you.
All of these will point to a heart that’s closed.
What is a closed heart?
In my mind, it’s a heart that is more concerned with staying safe and unchanged than it is in communicating with clarity and vulnerability.
It’s that feeling we get when we think we can tell the future, and the future is negative.
It’s also the sense that only effort will bring about change, which makes us clench and tighten.
These are the things that make communication almost impossible.
Soften at the edges.
When I say “open your heart,” I don’t mean walk around assuming that everyone will treat you with fairness and compassion. That would be like walking into the tiger’s cage with steaks strapped to your body.
What I do mean is to soften at the edges and let down your guard just enough to let a little light in.
When our hearts are closed, the world become narrow, scary, and challenging.
We tend to berate ourselves, clench our teeth, and try to bend reality to our will.
If you’ve ever reached out to hold someone’s baby, or tried to approach a skittish animal, you know that the more tension and active energy you bring to it, the harder it will be for that baby or animal to trust you.
The same is true for people.
Soften first with yourself.
If you’re having challenges with another person, and you’re feeling criticized or attacked by them, take a moment to reflect on how you might normally talk to yourself.
If that’s too hard, then notice the next time you forget your keys or make a mistake. How do you talk to yourself?
Is it kind or is it critical?
Do you meet yourself with compassion, or do you tense up in frustration?
If you notice that you tend to say negative things (I know that I do), then see if you can practice giving yourself some space.
Soften and let some light in.
So many people are feeling stressed right now. There’s the pandemic, of course, and then there’s the uncertainty of the future as well, and both are contributing to this tension.
I also think that we have this expectation that we can just push our way through all the difficulties, and I think that’s adding to the pain.
Drop some of your defenses and let the light in.
Start with yourself, and give yourself the gift of acceptance. You’re human. This stuff is hard.
Then move on to whomever is bothering you. Notice if they are actually causing you harm, or if they are also struggling to connect and be understood. Are they just like you, reaching their fingers into the bars of a cage, hoping for a connection?
Can you let them in by listening to their story?
Can you be more honest with them about what you’re experiencing?
Maybe, just maybe, the narrowness will go away, and you will find that your communication becomes more free and easy.
We are all here to discover who we are, make genuine connections, and express ourselves to the world, and it’s ultimately what we’re best at.