We only have one life to live and we should live it to the fullest. We live in an awesome, amazing, magical and magnificent world. Why then is not every single person on the planet singing from their rooftops surrounded only by things they enjoy?
The simple answer is that most people go through life having a closed heart to the world. This is a sad yet typical fact of our society today. Yet, it does not have to be this way.
Every single person has the power and ability to allow their heart to be open to the world. Why wouldn’t everyone want to experience the world to its highest level? Below we will discuss what constitutes a closed heart and the steps needed to open your heart to the world.
As we mentioned above, more and more people pass through their lives with a closed heart. What then does a having closed heart actually mean? A closed heart is when we are unable to live up to our full potential.
We keep our emotions and feelings inside and never allow them to be fully expressed. This creates negative side effects and causes the person harm. Not only does it cause the person harm but it can cause harm for those around them.
The International Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research published the paper “Consequences of Repression of Emotion: Physical Health, Mental Health and General Well Being.” This paper outlines the physical and mental health consequences that take place when a person represses their emotions. Increased stress and anxiety, suppression of the body’s immunity, and lower levels of ambition and commitment are all listed as side effects when suppressing emotions.
The American Psychological Association published a study that called attention to the negative social impact of emotional suppression by students on transition to college. It brought to light altered behavior of those students that others in their lives were able to observe.
Suppressing emotions has a direct correlation to not being able to develop connections with others and the inability to be truly likable. Suppressing emotions is one of the biggest symptoms of a closed heart.
Symptoms Of A Closed Heart
Other symptoms of a closed heart include the following:
The Fear Of Getting Hurt
This is what most people fixate on and what consciously allows them to close their heart. Life is made up of an endless journey of experiences. Some experiences in life will be filled with joy and happiness.
Other experiences will be filled with pain and sorrow. The fear of getting hurt is an animalistic instinct that appears to try and increase our likelihood of self-preservation. In order to open your heart to the world you need to push beyond the fear of getting hurt.
Getting Stuck In The Past
Getting stuck in memories of the past is another symptom of a closed heart. This is three prong; harboring guilt, not being able to forgive, and being unable to move forward
a| Harboring Guilt: Harboring guilt is one way we get stuck in the past. This is a universal trait that all people experience. Guilt happens when a person has regret, second thoughts, or feels bad about something they have said or done.
This can also arise when we have a difference of opinion between what others expect of us and what we want or wish to do. While thoughts of wanting to make amends for something you did after the fact is normal, dwelling on those feelings for an extended period of time is not healthy.
Holding onto guilt can result in physical pains of the stomach or a feeling of overall sickness. Holding onto these feelings increases negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions and holds us down under a powerful and useless weight. Guilt can sit, fester, and then multiple beyond all control. This closes us off to others and closes our heart to the world.
b| Being Unable to Forgive: Similar to harboring guilt internally, we have a tendency to harbor ill feelings towards the insults and injuries from our past. When we hold onto these feelings it is considered a grudge.
Everyone has a right to be upset and/or sad from being hurt. However holding onto these feelings will increase negativity and resentment. When this happens, our heart is closed to the world.
c| Inability to Move Forward: The inability to move forward is another way we get stuck in the past. We cling on to people, places, and things that have already happened. Once something happens it happens however, it is easier said than done when it comes to our memories.
Keeping yourself focusing on events in your life that have already happened will make you wish out on the gifts of the present and the joys of the future. The inability to move forward is a sign that our heart is closed.
Experience The World
The world is a big and beautiful place. We only have one life to live and we need to equip ourselves with the best tools to enjoy it. You’ll never know what is out there until you go, search for it, and discover it.
Take a peek at the bucket list below composed by Bucket List Journey:
- Go Gorilla Trekking
- Swim in a Lake of Jellyfish
- Volunteer at an Orphanage
- Cruise on a Junk Boat
- Go Alaskan Dog Sledding
- Sleep in an Ice Hotel
- See the Changing Guard in London
- Release Baby Turtles in the Ocean
- Dive the Great Barrier Reef
- Castle Hop in Ireland
Not up for adventure? Not a problem, the world has much more to offer right close to home. Below are amazing things the world has to offer right in your backyard
- Give Blood
- Walk a New Neighborhood
- Jump in the Car and Just Drive
- Visit a Local Park
- Visit the Library or Local Bookshop
- Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
- Join a Local Chapter and Meet New People
- Explore a Cemetery and Research Those Who Have Perished
In order to travel, explore, or simply enjoy the many amazing offers this world gives, you first need to open your heart to the world. This is not going to be an overnight quick change from closed to open.
You will need to practice, put in effort, and truly want to have an open heart. Begin to incorporate the below to your life to start the process of opening your heart up to the world:
6 Steps To Open Your Heart To The World
1| Determine The Problem, Challenge The Problem, And Move Forward From The Problem
The first step towards opening your heart is to determine the problem, challenge the problem, and move forward from the problem. In other words, figure out why your heart is closed, challenge why that is, and make a conscious effort to move on from it.
a| Determine the Problem: In order to open your heart you first need to determine why your heart is closed off. Before you can determine why your heart is closed you need to acknowledge your heart is closed. This may seem self-explanatory or as a given but, verbally acknowledging a problem is the first step to solving the problem.
Next, you need to figure out why your heart is closed. This means you will need to complete a deep dive into your past experiences. BMC Psychiatry, published a 2019 study that found a link between childhood trauma and unworthiness as an adult. Finally, you must come to the realization that the past is the past.
b| Challenge the Problem: Once you determine the problem you need to challenge the problem. First, take a realistic look at the problem. Why is your heart closed? Is it a concrete and factual problem or is it a problem that you just conjured in your head? Next look at the problem of your closed heart as an outside would.
If you told your best friend or close family member the problem, what advice would they give you? Lastly, make sure you understand that you are you and no one else. There is no need to compare yourself to anyone else. You have a unique background and experiences unlike anyone else’s.
c| Move Forward from the Problem: Once you challenge the problem that has your heart closed, you need to move forward from the problem. First is to take charge and overcome your negative feelings.
Anytime a thought enters your mind that isn’t positive or productive, think of ways to adjust it. Go for a walk, read a book, or simply tell the thought “No.” Next, learn to self-motivate. When something happens that you don’t agree with or a task appears that you don’t want to complete, think about the amazing benefits you will have the more and more you open your heart to the world. Focus on the end results.
2| Be Vulnerable
The next step in opening your heart to the world is giving yourself the ability to be vulnerable. Vulnerable is defined as, “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded.” Being vulnerable offers a sense of belonging and authenticity. It allows your heart to open to the world by offering glimpses into your very soul. Brene Brown, who is a TED speaker and vulnerability expert, describes being vulnerable as showing up and being seen.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s book ‘Big Magic’ brings the jarring truth front and center. The following is an extremely impactful passage from her book, “We all spend our 20s and 30s trying so hard to be perfect because we’re so worried what people will think of us. Then we get to our 40s and 50s and then we finally start to be free because we decide that we don’t care what anyone else thinks of us.”
Ways to be vulnerable include the following:
- Acknowledging, discussing, and learning from mistakes in your past
- Taking a chance even if you know the end result could lead to rejection
- Reconnecting with someone you are not on great terms with
3| Genuinely Take An Interest
The next step in opening your heart to the world is to truly be interested in people, places, and things. Make it a point to give specific examples and details when giving input in conversations and when conversing with others. Constantly ask questions.
When seeing a coworker at work first thing in the morning and asking them “How was your night,” don’t just let the conversation end with a simple, “it was good.” Ask them what they did, who they saw, what they cooked for dinner, etc.
Asking for more information and genuinely wanting to know will help build a bigger connection. This technique can be used with friends, family, every day acquaintances, and even one off or chance meetings with people.
Get creative with asking open ended questions and building conversation. Bring up a recent book or article you’ve read and see if they have read it too. Ask their favorite vacation spot or restaurant to eat at. Genuinely taking an interest in other people is a great way to open up your heart to the world.
4| Don’t Rush
Another step in opening your heart to the world is to take your time and not rush. Making big changes in your life is never easy and should never be rushed. Instead of focusing on opening your heart as quickly as possible, focus on the quality of the activities you are completing to open your heart.
Take the process day by day and even hour by hour if necessary. Do not fool yourself into thinking the princess of opening your heart needs to be completed in a certain time frame. The more quality time and effort you put into opening your heart to the world, the easier the process will become and the more open your heart will become.
5| Do Things That You Love
Another step in opening your heart to the world is to do things that you love. It’s absolutely impossible for other people to connect with you and for you to connect with the world if you don’t first connect with yourself. Connecting with yourself is a huge part of taking care of yourself and getting enjoyment out of your life.
If you enjoy adventure, do more adventurous activities. Climb a mountain, visit a new state, sky dive, or swim with sharks. If you enjoy relaxing time, do more relaxing. Go to a beach, read more books, or walk in nature. Being happy with your life and getting enjoyment out of it will help your heart open to the world.
6| Less Toughness
The last step in opening your heart to the world is to decrease your toughness. While certain situations require mental, emotional, or physical toughness, your guard does not need to be up twenty-four hours a day seven days a week for 52 weeks per year.
You don’t need to have all the answers to every question. You don’t need to be perfectly put together every moment of every day. You don’t need to puff your feathers. You don’t need to be king or queen of the hill. Decreasing your toughness is another way to help open your heart to the world.
Your Heart And The World
Your life is your own. You alone have the ability to write the chapters in your story. Your life is a gift and you should do everything in your power not to waste it. Having a closed off heart will not allow you to experience all the wonders of the world.
You have the power to turn your closed heart into an open one. Do this by tackling the heart’s problem head on, being vulnerable, genuinely taking an interest in, not rushing, doing things you love, and becoming less tough. Follow these steps to open up your heart to the world and begin living your very best life.