The greatest act of courage is to be and to own all of who you are — without apology, without excuses, without masks to cover the truth of who you are. – Debbie Ford
What does it mean to truly open your heart to yourself?
Most of us spend the vast majority of our adult lives with closed hearts. Closed hearts to people, places, and things all around us. With so much routine and practice rooted into keeping our hearts closed to others, it can be difficult to open our hearts to ourselves.
Signs Your Heart Is Closed
If you have experienced some, any, or all of the signs below, you may have a closed heart. Do not be alarmed, most people experience a closed heart at one time or another in their lives. Not everyone has the strength and courage to try and make a change.
The first step in your journey to opening your heart to yourself, is recognizing you have a closed heart. Elizabeth Hunter Diamond, Clairvoyant and Energy Healer, has established the following symptoms of having a closed heart.
- Repressed Emotions: The first sign of a closed off heart is repressed emotions. Do you tend to keep your feelings bottled up tight? Do you constantly feel tension and friction when anything happens or takes place? Keeping your feelings locked up and unprocessed results in closing yourself off and not being able to connect to yourself or anyone in an authentic or deep way.
- Holding onto a Past or Toxic Relationship: Another sign of a closed off heart is the inability to let go of a past or unhealthy relationship. Letting go of these relationships can be very difficult and/or challenging for many different reasons.
You could be holding onto blame, anger, hurt, or you may be afraid you’ll never love again. Holding onto these types of relationships takes up space in your heart and fills it with negative energy. This makes it virtually impossible for anything positive or new to fill your heart.
- Your Needs Come Last: The next sign of a closed off heart is always putting your own needs last. Do you have a tendency to help and care for others even at the detriment of your own self? Neglecting your own needs unconsciously triggers and reinforces your mind’s beliefs that your needs are not important. If you feel that you’re not important, it’s unlikely that you will allow your heart to be opened even to yourself.
- You Push Others Away: Another sign of a closed off heart is pushing others away from you. Being afraid to allow others to be close to you and turning down true gestures of caring or kindness increases self-isolation and decreases authenticity.
- Shallow Chest Breathing: The final sign we will discuss in having a closed off heart is shallow chest breathing. This is a physical symptom of having a closed heart. This includes short inhales and exhales that are primarily only located in the upper chest area.
What Is An Open Heart
I want you to think of the human body as an automobile. Your feet are the wheels, your stomach is the fuel tank, your eyes are the headlights, and your heart is the engine. Your heart pumps blood throughout your body so you can live.
In order for it to function properly, the blood needs to be able to flow obstruction free. In a metaphysical way, you need to have your heart flow openly as well. According to Merriam-Webster, opening one’s heart is defined as, “to talk in a very open and honest way about one’s feelings” or “to begin to be generous and kind.”
What does it feel like when you have an open heart? Emotionally, you feel compassion, love, joy, and empathy. Physically, your chest should feel warm and relaxed. Mentally, you will have stable and linear thought patterns.
3 Keys To An Open Heart
Having an open heart involves much more than just simply saying, “I have an open heart.” In order to have an open heart one must be vulnerable, authentic, and practice gratitude. Having an open heart means understanding you are opening yourself up to rejection, disappointment, and hurt. Having an open heart also means living as though your heart can not be broken.
Think back to your most profound and fulfilling relationship. Were you cautious and closed off or were you completely unlocked in your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Usually in order to have the best relationships, we need to have an open heart. Before you can open your heart to others, you must first open your heart to yourself.
What does it mean then to truly open your heart to yourself? Most of us spend the vast majority of our adult lives with closed hearts. Closed hearts to people, places, and things all around us. With so much routine and practice rooted into keeping our heart closed to others, it can be difficult to open our hearts to ourselves.
The strongest relationship you should have is the relationship with yourself. Your relationship with yourself is the foundation of any and all other relationships you may have in your life. As such, it is important to develop an open heart with yourself.
You are not able to fall asleep one night and magically wake up the next morning with an open heart to yourself. You must make the conscious decision to propel yourself on a deep dive of your soul. You must dig deep within yourself and allow the journey to happen.
There are a multitude of ways to routinely practice having an open heart to yourself. Begin intertwining the actions below into your life so that they become an integral part of your daily routine.
Number One: Commit Yourself To Self-Care On All Levels
In order to develop an open heart with yourself, you must routinely practice physically, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally self-care. Physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Make doing an activity you love a regular practice (meditating, hiking, reading, writing, gardening, etc.). Organize your life around what brings you joy.
- Physically: You must look at yourself in your physical form. Are you providing everything your body needs to function at its very best? Are you eating well? Are you exercising? Do you look at yourself in the mirror and feel content or happy? If not, why not? In order to develop an open heart with yourself try some of these physical activities: take a hike, go for a swim, attend a fitness class, eliminate white carbohydrates from your diet, try a new hair style or shade of make-up.
- Spiritually: Next you must look at yourself in a spiritual sense. Are you connected to yourself? Can you understand why you do, think, say, and feel the way you do? How do you release the tensions of this world and focus on the greater picture that connects your life to all others?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions try any of the following spiritual activities: practice yoga, schedule a touch healing or Reiki session, attend a religious gathering, or simply take a walk in nature or view a sunset.
- Intellectually: Next you must look at yourself from an intellectual perspective. Intellectual learning includes active participation in scholastic, community, and or cultural activities. It is important to grow your intellectual well-being as it increases the skills and knowledge you need to live a fulfilled and successful life.
Are you continuously absorbing new knowledge? Are you learning and growing? If not, try any of the following activities: read for fun, learn a second language, practice a musical instrument, enroll in an educational based class or study course, do a crossword or Sudoku puzzle.
- Emotionally: Finally you must look at yourself from an emotional standpoint. How do you currently process emotions? Do you bottle them up and then explode? Do you ignore them or pretend they don’t exist? Do you immediately react to them? To open your heart means to welcome all of your emotions, even the challenging ones. Learning to feel your feelings and then process them in a healthy manner is the final step in learning to develop an open heart to yourself.
When feelings arise, you want to understand why they have appeared. Is it due to a current situation or past experience? Are you feeling sad, hurt, happy, or excited? Allow your body to feel the feelings and then take action to move on.
Physically moving your body from its current state into a new state, is an easy and effective way to process emotions. Dwelling on negative emotions for too long blocks your energy flow and stops your ability to receive love from yourself and others.
Number Two: Move Forward by Learning From the Past
In order to develop an open heart, you absolutely must shift your perspective on your past personal life. Allow yourself time to reflect and learn from your past relationships. Consider the following: What were you able to discover about yourself?
- How did the relationship help you grow as a person?
- What positive experiences or new thought processes have you developed or experienced because of that relationship?
- Were you able to gain clarity on what you want to attract and achieve in the future?
To allow your heart to open to yourself you must reflect on your past relationships and what they brought into your life. How did they change and shape you? Experiencing gratitude for your personal past, no matter how challenging or hurtful, will help open your heart to yourself.
Number Three: Practice and Perfect Your Breathing
Another way to develop an open heart to yourself, is to practice and perfect your breathing. Breathing is the physical process of opening your heart. This not only helps with the flow of blood throughout your body but, it helps form a connection to your emotion and spiritual levels. Connected breathing that focuses on expanding your chest is one technique for practicing your breathing.
Give it a try by following the steps below:
- Find a comfortable place to sit
- Place one hand directly on your stomach and one hand directly over your heart
- With each and every inhale, imagine your heart expanding larger and larger to receive love, joy, and appreciation
- With each and every exhale, relax in complete and utter peace
Continue this practice by completing the following three steps:
- Allow your shoulders to relax, thus relaxing your chest and heart. Allow any and all resistance to fall away. Nothing should be forced and you should be in a state rest
- Let go of the feeling of wanting people, things, and situations to be anything other than what they are. This will allow negative emotions to play out and drift away on their own.
- Understand and remind yourself that you are not your emotions nor your thoughts. You are simply the one who notices and identifies what those thoughts and emotions are.
Consciously and constantly completing this practice will allow your heart to open to yourself. Aim to try and complete this practice for 2-5 minutes every day. Take note of and notice any shifts in your thoughts, emotions, feelings, or experiences.
If you notice emotions emerging during your practice or after completion, do not fret, this is a good sign. The release of emotions indicates that old hurt, pain, anger and other bottle up tensions are leaving. Thus making room for more love, joy, and openness of heart for yourself.
Journey From Closed To Open
Opening your heart to yourself is no easy feat. It’s a never ending journey to allow yourself to live your best and most fulfilling life. Things will happen in life that will cause you to begin to close your heart again.
According to Michael Singer, author of, “The Untethered Soul, “When you start to close, just question if you’re really willing to give up your happiness. You should examine what it is inside of you that believes there’s some benefit to closing. The slightest thing happens to you, and you give away your happiness. You were having a great day until someone cut you off on your way to work. It got you really upset and you stayed that way the rest of the day. Why? Dare to ask yourself that question. What good came from letting it ruin your day? There was no benefit.”
Your mind is a powerful tool, potentially the most powerful tool ever available to you. It has the ability to rationalize almost anything. Even foolish, immoral, unethical, or nonfactual situations and experiences.
It has the ability to rationalize almost anything that you could ever want for others or for yourself. The most crucial choices however, come directly from your heart. The trick is to train your mind to be focused enough to move beyond any situation in which it thinks it needs to close off your heart.
Live By Your Heart
Dr. Martha Beck, fervidly describes what living by your heart means, in her essay “Set it Free.” She states, “As you learn to live by heart, every choice you make will become another way of telling your story, calling your tribe, and liberating not only your heart but the hearts of others. This is the very definition of love, the process that makes all-too-human people and societies capable of true humanity. It will chart you a life’s journey as unique and authentic as your fingerprint; send you out, full of hope and breathtaking exhilaration, onto paths you never thought you could travel. It is the way you were meant to exist. If you stop to listen, you’ll realize that your heart has been telling you so all along.”
What tremendous passion and power lies behind these words. You should read them again and again until they resonate with your soul. Once you learn to open your heart to yourself, you will become free and will begin to live your best life.