03 July 2011

FINDING THE COURAGE TO FOLLOW YOUR HEART

The choice to follow our heart and do what we truly want in life, can be a challenging one. It shouldn't be, but it is. It requires courage, commitment, inner strength and fearlessness, and as a result it is a path that is often not pursued. Rather than listening to that deep inner yearning to do what we love, many of us instead suppress and deny these feelings. We would rather choose a life that does not deeply fulfill us simply because it provides security, predictability, safety and approval from others.

Why do we not follow our hearts?
Our society today is driven by our minds, our fear and our ego. We do not place value and emphasis on passion, love, fulfillment and spiritual purpose. Rather it is about external success, money, security, stability and reputation. As a result many of us do not feel it is that important to really tune in to our hearts and hear what it wants. We are too busy trying to get ahead and make something of ourselves in this world. 

You see, the heart is free and wild and is driven by love. The head is practical and analytical and is often driven by fear. Your head will tell you what needs to be done to remain safe in the world - to get the money you want, the approval you crave and the predictability you think you need. 

Head vs Heart
This is why when you attempt to start following your heart, your head will be very quick to thwart your actions. This fearful mind, often called the ego, will bring up all the reasons why you cannot do what you desire, and why it is a ludicrous idea to even think about it. It will trigger memories and feelings from the past of failures, hurts and rejections that add even more power to the case that it is better to just stay where you are. 

The path that your heart calls you towards may be an unconventional one. It may be scary and involve taking risks. Following your heart often requires us to take a detour from the well trodden path, and rebel from societal or family expectations in order to find our inner fulfilment. It can be a long and lonely road initially. Often we must be willing to look at our life honestly and really evaluate what parts of it we love and which parts of it we don't.

Your heart's desire may not have an initial guarantee of income, or it may require a pay cut. It may mean that you have to go against what your family wants for you, or what your friends expect of you. It may mean facing your fears and doing something that you love, yet are petrified of at the same time. It may mean forgoing the approval you received from always doing what others wanted you to do. It will require you to be different, to do things differently. It will mean learning to listen to a deep inner voice, rather than the loud forceful voices of the outer world

People following their hearts are often called 'hippies' or 'free-spirits' and are seen a unconventional and non-conformists. I have grown accustomed to being called 'different' or even 'weird.' In actual truth, these people are none of that. They are actually living the way we were meant to live. They are tapped in to their truth, living and breathing it daily and doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing with their lives. 

The decision to follow your heart is a journey. If you have been living a life that is not heart driven, the decision to follow your heart will most likely turn your world on it's head. It may be a scary road, but in my opinion this is what life is all about.

My journey to a heart driven life
I will never forget when this journey started for me. For years I worked in jobs that did not satisfy me. I did not know who I was and I often felt sad and empty. I had just quit yet another job that I hated when I got offered tickets to an Anthony Robbins seminar. They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears... Well, my teacher came in the form of a giant man with huge hands and a booming voice. I am not exactly sure what it was about this experience, but something about that weekend changed me. I came back to my normal life, a different person. That weekend I got a glimpse of what life was really about, and what life could really be like. It is was first time I realised, that I could in fact be, do or have anything. That was 4 years ago now and when I look back on it, I can see that it was a turning point in my life and the catalyst for me to reconnect with my heart and listen. 

Since that time, I have been through many changes, and the path has not been smooth. Without even realising it, during that weekend I made a new commitment to myself - to find my heart's purpose and live it, no matter what. This unconscious decision kick started a chain of powerful events which unfolded over the coming years. It caused me to end a relationship which I realised was not right for me, I packed up my life and travelled the world, and I left a city that I loved to move back to my home town so that I could embark on several years of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual cleansing. 

This process has involved questioning everything I know about myself in order to find my truth. It has not been an easy few years and it took a lot of courage, as well as much letting go. Those of you who have been reading my blog since it's conception would know all about the challenges I experienced. This blog served as both my journal and my crutch through that time.

Are you following your heart?
I come across people all the time who have these amazing, beautiful dreams and desires, but they suppress and ignore them and tell themselves they can never have them. For most people, it is much easier to live in denial, than actually face what it is that they really want. They would rather pretend they are happy with what they have and pretend that their inner dreams are not that important to them any way.

Is it time you got honest with yourself? Is it time to dig deep inside and find out what you really want from this life? Is it time to stop pretending? Take a look inside your heart and ask yourself what you would love to do more than anything else in the world. If it does not scare the crap out of you, then it is probably not it. The dreams that come from your heart should scare you and they should challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and in to a whole new level of being. 

You must start by finding the courage to find out what your heart wants. It may be a scary process, as you may likely reveal that what you heart wants, is in fact  the complete opposite of what you are actually doing. You may experience feelings of confusion, self-doubt and even regret as you begin to challenge everything you have come to know about yourself. If you are ready to connect with your heart and follow it's calling then you will need to let go of everything you think you know.

Take inventory of what you love in life. These things may not necessarily culminate in to a complete picture or path, but that is ok. Simply start to connect with your heart energy. Start to get curious. Turn inward and ask yourself if you are living authentically, truly in line with your values. Is your heart singing with passion, fulfilment and purpose every day?

If following your heart is so challenging, why do it?
Sometimes I watch people as they go to work, or go about their daily lives. You can see it in someones face, eyes and body posture whether or not they are following their heart and doing what they love. I am always interested to watch older people, as you can see whether or not through the course of their lives that they have given up on their dreams. They walk around with dull, lifeless eyes, a sad or angry expression and their shoulders are slumped. They look like they are simply living and doing what they are doing because they have to. They have 'obligation' written all over them. It is these people who have given up on their dreams and become resigned to the fact that their hearts desires are nothing but a fantasy.

This is not what life is about, and this is not how we are meant to live. It saddens me we have forgotten this. We no longer believe that anything is possible for us, rather we just take what we can get. Our minds and our belief systems keep us chained to an empty dream devoid of love, passion and meaning.

I believe it is time for each of us to wake up and connect with what we really want. And then we need to act on it. We need to take risks and have the courage to move toward our goals fearlessly with 100% commitment. In order to do this, we must be willing to be different, to do things differently and to challenge the expectations that others hold of us. When you begin to follow your heart, you must realise that anything that is not line with your heart's calling will start to fall away.

We each have a unique gift, talent or service to bring to this world. It may be small, it may be big, but the key to discovering what it is, is tuning in to your heart and finding out what you love. I believe that we are reaching a turning point in our society and people are starting to wake up.

If nothing in this post resonates with you, and you are happy in your life, then that is ok.  Or maybe you are already living a heart driven life, and if so, then that is awesome. But if reading this stirs something inside of you, births new dreams and creates feelings inside your heart, then you know it is time to listen. A life of following you heart may be challenging, but the rewards your will receive will be enough to make it all worth it.

Note: I will soon be launching a series of posts called the "Follow Your Heart" series. I will be profiling people (primarily women) that I know who have been willing to embark on this journey and let go of old ways of being so that they can start following their heart. This will be an opportunity for people who are living this way to share their journey and their secrets and to hopefully inspire others to live this way too. I already have many inspiring women in my life who I know are living like this and who I intend to profile (so if you know you are one of them, I will be in touch with you soon!). But if you are living a heart-driven life and you wish to share your story on my blog, please email me at connie.chapman@live.com.

12 comments:

  1. I feel like I havent visited your blog in ages!!! I read all pending posts and I feel much better I have to say. I'm going through such a weird period, I was very anxious and nervous lately. So it was good to read your posts to shift my feelings and energy! I hope you could help me to shift my feeling from disappointment to sth better towards one person who acts bizarre lately... that would be so helpful.

    Once again thank you so much for your positive articles!

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  2. I think it is one of my bigest fears: forgetting to follow my heart and getting stuck in the daily grind because i'm just comfortable in it....
    I'm ready to take on this challenge :)
    Thanks Connie for such an inspiring blog.

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  3. OMG Connie!!! Seriously FREAKKY...!! I was going to write a blog on EXACTLY this topic today....!! "Why is it SO hard to do what we LOVE?!"...yet my WordPress blog is down, God love it! :) Our connection and similar vibe is at times uncannily freakkish!

    Thanks for writing this piece hun!

    Will share it on Facey!

    LOTSA LOVE! oxoxoxo

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  4. Incredibly inspiring!

    Sometimes it's hard because many of us know in our hearts what we truly desire but just are not sure how to go about obtaining it, doing it, or getting to where we want to be.

    I'm going through a lot at the moment, so many changes between health issues this year and being laid off. Yet many a day I think this is lifes way of telling me to follow my dreams and stop settling for what I think I should do. So this post today provided much need inspiration and I look forward to reading more such posts.

    Thanks!

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  5. wow---thank you for this article---this clears a lot of the confusion in deciding between the head and the heart---thank you again for your wonderful , enlightening insights and the wisdom you shared :)

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  6. Such a needed reminder. Thanks

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  7. I couldn't agree with you more. For me, there were several things within the course of just a few months that has inspired me to follow my heart more. I do believe that we let our internal conversations talk of out of many things. In this economy, many of us are scared to death to let go of a check in hand, even when our eyes glaze over at the thought of going to our present jobs. But, even if it is just baby steps every day, I have been trying to go forward and follow my heart more all of the time!

    Diane

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  8. Beautifully written! Awesome :)

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  9. I'm currently a college athlete and I cannot stand my coach and team. Every day I go to practice it reminds me of how much I don't want to be here. There's so much BS on this team. The coach plays favorites, doesn't listen to what I have to say, and only cares about winning. My sport in an individual one so I can train on my own. After reading your blog something inside me is saying leave the team, do things my way. I think I'm going to follow my heart!

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  10. Very inspiring... I stepped out from my comfort zone only few days ago. I had such beautiful life, expensive stuffs, lived with someone who loves me either his family.
    From the day one I met this guy my inner voice said I wouldn't able to put up with him ( even before I get to know him ). But he was very nice and not giving up to get me to be with him. To see his serious action I started to deny my inner voice and listen more to my head and my ego.
    During the relationship I often cried and I asked my self why I didn't listen to my heart that this guy was not right for me. We had a lot of arguments, fights, even we always fix it and make it up its been always ups and down.
    He was very kind, generous, funny but far from being affectionate which I need the most.
    I kept on deny my inner voice to leave him because the comfort life I had and the future that I held in my hand if I was with him as I worked in his company holding important position.
    Today I listen to my heart, I left everything, even I still don't know where it takes me but I believe it's for the best and important not to let my heart suffer any longer.
    It's hurt to let go of something but everybody has strength and faith is the the power.
    I believe eventually I will find happiness by follow my heart...

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  11. Wow...truly hit a spot in me. I am considering a mid career path change but will mean a 50% pay cut. I have a family to feed and am not so young and I am scare to make this move. Time and again, I shelve my idea and told myself that I must be crazy to even think of it. But again and again, I get into modes of depression at work and stages of confusion.
    Your article inspired me to take that leap of faith. Thank you! :)

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