I used to hold onto everything.
If somebody had hurt me, I would carry this into other situations, like a swag bag of distrust and passive aggressive behaviour.
When something didn’t work out in my favor—such as a good outcome from countless job applications, success on funding applications, or receiving a favorable response to new ideas pitched for a project—I would take each hit personally and lose enthusiasm or the belief to carry on trying.
When I was in jobs, I would attach my value to my manager’s perception of me, not the work I was delivering, or the plaudits that others would give me. I would keep thoughts and ideas to myself, as I believed they were worthless, when in fact they would have benefited the organisation and colleagues.
If a girl rejected me, then all girls would reject me. I allowed myself to be mistreated. I stayed in damaging and psychologically abusive relationships, because I believed the other person in the relationship validated my self-worth. I would worry about money all the time, stressing about the things I cannot buy, or haven’t got, rather than focus on what I have.
This worry affected many aspects of my life as an eternal source of unhappiness, low value, and attachment to a societal status, or perceived lack thereof. I felt like an empty vessel floating through life, sinking with each weight that would compound my thoughts, barely being able to stay afloat.
During all of this, I missed the path that my heart was attempting to guide me on, never listening and only continuing to hurt my heart.
When we fall in love, we feel our heart flutter, beat loudly, or leap for joy. When we’re rejected, our hearts break. We are called heartless or cold-hearted when we show no care or love, and big-hearted when we extend our concern to others.
We “take things to heart” or “talk heart-to-heart” about deeply personal issues. We love someone “from the bottom of our heart” but are “half-hearted” about something when we’re emotionally uninvolved. We experience our heart as the centre of our feelings. We avoid using the heart when it comes to making big decisions.
There is great brilliance and beauty inherent within the mind, because it is capable of understanding the most intricate scientific and mathematical theories and can make complicated corporate decisions. Yet the same mind can get caught up in trivia and nonsense, becoming upset or even unglued over a seemingly harmless remark.
It runs our life, pushing and pulling us in all directions, from attraction to repulsion, creating endless dramas in acting out our insecurities and fears, because it is not in touch with our deeper feelings.
Living inside of our heads all the time is actually not much fun, we miss the present moment. While the mind is the content of who we are, our heart is the essence of our being.
Our true heart is not subject to chaos or limited by pain, fear, and neuroses. Our true heart is joyful, creative, and loving. Some believe the heart can be too uncertain and even misguided, but that is the head talking. It is actually a source of great richness, and this wealth is one that cannot be squandered or lost. It is the core, the essence of our being, a reservoir of joy, powerful love, and infinite compassion that lies within us.
I am now in a situation where taking action is the only way I am able to get anything done or experience any of the beauties life can bestow upon me. I can no longer listen to that voice.
If I want to meet new people, I have to go and approach them. If I want to make any connections I have to face the possibility of rejection. If I want to see or go somewhere, then I have to arrange it. If I want to finance myself, then I have to take the time to build and learn new skills, and constantly put myself out there.
This brings learnings about new cultures, families, abilities, and perseverance. I am learning about the difference, and similarities we have throughout humanity and it is such a blessing, to travel has been the greatest gift given to me, and one which I used to envisage as impossible for many years.
My time in London showed me my minds fears, my time in Nepal has shown me my hearts path. But you don’t need to travel to the other side of the world to find your answers, they all lie within.
Learning to listen to our instincts and lean into fear will deliver more experiences, rewards, and answers than searching outward. You can travel the world and never leave your mind. Follow your heart, and bring your head with you.
Five ways which have helped me break that cycle are.
1. Speaking to strangers.
I cannot stress this enough, whether it is the person next to you on the train journey, the person in a queue with you, the person you like the appearance of, or the person you are confused by. The chances of ever meeting anybody in your life is slim to none. Take this opportunity to connect with minimal risk, in terms of embarrassment. I use a happiness chart with people when I travel, which allows me to engage with almost everybody. It is very simple. By doing this you break down so many preconceptions of fear your mind builds up, you lean into fear and you get rewarded with growth, conversations, and connections.
2. Letting go of expectations.
This is crucial especially when we travel: Going into places with expectations either leads to disappointment, or the expectation is met, and there’s a lack of continued adventure for what could be. On a relationship level, it can lead to dependency or projection your baggage onto another. In work, this can lead to forming new ideas and not being precious. By letting go, you can go in with an open mind and open heart. Allow for life to happen and be presented with opportunities and people that only come with letting go and being present.
3. Being present.
The past is done, the future is yet to come. The past has shaped who you are today, but does not control who you are, the future will be shaped by the thoughts and actions you have today. In each moment there are lessons, gifts, experiences, and people. When you are enjoying a Sunday evening movie, don’t think about the work project due to begin on Monday. When you are with a beautiful person, don’t think about losing them or when they will be gone, enjoy that moment. Now is all that matters and all that you can control.
4. Allow the difficulties.
Adversity is our teacher, our guide, and brings our strength. If you feel pain, allow it, don’t project it, don’t hide from it, don’t think it is wrong. We are all human. We share human emotions and experiences and we will all hurt and have bad days, weeks, months. This is fine, we have to be kind on ourselves, understand what is bringing the pain, and why it affects us, and learn from the adversity to build our resilience.
5. Meditating and Visualisation.
Meditation helps clear the mind, helps center the focus, and helps us to be present. It brings calm to chaos and is good for the mind and body. It is difficult to get started, but even harder to give up once you have begun. Visualisation allows us to see our future, what we want to be doing, and the person we want to be. We can then work backward and understand the processes it takes to achieve a goal, whether small or large. If we visualise our success for 10 minutes every day, we begin to understand the action we need to take to manifest our plans.
Author: Leroy-Winston Scott
Image: Sarah Cervantes / Unsplash
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy editor: Caitlin Oriel
Social Editor: Emily Bartran