What does ‘follow your heart’ mean and how do we know what our heart is guiding us to do?
We are advised to follow our heart because when we listen to our heart it allows us to tap into something that is beyond the mind, it is to know something that we usually don’t know why we know it. For some people listening to our heart can feel like they are deeply hearing their true self, their soul if you will.
“The best guidance on offer”
We listen to our heart or our inner guidance and then follow it, either because we trust, understand, or have learnt, that whatever we know at this moment, is the right thing for us to follow at this moment. From what everyone I have ever talked to have said, to follow our own heart/inner guidance always seems to work out the best.
“Things work our better…”
Probably the best motivation for following our heart is to avoid suffering. What I have clearly seen in my work is that when we are not following our heart, this eventually creates suffering in our lives. For example, I helped a lady who worked in business, but she knew she was guided to do another vocation. She chose to ignore her heart and by doing so, the pressure of ignoring her self was starting to create unhappiness and illness in her life, where her suffering served as a wakeup call to listen to her heart.
People can find it difficult to take full ownership and follow their heart. As it is a guidance that we can rarely verify, this not knowing of what will happen if I follow my heart can generate a tremendous amount of fear by the mind. This fear can stop people from further listening to their heart, and as before, leads to suffering.
Often when people make a conscious decision to start following their heart they don’t seem to hear much. I liken this to the following analogy; if we were to start ignoring a friend, the friend will lose interest in talking to us and will begin to ignore us also. If we suddenly change our mind and want to listen to the friend again, they will probably seem cautious and unenthusiastic to talk to us. It seems to take time to develop trust and to open communication again.
“The more we follow the more we hear”
It would be extremely stressful if we were to suddenly try to follow our heart and use it to guide us with impactful decisions like ‘Should I emigrate to Africa?’. However a more gentle and confident building start would be to listen to our heart with more mundane every day decisions including ‘What do I want to eat for dinner?’ or ‘Do I want to visit my friend?’ or ‘Should I watch this movie tonight?’
Each time we step out a little further into the unknown and follow what we are guided to do, we can look back in time and verify if we made the right choice in following our heart. This approach can greatly improve our confidence in following our heart, as we grow in trust and realise more deeply how wisely we are guided from within, which consequently allows us to hear more from our heart. It’s a positive growth cycle.
One simple way to know if we are listening to our heart is to understand that the heart does not give reasons. If you are directed to live in Spain ‘because it has nice weather and this and that …..’ then these are reasons. These are actually thoughts from the mind justifying why we should do something.
However the heart simply directs us with a sense or a feeling, for example ‘live in Spain’. That’s it. No why, no because or even promises of what will happen when we go there, just a simple direction. A direction that is felt or sensed in the body, an intuitive guidance if you will.
Possibly one of the biggest confusions we all face is the difference between our thoughts, wants and what the heart is speaking. It is a subtle but yet important difference. To want something usually carries with it an energy, sometimes very subtle, of grasping, almost a sense of desperation to have what I want to have.
“My Mind wants but the Heart directs”
This is in contrast to the guiding heart, for when the heart guides us to do something, one can sense that there is no heaviness, wanting, grasping or desperation surrounding the guidance. It is simply a direction offered to us, that one can sense or feel is rather neutral in its nature.
The subtle difference between our thoughts (mind), our wants and what our heart is telling us can take time to learn to distinguish between them. Even then, there are times when one cannot easily know the difference, for example, many psychic readers cannot see their own future, because they are aware that their reading is too heavily influenced by their own thoughts/desires about their future, and thus they cannot clearly hear their inner guidance for their own reading.
“It’s not what you think”
Some people have closed a part of themselves down by deciding never to trust their heart again, for they believed they have followed their heart and the results were disastrous. However upon guided investigation it seems that they were in fact following their thoughts and desires rather than distinguishing them from their heart’s guidance.
This can particularly occur in relationships, where people believed they followed their heart in a new relationship and got seriously hurt, but often it’s our hopes and dreams (thoughts) about how our life could be with this person that fuels our desires, which people can mistakenly follow as their heart’s guidance.
Finally, following our heart does not mean life will be all smooth sailing.
“Our heart can still guide us into difficult situations”
Sometimes our heart, our soul, guides us to experience situations that were very difficult and trying. But when we look back and see how we have grown, we can often see the reasons and justifications for why we had to have such experiences. In following our heart we can see how life, despite all the ups and downs, has a great capacity to take care of us.
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Published: January 2016