Do you struggle to open your heart to love? Does the thought of putting yourself out there send you into hiding?
If you’ve ever had your heart broken (who hasn’t?), wanting to protect yourself from potential hurt is an understandable reaction to the excruciating pain of heartbreak.
But if you carry this natural impulse for self-protection too far, you cut yourself off from not just potential hurt, but from the opportunity to grow. You opt-out of the wisdom and love offered you through the alchemy of relationship.
On the other hand, when you open your heart, you invite into your life ever-expanding aliveness, depth, and love.
What is it like to have an open heart?
You’ve likely experienced your heart open at some point. After all, having an open heart is not a fixed state. As we go about our lives, we have experiences that we can react to by opening or closing our hearts to varying degrees.
When your heart is open, physically your chest feels expanded, soft, and warm. Your body may feel light and relaxed.
Emotionally, you are able to meet whatever feelings arise within you with openness. You allow those feelings to cycle through without resisting their flow.
You’re inspired to extend empathy and compassion towards yourself and others.
You can still maintain healthy boundaries and have an open heart. In fact, a healthy open heart is able to be loving while practicing discernment, saying “no” when necessary.
Opening your heart is about authenticity.
Opening your heart is about taking a stand for your authentic self. Experiencing, revealing, and expressing your authentic nature becomes a priority.
You are motivated by a desire to be known and loved for the truth of who you are, in all your humanness, and to know and love someone else in the same way.
As a result, you are willing to face any fears, attitudes, and beliefs within you that hinder your free and authentic expression. You’re willing to confront the impulse to shut down. You choose to be vulnerable in spite of fear.
You know that the benefits of opening your heart to love greatly outweigh the risks of being hurt. Every time you choose to open your heart, you become more resilient and empowered. You expand your capacity for authentic connection and love.
How to open your heart:
1. Open your heart to yourself first.
Above all else, let your heart-opening be about you saying “yes” to you. Your relationship to yourself is the foundation and filter for all of your other relationships. When you open your heart to yourself, you open to experiencing yourself in new and expansive ways. Also, you become more available to receive the love of another.
Here are just a few ways to begin opening your heart to yourself:
- Commit to self-care on all levels of your being — 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.
- Embrace self-responsibility: be willing to see yourself clearly, and to acknowledge and take responsibility for your beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. Take active measures to align with your authentic self.
- Prioritize self-acceptance and self-compassion. When you can appreciate yourself as a holy work in progress — worthy of love with all your human foibles — then your heart is open and available for love and joy.
2. Create emotional flow.
If your heart has been closed, then you likely have stuck or repressed emotions that need to be released from your body in order to create space for love.
First, acknowledge that there are old emotions lurking in the shadows. Invite them to rise to the surface to be felt and freed.
Moving your body can help unleash the repressed emotions. Try dancing to music, or making gentle movements in water.
When feelings arise, allow yourself to feel them. You’ll discover that you don’t have to fear your emotions. They can be like the weather, passing through you for a time. You don’t have to resist them. You can remain connected to yourself as they go on their way.
3. Integrate wisdom from the past.
Opening your heart also involves shifting your perspective on your past. Take some time to reflect on your past relationships:
- What were the gifts of the relationship?
- In what ways did you grow?
- What did you discover about yourself?
- What clarity did you gain about what you want to create next?
When you’re able to receive and integrate the gifts of the relationship, no matter how painful or challenging it might have been, you open your heart to new love. Having gratitude for our past relationships expands our capacity for love.
4. Practice breathwork.
Breathwork is a simple yet potent way to open your heart. One technique is to engage connected breathing that expands your chest.
- Begin in a seated position.
- Place one hand on your heart and the other hand on your belly.
- With every inhale, imagine expanding your heart to receive love.
- With every exhale, relax in peace.
Try this practice for 2-5 minutes every day and notice any shifts in your experience of yourself. If emotions arise during or after your practice, this is a good sign. It means you’re releasing old energy and making space for more love in your life. Allow the emotions to flow to completion.
5. Ask for and receive support.
Many of us learned early on to be self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is a wonderful trait to have in life. However, sometimes self-sufficiency can mask a fear of disappointment or a belief in unworthiness.
To open your heart, practice asking for and receiving help from people you trust. In the process, you claim your worthiness of support and you open yourself to a deeper, more authentic connection with someone who cares for you.
In what ways would you like to be supported? Would you like someone to help you with your garden? Would you like someone’s feedback on a new project you’re working on? Would you enjoy a simple walk and talk with someone who feels safe and non-judgmental?
You can take baby steps and be gentle with yourself. Just one small shift in opening your heart can create a massive transformation in your experience of yourself and your ability to give and receive love.
If you’d like support in opening up to love, I offer a mini-course that is free. It takes you through the steps to become aware of and clear your limiting beliefs about love: How To Clear Limiting Beliefs About Love.
Or, join us for Manifesting Love! Let 2021 be the year you create the love you most long for.
Manifesting Love is a 5-week course to open yourself to the love you know you’re here to create. You’ll clear limiting beliefs about love. You’ll break old unhelpful relationship patterns. And you’ll create a new template for soul-nourishing love. Whether you’re single or in relationship, this course is for you if you want to up-level your experience of love. Each week we’ll meet by zoom for a live group coaching session. Daily prompts and activities will support your ongoing learning. In addition, there’s a private community forum where we’ll share our experiences and support each other as we heal and grow together. We begin on January 12, 2021. All the details are over here. I hope you’ll join us!