Back this summer, after a trying day where people around me had taken my good spirits and trashed them particularly roughly, I wrote something in my phone about the way I wanted to live life going forward. I wrote: “I want to be so full of love and kindness for myself and others that bad days, other people’s behavior and words, and the world at large can’t even put a dent in those feelings.”
See, 2020 forced me to look inside myself and reckon with the parts of myself that I’m not happy with. I let go of a lot of expectations I had adopted (from society, friends and others that have influenced me), and I started being honest with myself about goals, who I am and who I want to be. I did a lot of the inner work, and started waking up lighter and happier. But then the day would go on, and everyone else’s stress, negativity, and unkind words or harsh responses would wear me down. By 5pm, I’d be near tears, wondering how everything I do or say can be so wrong to so many people.
After this particular rough day, I wrote this in my phone about what I truly wanted to feel. “I want to be so full of love and kindness for myself and others that bad days, other people’s behavior and words, and the world at large can’t even put a dent in those feelings.” I went back to it over and over the second half of the year, but without any real progress on how to make it true. I spent a few months trying to just put up some walls, to keep people’s negativity away from me, but that just made me feel less like myself. The best version of me has an open heart – sensitive yes, but open, loving and ready to feel the world and all it has to offer. One of my favorite quotes is “the open heart sees, feels, and absorbs the beauty of the world.” I think there is beauty in just about everything, if we’re willing to look for it, and I want to see and feel it all. But having an open heart can lead to a lot of hurt, when you let in the negativity out in the world at the same time as the beauty.
Somewhere along the line, while reading Untamed and starting to look into A Course in Miracles, I had a couple ‘aha!’ moments about it all. First, that someone else’s mood, opinions about me, and overall demeanor and energy were theirs alone; I didn’t have to let them into my life, because they didn’t really have anything to do with me. It doesn’t make them a bad person, it just makes them not meant for my life, at least right now. Second, that I really finally took to heart that I am not beholden to others’ expectations. My life is my own, and just because someone is in a position of authority, influence, or esteem in my life – doesn’t mean they get to tell me what is right for me. And I don’t owe people explanations for my choices, either. None of my life choices are hurting anyone, therefore just because someone else doesn’t like or agree, doesn’t make them right and me wrong. No matter who they are. I have been so concerned, my whole life, about being liked. And when I am liked, if I’m liked as much as others, if I am good enough. It’s a goal that can never be achieved – I can never win.
So I took myself out of it. I am going to do my best to make sure *I* like me, and that I approach the world assuming good intentions and looking for the beauty in everything. Heart wide open, love given freely. If it’s not returned…then I send those people love and light, and assume it has more to do with them and their current life situation and not me. And I move on, staying in my own space of love and light. No more constantly defending and explaining my choices, no more chasing for more and more approval and being liked enough. It’s hard, I slip up a lot. But it’s been changing everything. The people who matter most, love me no matter what, and now I can see that and enjoy it because I’m not constantly trying to get someone else to like me too.
All of this to say…listening to my own heart is helping me find more calmness for myself, and more goodness in the world. It’s helping me to escape this constant effort to be more for everyone else, to just end the day feeling never good enough anyway. As we slowly go back to a more normal way of life (thank you science for the vaccine) in 2021, I want to make sure I am listening to my heart, and letting it lead me in life. I want to see the good, and be the good, and shine more love into the world. I want to be more myself. I want to be so full of love and kindness based on my own choices and inner peace, that I don’t allow others to dim that light.
So, my word for 2021 is heart. Because I am going to listen to it, and follow it. And I am going to focus on letting love lead the way. Bring it on, new year. I can’t wait for what my heart will bring me to.