The popular phrase “heart-centered” contains at least two distinct meanings.
It can mean electing love and compassion as the guiding principles of your life. Or it can mean living in alignment with your “true” self - your values, your calling, your experiential wisdom, your intelligence, intuition, and instinct, and the messages you receive from your body.
Both forces can comfortably abide within the same person, but that doesn’t mean they always do. Being true to yourself doesn’t automatically encompass living from love and compassion. It can simply be a narrow focus on the self and an attempt to secure your own good life.
At the same time, as we begin to uncover our true self, often a sense of love and compassion naturally arises for others. When we see how we’re bound up in all sorts of false ideas about our self, ones that consistently cause us to hurt, we can’t help but realize it’s the same for others as well. We’ll naturally want freedom from this insanity for others as much as for our self.
In this piece, I’m using “heart-centered” to mean being true to yourself.
For the best possible life, I encourage you to approach heart-centered living in both ways. To learn practices for living from love and compassion, please read: How to Live from Love and Compassion.
You would think listening to one’s heart would be the most natural and even logical thing in the world. But sadly this is not the case for many of us due to childhood wounds, conditioning, and our adult experiences that reinforced all that. Truth be told, many of us are not ready to live a heart-centered life.
5 Elements of a Heart-Centered Life
Here are 5 questions you can ask yourself to see if you are ready to listen to your heart:
1. How much do you trust yourself? Living a heart-centered life means listening to yourself at least as much as and probably much more than others. I can’t say it means only listening to yourself because I believe life is more complex than simplistic formulas.
But if you often seek advice from others, parental figures, teachers, health advisors, family members, your partner, intuitive readers, spiritual mentors, ideologies, and the like, and rarely listen to your own inner voice, you probably don’t have much faith, just yet, in your own natural intelligence.
2. Do you know your own values, what’s most important to you in life, and attune your attitude and actions to them? So much of life is about coming to know who we really are. Often, we start out in life by following the path laid out for us or rebelling against it. In either case, we haven’t necessarily sat down to consider what’s truly important to us. If you don’t know your own values or aren’t living by them, whose life are you living? It’s surely not a heart-centered life.
Recently, I asked my Facebook followers to share three words that they try to live by. Although it’s not a values inventory as such, a simple exercise like this can help place your most important values at the forefront of you mind.
What are three words you try to live by?
3. Are you willing to spend time in quiet, listening deeply and patiently? Busyness dominates most peoples’ lives. They never feel they have time to sit quietly so how can they hear their heart? Their heart constantly whispers its wishes, because that’s what hearts do, but the thunder of thoughts, emotions, and busyness drowns this guidance out.
A heart-centered life requires patience too. Though sometimes inner guidance comes easily, other times you may need to ask and listen again and again for clarity to finally dawn.
It’s impossible to lead a heart-centered life if you’re not willing to regularly get quiet and listen. If you need help learning to quiet the mind, please read: 21 Meditation Tips You Need to Know As a Beginner.
4. Are you willing to ask the big questions? The hard questions? You can build up confidence in your own inner wisdom by getting answers to everyday questions like, “Do I really want to go to this restaurant, that movie, or meet this person?” That will begin to change the quality of your life. But if you aren’t willing to ask the big questions or the hard ones, you’re still only living half of your own life.
5. Will you take action on what your heart tells you? It may not be easy to take action on what your heart tells you, at least at first. We’re used to denying our self in favor of everyone and everything else. But when you take action based on your intuition, instinct, and body response, it grows your ability to do so again and again.
The willingness to take action is the only way to truly build a heart-centered life.
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, don’t despair. I’ll readily admit I find it difficult to make decisions and often seek advice from others in myriad ways. But asking the first question in this series has empowered me to make a shift.
Asking the above questions will give you a clear view of where you need to work, if you truly wish to lead a more heart-centered life. Within each question, lies the solution you can put into place when you feel ready to engage the wisdom of your heart.
What did you learn from asking these questions? And if you would like, please share the three words you try to live by, I would love to hear.
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always. With love, Sandra