“The heart is, in fact, the only organ in the body that cannot protect itself. Every other organ has its own defense system, but the heart, as the unconditional lover of the body, happily pumping its life-giving fluid to wherever it is needed, is truly made for love and not for war.” ~ Donna Eden
I never thought it was possible to “over-love” or that loving so big and so much could be depleting. But it’s true. In some ways, you can love too much, over-extending out love without filling your own cup, leading to devastating results.
For years I identified with being a giver. I gave my love like a never ending fountain. I took phone calls from friends going through divorce in the middle of the night, sending them to sleep at 3 am and waking up myself at 5 am to start my work day. I financially helped loved ones who were struggling financially and then struggled myself at times silently. I’d cancel things important to me to be there for anyone who needed support and missed out on the hobbies I loved. My schedule revolved around being there for others and over time it started wearing on me.
I started feeling resentful towards others. It was confusing feeling like everyone was just taking, drinking me up dry, and leaving me worn out, and to support myself alone on an empty tank. I’ve always been the “strong friend” that’s the shoulder to cry on, the hug to fall into, the person to listen, the one who brainstorms, but I used to hardly ever let myself ask for the same kind of support. Because I gave so freely, I was sure over time that the Universe would reward my giving and that others would naturally fill my cup back. Instead, I often found myself with an energetic fuel tank on empty and everyone of course was busy with their own lives.
For years, my never ending empathy, my compassion, was big, but neglected to include the most important person...myself.
Let’s be clear, the pattern I created for decades was self-created. Despite the best of intentions, it was a self-sabotaging cycle created by my mind that was strangely addictive because I so strongly identified with the way I was giving. I often felt like the victim. While I felt like the victim after I was worn out, the only person I was victim to was in fact myself. This was a hard pill to swallow because it meant it was up to me to love myself back to life and no one else. So that’s exactly what I did.
Over time I learned how to develop an open heart with boundaries that honored myself. When I previously felt depleted I’d become reactive, blame others and wall myself up, closing off inside. I felt like I had to built a fortress around my heart so that no one would steal one more drop of me. I realized that this was both completely powerless and didn’t recognize the seed of self-nurturing inside of my heart waiting...dormant to be awakened. One day I made a decision. I decided to stop blaming others for my depletion. I decided that I needed to start investing in loving myself because I really didn’t love myself. You can read about that HERE. I learned how to see time and time again that the nurturing I needed must begin with myself. That my heart was yearning for some self-sustaining, internally generated love. My heart wanted it’s own love not just during emergency moments when things were falling apart, but always. Every day it was up to me to mother myself back to myself. To be the warmth that I can return to. To be the hug that I can fall into. To be the one that will listen. I needed to learn how to do all of this for myself.
When you learn how to nurture yourself, you fill your cup, and can finally give like you deeply desire from a place of fullness, offering unconditional love...for the first time.
From this place of watering seeds of self-love I came to understand that I didn’t need to build walls against anyone because no one could take my love away in the first place. Instead, it was up to me to decide how dispensing love felt supportive. Honoring myself over time created a sense of boundlessness where I no longer felt that I needed to harden against others, push against the outside. Some days the love flowed more internally, other days, my cup was full and flowed externally.
Our heart chakra is the epicenter of nurturing. It’s the energy center that births open-heartedness, holds the seeds for endless compassion and loving-kindness, the seat of joy, source of resilience, and a mind of it’s own...a unique wisdom far more intelligent than the mind in our brains. What is often missed for many of us sensitive soul types is the self-nurturing this center is meant to spark as well. Self-nurturing paired with love for others creates balance at the center of our being. When we don’t honor this, it’s easy to get out of balance, either forgetting to love ourselves, or others along the way. These imbalances create resentment or selfishness.
In essence the heart chakra invites us to:
Balance love for ourself and love for others.
Develop a boundless heart of love and compassion for all beings everywhere...including ourselves.
Be guided by heart over mind, feeling over thinking, intuition over logic.
Empathize with others, but not over-identifying with another's suffering which can create deep suffering for ourselves.
Learn how to create mutually supportive rather than codependent relationships.
Fill our own cup to give from a place of fullness.
Drop self-judgement and judgement of others.
Follow our heart to align with our soul’s purpose.
Soothe our emotional wounds from a well tended, lush, inner garden and wellspring of self-love.
For this week’s Joy Tip Wednesday, I want to invite us to bring our heart centers back to balance. Here’s how:
Check-in with yourself on the following questions: Do I struggle to practice self-love? Am I a giver to everyone other than myself? Do I find myself experiencing resentment over time after being there for others? Do I feel so much I sometimes feel I cannot think? OR Do I find it challenging to extend my love to others outside of myself? Do I struggle to put myself in other people’s shoes? Is it hard for me to connect to my feelings?
If you answered yes to some of the questions above, you’re heart chakra is asking for attention. You can bring it into balance by focusing on the opposite energy of your current position. For example:
If you answered “yes” to the first set of questions about feeling resentment, over-giving to others, or getting lost in your feelings, your heart center wants self-nurturing. This is often a challenging practice at first. You can start by asking yourself what advice would I give a best friend and take your own advice. What would the most beloved person I know in this moment need and then give yourself that. Give back to the giver. Be there for yourself for one week and then check in and notice how you feel.
If you struggle with the second set of questions, finding it hard to extend your love outside of yourself or to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, it’s time to invest in extending some loving-kindness. Choose a person in your life that is close to you, easy to love, and agree to do one act of love for them today. Give for giving sake. Listen for listening sake. Hug for the sake of hugging. Then step outside your circle. Choose one person in your friend’s circle that you don’t know quite as well and agree to do one act of love for them tomorrow. Then, repeat. You can repeat this process with the same people, or if you’re feeling empowered, keeping taking one step further away from the center of your circle and include neighbors, store keepers...strangers. Do these acts of love for one week and then check in and notice how you feel.
The heart center teaches us that the very fabric of our nature is love. Love for ourselves, love for others. Bringing our chakra back into balance empowers us to live from that inner nature.
Let me know in the comments below, what your heart chakra is teaching you and where you are out of balance. Use this space to make some commitments together on how you plan to bring it back to center.