The Heart of the Matter
Every day we are faced with choices. And what we choose, is often influenced by our thoughts. Those thoughts can result from dwelling in the past from some old part of our story or worrying about the future and our fears of what may be. It is our beliefs and stories that tend to shape us into the people we have become.
A few months back I was working with a client who was thinking about making a career change. As we explored the possibilities, she identified that this could be her “dream job.” At the very same time, she began to get caught up in an automatic stream of negative thoughts. She only had a high school diploma and one year of college. Never having completed college, she was constantly reminded by her elders that she would never amount to much without a college degree. Her family was quick to assert that she never stuck with anything and just bounced from job to job. As her self-judgment grew, I sensed her retreating from the idea that this job was in reach. My client had clearly been influenced by her parent’s negative beliefs; not by what she knew, in her heart, she was capable of.
We are generally conditioned by what we have learned. When we are praised and rewarded for our behavior, those positive reinforcements encourage us to repeat those behaviors. We begin to shape ourselves according to what feels good based on what others think, whether it serves us or not. When we live in the comfort of approval from others, rather than developing our own self-acceptance, we limit ourselves.
Our beliefs based on reactions from family, friends, co-workers, or even acquaintances, become our reality. We become conditioned and learn not to think for ourselves. In my coaching practice, I refer to this as the conditioned mind.
Many people are not aware that their life is being run by their conditioned mind and yet it affects our day-to-day lives. Signs of this behavior also show up in how we act in response to situations. Anger, frustration, blame, and impatience are all strong indicators that our conditioned mind is running us. Other signals include judgment of ourselves and others. If you find yourself reactive to a situation, that too is a gauge.
This energy is draining, and often all consuming, leaving us feeling exhausted. I refer to it as “basement energy,” a negative place that impedes our opportunity for growth or change.
Understanding and becoming conscious of how we became who we are, allows us the opportunity to become the author of our life rather than living someone else's perception of ourselves. The more conscious you become, the more you live your life in the present moment, free of limitations and false beliefs. It is from that place that you are free to create a life of choice based on what YOU want, what YOU desire at your core. This is living life Open Hearted.
This energy is exhilarating as you experience a sense of power and excitement. I call this “High Vibration Energy”, shifting you towards a sense of well-being. You feel lighter, happier, and more at ease physically, emotionally, and mentally. You are naturally open to all possibilities as you live a more positive, meaningful life based on your choices.
A great way to differentiate between being run by your conditioned mind and making a conscious choice is by bringing awareness to your body. When you listen closely and pay attention, your body will respond. I developed the Body Wisdom Integration (BWI) process to support my clients in accessing and understanding the messages of their body. BWI is a holistic visualization process that enhances your awareness. Through inquiry and self-exploration, it works by pulling you out of your conditioned mind and guides you towards greater insight and clarity.
In my client’s case, using BWI, she was able to tap into an archaic feeling of worthlessness. Over the years, hearing the same messages over and over left her feeling inadequate and unworthy. She was stuck in the belief based on others’ perceptions. But as she moved through the process, she was able to shift, freeing her conditioned mind and transforming her basement energy to open hearted. As she stepped into her own truth, she felt liberated and empowered. That day, without hesitation, she applied for her dream job. And, with her newly found confidence, she nailed the interview, landed the job and is now highly successful in her chosen career.
When we Live Life Open Hearted, we feel alive, invigorated and fully awake. Our life tends to unfold in a natural flow. We learn to embrace each situation as an opportunity, fully present in the moment. We become more relaxed in our day-to-day life, experiencing more peace and calm, more confidence, and greater compassion for ourselves and others.
Do you live your life in your conditioned mind or Open Hearted?