Jason Natzke knows what it feels like when your heart closes, and he can show you how to open it again.
I am going to start with a very intimate request: raise your hand if you’ve ever felt incapable of giving and receiving love or undeserving in any way. If you’re hesitant to be so vulnerable, don’t worry … both of my hands just shot up into the air. I call it “heart closure,” where bright colors turn to menacing ones, where joy and love are replaced by unworthiness. The frustrating part lies not in heart closure’s existence (we all have bad days), but rather in the feeling of helplessness: the awareness of knowing what it feels like to vibrate at the level you are supposed to be at, but you simply can’t get there. Call it a funk, a rut, what have you … but for yours truly, it’s playing a note on a musical instrument and having it sound flat. It’s feeling like you no longer have the ability to do something you’ve done a million times before.
Here is another request: raise your hand if you would like more positive than negative in your life, more love than shame, more confidence than doubt? If all of that comes in a bottle, I’ll take a lifetime supply. I must preface by stating that I am the farthest distance away from being an expert on this sort of thing … by the longest method of measurement. I am, however, someone who has felt all of the unworthiness, the judgment, the powerless vacuum and the deep sadness. And because I have felt these things, I like to think I’m not alone. If other people have felt the same way, then I am surely not the only one who has desired to discover the antidote for unworthiness and crack the code of heart closure.
As my heart has felt closed lately, I’ve been reminded that it’s out of our control if there is a driving rainstorm outside, but we do have a say in how we bundle ourselves up. With that awareness in mind, let us try and find the light together, with three key phrases I cannot take credit for:
“If you want love, love yourself first.”
I’m sure we’ve all heard that one before. I think self-love is easier said than done, as we are always our biggest and most influential critics. But instead of shutting off the critic (we can’t) how about embracing it? Take yourself back to the playground for a moment: remember the class bully? The (seemingly) bigger, more popular kid who knew exactly what to say or do to push your buttons, sometimes literally? Maybe the best way to combat a bully is to show that their bullying has no impact on our self worth. Limit the impact of the bully’s weapon and he or she is powerless. (Aside: I wish I had this knowledge in fifth grade.) When the critical self starts to speak in attempt to break us down, let’s thank it for sharing, love it for the awareness it brings and move on. It’s not worth the fight.
“Take care of yourself so you can help take care of others.”
Another gem of a quote that is easier to recite than actually put into practice. Let’s think of it this way: what use are we to others if we aren’t fully committed to ourselves first? It can be as simple as listening to your favorite song at full volume, with accompanying dance moves and off-key singing. It can be creating in your favorite way: painting, writing, photography; expressing your inner dreams through an outward medium. Once we have taken the time to serve our own souls, I think we are naturally more open to serve others, subconsciously or not. Think about whatever brings you joy and just do it. What’s stopping you? By creating the space for our own spirits to shine, we are unconsciously allowing others to feel safe enough to do the same.
“Become vulnerable enough to be imperfect.”
Like it or not, we can’t be shining examples of love and joy every moment of every day. Where there is light, there is dark. That is cosmic law. I get frustrated because a part of me insists on being the highest version of myself every waking minute … and if I am not functioning at this level, then the critic inside starts to talk, the judgment comes and the heart closes. However, it’s our perceived shortcomings that make us relatable, the acceptance that we are far from perfect that allow us to connect with others. The human condition is one of highs and lows, life a collection of imperfect moments that rarely match our expectations. I believe it’s the different shades of life, the duality of the heart, the cracks in our foundation that brings out the true beauty.
The winding road we’ve traveled above has led me to what I was trying to process in the first place: I want my heart to be open so I can gracefully fall into a loving relationship, find a job where I feel on purpose and financially free. In the most general of terms, I want my heart to be open so I can find the satisfaction in life I long for. I am learning that we don’t have the ability to make all of these ideal scenarios appear out of thin air and when we try to make them happen, that’s when the heart closes. However, we do have the magical power to shift something inside of us that invites it all our way. I see it is as giving our hearts fresh air: the breeze cannot enter without a window first being opened.
As the breeze rolls, in, I realize that opening my heart is ultimately a choice, one that is a lot simpler than I originally thought. The most powerful to way to eliminate heart closure is to purely accept and believe that we are deserving of all that we want. The love, joy, freedom, success, it’s all possible. Instead of relying on external factors to bring these bright colors to us, we can focus on allowing it all to come our way.
We can have anything we want and more importantly, we deserve to have it.
Originally published on Wandering Rhythm.