How to open your heart to others (even if you’ve been badly hurt in the past)

Don't be afraid to open your heart

We all too often think that we should protect ourselves from the possibility of getting hurt. Most of us have been hurt in the past and a common reaction to the pain of being hurt by someone else is to close off our hearts.

We mistakenly think that closing our hearts and guarding our feelings protect us from further pain. We mistakenly think it strengthens us and gives us control over what happens to us.

The problem is the opposite happens.

A closed heart = a closed life

When you close your heart, you close yourself off not only from the world, but also from yourself. A closed heart can leave life devoid of joy, love and compassion, and possibilities. It becomes a fearful heart. It actually attracts negative situations and people, it does not avert them.

There are, of course, certain people (and situations) you should protect yourself from, but not everyone you meet. A closed heart takes a lot of (negative) energy to maintain. It’s draining. You’re constantly on guard waiting trouble, waiting for someone to try to step on your toes. Your life becomes dictated by painful past events to the detriment of your present moments.

Plus a closed heart means you treat yourself with less love, trust and compassion too. You end up being incredibly hard on yourself.

A closed heart = negative energy

A closed heart has also soaked up the bad energy from the memories you replay over and over about the betrayal or rejection or pain inflicted upon you. You literally lock that pain inside your heart, thinking you are protecting yourself when really you are hurting yourself.

The only way to solve that problem – and let go of your pain – is to open your heart.

How to open your heart

How do you do open your heart? You start by letting go of the significance of the memories you are harbouring. Whether it’s a bad breakup or a friend’s betrayal, you start to let go of the pain associated with the memory of what happened. By doing so you lessen its power of you.

Each time you think about what happened you will no doubt feel pain, like a knee-jerk reaction, as it’s become a habit.

The key is to accept the memory of what happened, but rather than fixate on or judge the feeling it produces instead let the memory and any feelings fall away. Let them fall away and disappear.

Do this every time the memory comes to your mind. Observe it is there, accept it and then let it fall away. When it falls away, its power falls away too. You cease to become the one feeling the emotion, but instead become the observer of the emotion.

It can take practice, and it also takes time. But remember: baby steps can build into big strides. Every closed heart can open little by little.

Be like a duck and let those feelings roll off your back like water. Let them go.

Experiences teach us, letting go heals us

It is one thing to learn from a “bad” experience and improve your life as a result, but quite another to continue carrying painful feelings around with you for the rest of your life.

Closing your heart around painful memories and feelings stops you growing, it stops you living fully. It makes life very heavy and burdensome. Life becomes a scary place full of threats and dangers.

Once you’ve let your feelings about a particular memory fall away, next imagine that warm light is filling your chest. It’s filling the space left behind by the pain.

We can call it love light. This light is opening your heart more and more. It is filled with love, compassion and understanding – not just for others, but for you too. It wants the best for you.

This light within your open heart understands that people are fallible. We hurt each other. We make mistakes. It also understands that our fellow human beings are often pretty wonderful too, if we give them the chance.

Be better, not bitter

When we open our hearts we meet the world from a place of strength.

The next time someone tries to step on your toes (and there will be a next time because we humans are fallible) then you know to swiftly let that experience fall away too.

It doesn’t mean you allow the person to mistreat you again. Definitely not. You simply decide to not let their actions affect you. They have no power over you. Your open heart protects you.

With your increased sense of compassion, as a result of your open heart, you realize the person is hurting and lashing out. “Hurt people hurt”, to quote a now well-known phrase. Their actions have very little, if anything, to do with you and everything to do with their own issues.

With an open heart we know that we can handle whatever happens to us – and can let it fall away from us. We know life’s events (and life is tough sometimes) can be great teaching tools and help us grow.

These events won’t make us bitter as long as we open our hearts. They will instead make us better people.

K.J. Hutchings creates relationship art and writing to help you feel good about yourself and feel good about your relationships. She lives with her husband in Sweden, and likes to drink lots of green tea and watch a romcom or two.

1 thought on “How to open your heart to others (even if you’ve been badly hurt in the past)

  1. Hello,

    This post really helped me to learn some awesome things about life and how to open the heart to the closest people in our life.

    Thanks

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