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

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How to stop feeling like a victim in your life

victim mentality

Do you sometimes or often feel like a victim in your life? Well, you if you do, you are certainly not alone.

Feeling like a victim is all to do with our state of mind – our mentality. We think of ourselves as victims, and our thoughts become our feelings and our actions.

When you have a victim mentality you feel as though you cannot succeed no matter how hard you try and that everything and everyone is against you. Feeling like this can be very frustrating as it keeps you stuck.

You feel trapped and helpless and believe you have no control over your life. Your thinking patterns are likely to be negative and very pessimistic. There is also a strong chance that self-pity and sadness are familiar features of your life.

The “benefits” of having a victim mindset

Believe it or not, having a victim mindset is attractive to some people because they believe it holds several benefits, such as:

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Why loneliness is sometimes good for us

Loneliness is sometimes good for us - K.J. Hutchings

Loneliness is usually seen in a negative light. If we’re lonely it means something is amiss in our lives. A lack of friends. A lack of meaningful connections. A lack of sociability. Lack in general.

It’s true that chronic, ongoing loneliness, the sort of loneliness that endures day in day out for the long-term, is not a good thing at all. Loneliness can kill – it happens to many elderly, isolated people around the world, which is desperately sad.

But that’s not the sort of loneliness I’m talking about.

The loneliness I mean is fleeting; it comes and goes, despite good friends, loving partners, caring family and a busy, enriching life. It still pops up from time to time, often inexplicably, bringing along with it a myriad of uncomfortable emotions.

I think this fleeing loneliness is good for us. It’s actually beneficial. Don’t believe me? Let me put forward my case with 7 examples:

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How to treat your anxiety disorder easily, quickly and naturally

self portait by K.J. Hutchings- relationship writer and artist

I painted this self-portrait when I was in my early twenties. It was a difficult time in my life because a lot of it was blighted by anxiety disorder.

I suffered from anxiety for a large part of my early life. I remember being a very nervous, quiet child who frequently suffered from stomach aches and rashes, nausea and shallow breathing.

I was shy, introverted and felt awkward around people, and I worried a lot – about anything and everything, which greatly increased my existing anxiety. As I reached my teens my anxiety problem had not improved and I still had to deal with skin rashes, headaches and stomach problems. That’s when I started to read self-help books, putting the advice into action.

And in time, the symptoms faded and I got on with life, studying at art college and university, working in London and enjoying my social life. I still had moments of anxiety and stress, like most people, but I was able to handle them far better.

Life events often trigger anxiety disorder – in my case, a bad relationship

I met a man when I was in London. For a short time our relationship was good. And then it wasn’t.

My boyfriend turned out to be overbearing and controlling, and also had anger, jealousy and trust issues. He drank too much and took recreational drugs, and often got fired from jobs. It soon felt like our relationship was going nowhere, but I just couldn’t seem to get out of it – perhaps because I was afraid of how he might react if I ended it.

So it was no surprise that my anxiety disorder returned. There I was, in my early 20s, with an anxiety problem again – no doubt triggered by my dysfunctional relationship and feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness.

And on top of that I was also experiencing other health problems such as stomach cramps and nausea. My boyfriend was pretty unsympathetic and lacked patience, so it didn’t take long for my stress and anxiety to become the worst they had ever been. I desperately re-read my self-help books and followed the advice, but this time, my anxiety disorder did not go away…

Read moreHow to treat your anxiety disorder easily, quickly and naturally

The best Christmas gift you can give yourself

The best Christmas gift you can give yourself by K.J. Hutchings

Christmas is traditionally a time for family and friends, but it should also be a time for you too.

Give yourself an important gift that costs nothing but is nonetheless precious: a little time to quietly reflect back on the year that’s nearly over and think about the year that is soon to come.

Perhaps 2015 was a hard year for you because you suffered a loss, whether bereavement, the loss of love, security, health or money. Whatever your loss, I want to share with you some Christmas love and blessings, and wishes for a better year to come.

And perhaps you feel you didn’t achieve all you wanted this year. If you feel disappointed you didn’t achieve more, you’re not alone. I feel the same too, as do many others. But know this: what you have done has laid the foundations for the fruition of your plans. Remember:

Read moreThe best Christmas gift you can give yourself