I woke up one day, after mocking my sister for reading personal development books, full of shame and disappointment in myself. Even through the haze of a hangover I knew in my heart that I was not that belittling a-hole that showed up the night before – that had been showing up for the past couple years. I cried, apologized, and asked for her help. She told me to read Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. I did, and it launched me into a never-ending journey to keep my heart open.

It wasn’t until I read about vulnerability that I realized that’s what I needed to work on! I was so scared of expressing my emotions and exposing myself to pain that I literally reached a point where I could barely utter a word of sentiment for fear of breaking down entirely. I didn’t even give my dad a birthday speech that year (and we are a HUGE speech family AND he was battling cancer).

Brené for me was like the Frappuccino of personal development books. Her book was amazing, delicious, and eye opening. It led me to try so many other things on the self-help menu and eventually led me to Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul which changed me forever. (Yes, you should read both books because they are necessary in life).

Michael Singer spoke to my soul when he wrote about how our hearts are in a constant fluctuation of open and closed. One person or scenario touches one of our sensitive spots and we close our hearts to protect ourselves. This doesn’t always manifest in running or shutting down, but maybe it shows up by being defensive or even attacking whoever dare touch one of our thorns.

Through reading his book I started to ask myself, is this worth closing my heart over? As I started to hear and feel myself reacting to things, I began watching the shift from open to closed. Sometimes I realized I was getting upset about things I didn’t even care about!! It was such a pattern, so ingrained and automatic. As I built awareness of what was really happening and what was triggering these energy shifts, I was confronted with a choice – to close my heart or to let it go.

I face this choice often in my life. Sometimes I react how I want to and sometimes I don’t. So long as I’m out there – showing up, giving a shit, and feeling my life – I’m proud of myself. It’s not the easy path let me assure you, but it’s worth it because as we feel our pain we are always confronted with that same choice to let it go or not. I like sharing my journey in the hopes that people find some connection to it and by seeing their own pain, they can also see the light. I have found so much inner peace and I hope to share that with all of you. Below are the biggest revelations I’ve found in my studies of personal development, yoga, and living this life.

1. You have a choice to live with an open heart. Believe me I was not born this way!! I have sheltered myself from pain for as long as I can remember and I was labeled as a very sensitive child. I translated that to shame that feelings were bad and should be held deep, deep within. I still cry all the time, but I see it as a good thing! Crying for me is a release. Release. Stay open. Release. Stay open. I make the choice.

2. Building awareness is the path to freedom. How can we grow if we’re in the dark about what’s happening? Building awareness means becoming the observer and (spoiler alert) it’s the first step towards transformation. It means hearing your mind rant and noticing when your energy or mood shifts. It means being in tune with what is happening in your head, heart, and gut. Without judgment, without trying to shift anything, just seeing and hearing yourself and your mind-talk (you know when you have full blown monologues of nonsense in your head that leaves you indecisive and confused?).

3. It’s not about you (and I say that with love). We are all living our own lives, having different days, seeing the world through unique lenses. Someone else gives us a look, forgets something, says a snarky comment and we unravel as we assume that was a personal affront. Once you realize people’s behavior, energy, and words stem from their own stuff, you can find so much more peace and security within yourself.

This is but the tip of the tip of the iceberg. You have to start somewhere, and I hope I’ve helped you see yourself and your life in a new way. If you walk away with one thing, I hope it’s a feeling of empowerment to really look at yourself and ask yourself, “Is this worth closing my heart over?”

With all the love and support that I have,