I just finished facilitating a workshop called Open Heart, Open Perceptions, where I taught a treasure chest full of tools for how to keep our heart open no matter what. It is easy to keep our heart open to what we love, but super challenging to keep our heart open to the things we don’t want in our lives: our partner being late (again), our co-worker’s bad attitude, or our dog’s illness and impending death. Life generously gives us plenty of places to practice opening our heart.
And why would we want to keep our heart open to everything?
Because when your heart is open you are connected to your own sense of love, your intuition, and your creativity. Closing your heart shuts you off not only from what you are resisting but also armors you from the gifts of your own compassion, dims your creative responses to challenges, and dampens your intuition and access to your wisdom.
There is a lot of confusion around what it means to have an open heart and what it means to love fully. One of the biggest misconceptions is that if you are truly loving or if your heart is open fully then you don’t have to make boundaries. The illusion is that somehow if you are unconditionally loving then making boundaries becomes unnecessary, or even that saying “no” is not “spiritual.”
How did saying “no” get such a bad rap?
If you are open-hearted boundary challenged it may take some time for you to fall in love with your no. If you believe you are supposed to take care of everyone else, if you feel guilty for claiming your own space, if you have lost touch with your own inner yes or no wisdom, then saying no with grace and presence can feel super awkward. The shift we are moving towards is learning how to say “no” clearly and with an open heart. Most of us haven’t been taught the skill of how to give a good no. We often don’t make boundaries, so when we do it comes out as either a thou-shalt-not-cross, over the top, out of the blue NO!!! Or the opposite: you apologize profusely for your no, feeling like you just ran someone over with a car rather than just told them something is not going to work for you.
Loving your yes and your no
Remind yourself that you are learning; most likely you haven’t had any role models for how to say no in an open, clear way. Let it be messy. Keep trying. If you remember that every time you say no to someone else you are saying yes to yourself eventually you’ll find that there is no difference between sharing or receiving a yes or a no; they are both simply choices that you can give or receive open-heartedly.