Sunday, July 24, 2016

Open-Hearted Living

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me I was sensitive or wore my heart on my sleeve, I’d have a lot of money. It took a counselor to point out to me that this is not actually a bad thing – that sensitive people know when someone is in pain; that actually, sensitivity is a super power.
Recently, I did a weekend retreat and someone gave me the most amazing compliment I’ve ever received: “It seems to be that you’re very open-hearted,” this person said. “How can I get that way?”
Even as I find myself moving more toward that space, where I value my open-hearted nature when I can bring myself to wear it, I realized this morning that I still have a lot of ideas about open-heartedness that are likely making my life more difficult than it needs to be. 

For one, it seems I hold a belief that open-hearted living has absolutely nothing to do with making money – in fact, in any interactions that I have around supporting myself, I had better hide that big old heart of mine or risk getting it stomped on. Even bigger than that fear, however, is a much deeper one: if the person I’m interacting with sees that I’m open-hearted, they won’t see any value in me, and will not hire me.

It seems that I am struggling to see open-heartedness as an asset, invisible audience, even as I seek more and more to live in an open-hearted way. I have been making more and more friends that value the sensitivity that I was criticized for in the past. Thankfully, it’s been a long time since I’ve been confused for a rock hard bitch – at one time, I gave that first impression to a lot of people. However, I think I have discovered a deeply fundamental belief about this person that I have always been: as much as it feels better to be open-hearted and authentic, I have not believed that those characteristics apply to making a living.

Last night I participated in a group discussion with people who were seeking ways to incorporate authenticity into their everyday lives. Someone asked how many of these people considered their work to be a spiritual practice, and most of them said it was – that they were able to give their best to their clients when they treated the help they were giving them as an extension of their own desire to be authentic, vulnerable, and open-hearted. This blew my fucking mind, invisible audience. I realized that was not how I worked. I realized that, as much as I have sought more authenticity in my life, I have been denying that my authenticity had any place within my work life.

Maybe that’s why it sometimes feels like such a struggle to survive. I do a lot of reminding myself of the ways I am succeeding, even if those successes are really small, but I wonder if the reason that I have seen it to be such a daunting task to build a business is because of a feeling I get on a regular basis. I will begin to focus on bringing in more money, and immediately feel like I am disconnecting or don’t have time for connecting with the people around me; I immediately begin to thirst for more connection, even if it’s just with myself. However, the minute I start seeking that connection, an internal voice says, “You cannot have both. You are either allowed to be open-hearted and poor, or make money and be alone.”

Fucking hell.

As dire as this sounds, I’ve started to find small ways that this is changing. I started writing this blog again, after all, even though at this point there’s no monetary value in doing so.  I find that teaching local Spanish classes is a fun, open-hearted way to make money, and here’s the thing: I find it both easy and enjoyable, especially when I’m teaching kids. It’s easier for me than the other work I do, when I’m more concerned with presenting a professional image than I am with whether anyone is having fun, including me.

So perhaps I have stumbled across a hurdle I didn’t know I kept putting in my own way. Perhaps the secret is to bring more of this open-hearted person I’m becoming to all aspects of my life, not just the personal parts of it. Maybe this realization will help me give myself permission to seek other ways of making money that incorporate all of my values, instead of just the ones that I would have deemed acceptable in the past.

Love and open-hearted kisses,