Following Your Heart
Following your heart is generally wise. But it can get you into trouble. Big trouble, too, sometimes. Why? Because you can feel really strongly about someone or something and and be in the dark about all your motives. Moreover, you can set yourself up for a rude awakening. That’s especially true when you find out someone is definitely not of the character you first surmised.
The secret to following your heart safely is knowing it well, first. And to know your heart you have to delve into inner space that’s mostly unconscious. It can be really scary territory. You never know what you might find there. Still, it’s worth the effort. To know yourself – the good, bad, and the ugly – is the beginning of becoming both awakened and empowered. But you have to set all fear aside. And you have to be relentless in your pursuit. Most importantly, you have to be willing to honestly reckon with whatever you find.
Most of us come to our encounters with others with a myriad of agendas. Often, those agendas aren’t fully conscious. Perhaps we’re seeking affirmation. Or, perhaps we want to lean, needing emotional support. Perhaps we’re seeking to advance ourselves. Many different interests drive us. And sometimes we’re not too comfortable with them. Maybe we feel some shame about them. Maybe, some guilt. So, we cast the encounter as something different, putting on a “face.” In so doing, we betray who we really are. We lose our authentic selves.
The most disturbed characters among us harbor many hidden agendas, too. But not in the same way I described above. They’re usually not so full of shame or guilt that their motives are kept from conscious awareness. They simply don’t have enough conscience for that. Rather, they know their motivations quite well. But they just want to keep you in the dark. Maybe their plan is to exploit you. Maybe they just want use you until they tire of you. Perhaps they truly like you but lack the capacity to be faithful to you. So, while they might put on a face, it’s strictly to deceive you. In a way, they’re inauthentic, too, but in a more deliberate, troubling way. (See: pp. 43-46 in In Sheep’s Clothing.)
Genuineness and Integrity
Personal integrity reaches its height in the absence of pretense. The truly decent character has thoroughly searched his/her heart. He/she knows it well, and strives to keep it pure. This takes a great deal of persistent mindfulness. (See also: Self-Mastery Requires Mindfulness.) Integrity takes effort. You have to stay very awake (i.e. conscious). You have to know what’s going on inside of you. And you have to properly discern what’s pure and unitive and what isn’t. That way following your heart becomes a way of living that creates, unites, and energizes.
Sincerity of Heart and Purpose
We’ve been talking about the 10th “commandment” of sound character growth. The axiom is all about humble sincerity. (See also: Humility of Heart Leads to Sincerity.) And sincerity is all about personal authenticity. (See also: Sincerity of Heart and Purpose.) But we can’t really be noble and right purpose unless our heart is in the right place. And simply being true to oneself isn’t enough. The most heartless predators are often quite true to their nature. And for our actions to be good, we have to be more than merely well-intended. So, how do we judge the sincerity and rightness of our purposes? We’ll be talking about that in the coming weeks.