What is an open heart?
Put no one out of your heart.
We all know people who are, ah, . . . challenging. It could be a critical parent, a bossy supervisor, a relative who has you walking on eggshells, a nice but flaky friend, a co-worker who just doesn’t like you, a partner who won’t keep his or her agreements, or a politician you dislike. Right now I’m thinking of a neighbor who refused to pay his share of a fence between us.
As Jean-Paul Sartre put it: “Hell is other people.”
Sure, that’s overstated. But still, most of a person’s hurts, disappointments, and irritations typically arise in reactions to other people.
Ironically, in order for good relationships to be so nurturing to us as human beings – who have evolved to be the most intimately relational animals on the planet – you must be so linked to others that some of them can really rattle you!
So what can you do?
Let’s suppose you’ve tried to make things better – such as taking the high road yourself and perhaps also trying to talk things out, pin down reasonable agreements, set boundaries, etc. – but the results have been partial or nonexistent.
At this point, it’s natural to close off to the other person, often accompanied by feelings of apprehension, resentment, or disdain. While the brain definitely evolved to care about “us,” it also evolved to separate from, fear, exploit, and attack “them” – and those ancient, neural mechanisms can quickly grab hold of you.
But what are the results? Closing off doesn’t feel good. [Read more...]