How well you live comes down to how much you love.
– Robin Sharma
This quote struck deep into my heart. I’ve built up so many things in my head about what life is about, but it truly is this simple. Love.
I used to think the purpose of life is about finding meaning, living a good life, making a contribution, and being content. I guess I wasn’t that far off. What greater meaning could there be than to love and be loved in return?
And if you’re like me, you know that it takes a truckload of bravery for a highly sensitive with a history of disappointments and hurt to put my heart out there. To take the leap of opening my heart and to love. To live with a spacious, giving, and kind heart. Because when it’s all been said and done, all that will matter is whether I lived my life with my whole heart.
I want to live with arms wide open, embracing life and all it brings. The good and the bad. I do not want a life where I’ve cautiously tiptoed through with my heart safely hidden away somewhere deep and dark.
My dream life is one filled with different people who shared parts of my life with me, and who in the end, can say that they felt loved and accepted in that time. That they have been encouraged by a kind word or gentle touch, or that some good has befallen them because of my presence or influence in their lives. To be of use and service to the people who cross my path.
What I Lost
Living and loving without reservations is probably one of the most difficult things. It’s unconditional love and the second most important commandment in the Bible.
Unconditional. It’s a loaded word when coupled with love. It means total acceptance of people, and giving love without them having to earn it. This means looking past prejudices, preferences, and preconceived ideas. Not judging books by their covers. Getting past my issues and giving people a chance, knowing that they will fail. Because they are human. That is the human condition, we are flawed. So maybe this time I will be this person’s mistake. That’s okay.
I realized that by not taking the risk of freely giving, connecting, or building relationships, I robbed myself. Robbed of the joys of openheartedness, giving, sharing, special moments, closeness, loving, and being loved. Of living a full life.
By not making space in my life for others, I may have saved myself some heartache, yes. But the truth is, I also prevented myself from experiencing the best things in life. Of living in the freedom of truth, not constrained and limited in my ‘safe’ box.
Connection gives purpose and meaning to our lives.
– Brené Brown
True connection can only be felt and reciprocated with openness and honesty. I have held most people at a comfortable arm or two’s length. I was not being open-hearted and truly showing or sharing myself. I was not being brave. I convinced myself that this was the safe way to go. The truth is the safe way is not living at all.
In our close relationships, there is no greater feeling than showing your true self to another and still being accepted and loved.
Once the sad state of my guarded heart became apparent to me, I had to make a big change. But the thought of putting it all on the line was excruciating.
I felt (and still do sometimes) like I’m standing on the very edge of a ledge at a dizzy height, do I jump, do I try, do I dare? I know I have to. What is waiting for me down there? Will it be worth it? Will I be able to handle the outcome whichever way it goes? Will my heart be broken or my good intentions be trampled on? Will I survive?
Then, at the moment, I see myself standing on that unknown ledge of vulnerability and unconditional love. I close my eyes, spread my arms wide, and without thinking about it, I slowly fall forward. A feeling of freedom and carefree surrender rushes into my heart. I know this is what I'm supposed to do. It feels right. There’s no resisting life anymore, but acceptance of what is and what will be.
Embracing My Fear & Letting Go
The first thing to do was to acknowledge that the disappointments and hurts of the past still affected my life, it changed me. It made me distrustful and closed off. But that is not who I am. I needed to let go of those things to be me again.
I want to live a life marked with bravery, of not giving up on people or myself, but always getting back up and trying again. To give people the benefit of the doubt. Essentially, most people are good and try their best.
People need to make do with what they have, and some have been dealt bad cards. It’s not about me. Every person has their own stuff going on. And sometimes that stuff causes them to act up and make poor choices or lash out. What people say and do may affect me, but 99% of the time it was not really about me. There’s a big difference. Knowing this means I never have to take it personally. It's about them and what they have going on.
With this in mind, leaping doesn’t seem so terrifying anymore. This does not mean that I don’t feel fearful anymore, I still do sometimes, I think it’s a journey. A journey of love and acceptance of myself and others.