Your heart or emotional being is the core of your soul-self and the place where the truth of your being resides. Your head or intellect is addicted to the satisfaction of your physical senses—the place that holds all of the programming and conditioning of your childhood and adult experiences and is the throne of the negative ego. Speaking from the heart means sharing the truth of your being, as you know it in the moment. This may change as you acquire new information and experiences; however, not only will your truth set you free, but also it will liberate you from guilt, shame, and fear.
Speaking from your head means regurgitating the stories you have been told and have heard about yourself and your life. It means defaulting to people pleasing and childhood survival tactics that are no longer required or necessary. It also means that you are probably more focused on avoiding a problem with other people than you are with honoring or taking care of yourself. The latter is a function of bad behavior!
Speaking from your heart is a wildly bold and courageous act. In so doing, you run the risk of meeting with disagreement, subjecting yourself to criticism and judgment, and upsetting someone else’s needs and expectations. This may not always be the case, yet the chances are more likely than not that these things can and will happen. Your job is to remember that you will be okay if people cannot see, cannot accept, or cannot agree with what is true for you. Speaking from your heart and sharing your truth is the way you take a stand for yourself, within yourself. This is a major step toward reminding you that you can be trusted with your own well-being.
There is one small caveat I feel obliged to share about speaking from your heart. It is what is called a psychological, spiritual, or heart bypass, i.e., the way to go around something rather than deal with it head-on. Using so-called personal development or spiritual principles to discount others or to avoid taking full responsibility for your behavior is a dishonest bypass.
Here is an example of how a bypass can play out in real life. Let’s say your best friend shares with you that she had a negative experience about something you said or did and she wants you to make amends or a correction. Deep in your heart you see or understand her point, but the negative ego steps in and tells you she is criticizing and judging you. Rather than acknowledging the validity of what is being offered and sharing authentically and honestly how it makes you feel, you default to a sense of shame, guilt, or anger.
Rather than acknowledge what you are feeling, you dismiss or deny what your friend has said, become fixated on “the way” she said it, offer an excuse and perhaps lay blame on her or someone else, or attack her past actions or current behavior. All of the above are forms of bad behavior that have nothing to do with the truth. They are also all forms of a dishonest bypass, an attempt to save face because you got called out. This is clearly unnecessary and inappropriate behavior designed to minimize a blow to the negative ego, look good, and survive.
A first self-trust-building step would be to share from your heart (not your head!) how you feel about what your friend has offered and the way she offered it.
The next self-trust-building step would be to acknowledge the validity of what she has offered and to share that while it may not be true for you and your intentions,you appreciate or understand how she feels.
The final step would be to ask a simple question: How can I make it better now?
The lessons in these three steps can propel you a long way down the path of developing self-trust.
Find The Good And Praise It
When I realized that it was my grandmother who had taught me about the Bible, I knew that I needed to be grateful. Even though she had often broken God’s commandments in her dealings with me, she had also taught me that it was wrong and evil to speak ill of others even when they did not treat you well. The fact that she used her understanding of the Bible to abuse and demean me was not my business. It was her business and God’s business. Once I was removed from her authority, my heart became my business.
If that wasn’t enough to convince me to resist the indictments of my negative ego, there was the Gospel of Matthew 5:14–16 (NLT):
You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
This was a hard one for me to accept or acknowledge about myself. Me? A light? No way! One of the major steps toward developing self-trust is the willingness to release the belief that you should have or could have done something to stop or prevent the painful experiences. Self-trust becomes an extremely difficult challenge to overcome when you blame or beat yourself up about what you could have and should have done. One way to overcome this hurdle is to seize every opportunity to remember and celebrate the good that you have done and experienced. I did remember the family road trips to Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. I still have good memories about the hot summer night we spent on the boardwalk at Coney Island.
I had to force myself to remember the number of times I sat with my brother, nurtured him, and cared for him after he had an asthma attack. Even my grandma had to admit that I was the only one who could make him smile, even though she considered my antics annoying. I gave myself permission to remember and embrace the fact that I had been a good student all the way through school and that I had graduated from college at the age of 30, summa cum laude, as the valedictorian and president of my class, after leaving an abusive marriage with three children.
I finally understood that it was not prideful or bragging to remind myself of the number of people I had helped or supported through difficult times, even if none of them were speaking to me now. It wasn’t me; it was the light that they had needed. That light was God’s light within me.
Like every other spiritual lesson you must learn in life, there is a meaning, purpose, and value in trust. Self-trust is the development and mastery of an unwavering, unquestionable inward conviction about your own value, worth, and ability to be, to create, and to enjoy all that you desire in the process of living and learning more about yourself.
My book Trust explores this topic in more depth, as well as the other 3 essential trusts; Trust in God, Trust in Others and Trust in Life. Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult lessons, but all it takes is the process and of course, a lot of practice.
Iyanla Vanzant is the founder and executive director of Inner Visions International and the Inner Visions Institute for Spiritual Development. She is a Yoruba priestess and an ordained minister in Christian New Thought.
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