Trust Your Heart, Not Your Head
Before you read this blog about why you should trust your heart, please listen to this wonderful poem by John O’Donohue. I’ve recorded an audio version for you here. If you’d prefer to read it, here’s the link.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been telling you about the incredible experience I had at the Modern Elder Academy in Baja, Mexico. The school is the brainchild of Chip Conley and it’s dedicated to helping people, from all walks of life, navigate midlife and beyond.
When I signed up to the course, I was sent several poems to read, and one literally jumped off the page and screamed at me. In For a New Beginning, John O’Donohue described, in the most beautiful, thought-provoking way, my journey of discovery. The same journey I help my clients embark on.
Reading it was an emotional experience as it took me back to a time when I felt empty, underwhelmed, and stuck. A time when there was less joy and fulfilment in my life. But also, there in black and white, in six beautiful verses was a celebration, of just how far I have come.
Don’t just think, feel
The poem starts by describing the ‘out-of-the-way places of the heart, where your thoughts never think to wander,’ and for me this is about the conscious and the subconscious mind.
I always trusted my head, thinking my thoughts would direct and guide me in the right direction, but I was wrong. It was only when I went deep into my heart, that I discovered what I really wanted in life, and found the place I knew I should be.
Seduced by safety
My heart, as in this poem, watched for a long time as I played it safe, thinking about doing things differently, but never quite daring to act. I avoided risk at work, with investments, and with my life. I was comfortable, but there was a niggling deep inside, an urge to make changes and I now realise this feeling was my heart in turmoil, screaming at me to step out of my comfort zone and do something frightening, but ultimately rewarding.
Kindle your courage
When I look back through the chapters of my life, the crises have always been preceded by me treading water, too afraid to move forward. I’d stay doing what I was doing, even if I’d outgrown it. Stick with the same people, even when they didn’t serve me.
Until the day when, ‘my courage kindled’, I dared to make changes, to follow my dreams. Then, as John O’Donohue so perfectly describes, my ‘eyes became young again with energy and dream’ and ‘a path of plenitude’ opened up before me.
When I first stepped out of my comfort zone, I had absolutely no idea where I was going, or where I would ultimately end up, but I felt young again, exhilarated. My journey had plenty of ups and downs and I travelled down some bumpy roads, but I ‘trusted the promise of this opening,’ knowing that it ‘was at one with my life’s desire.’
I haven’t reached my destination yet, there’s still a long path to travel, but I’ve found a much better place. Somewhere I belong. I’m now living a life I want to because I dared to trust my heart and had the courage to act on what it was telling me.
Home in a new rhythm
The final verse of the poem is where I’m at now and where I intend to stay. I’m a risk taker, an adventurer. If something’s not right, I change it. If a relationship isn’t working for me, I end it.
Life isn’t about playing it safe, and risks are worth taking. If you’d have told me a year ago that I’d have a bestselling book or be surfing on the Pacific, I wouldn’t have believed you, but things have changed and now I’m ready to embrace every challenge and opportunity with open arms. The ‘new world that awaits me’ is passionate, exhilarating, and full of surprises, a far cry from the one I used to inhabit.
I encourage everyone to ‘kindle their courage’ so they can light up their life and start their journey to a new beginning.
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