"Sven, I feel so foolish for opening my heart and then being rejected."
I have had multiple clients express to me, this past week (and month and year), some form of this, "Sven, I feel so foolish that I opened up and expressed love, and then it didn't come back to me the way I hoped."
My response is always some form of this:
That doesn't mean you're a fool. It's never foolish to put your heart out there. In fact, that's the most courageous act of life. And you did it!! The goal is to keep doing that, knowing you're gonna win some and you're gonna lose some. Nobody wins every guy/gal every time. But we gotta keep being honest in revealing who we are, knowing that doing so will radically increase the likelihood of finding someone who is genuinely compatible with who we really are.
I mean think about it. What should you have done instead? NOT show your true feelings? NOT open up? If you had done that, it would have just put off the time when you discovered it wasn't a good fit for the two of you. It's far better to know up-front if this is someone I want to keep moving forward with. And so we tell the truth of how we feel, then if this person responds favorably and steps toward us, great; if not, great also, because we then know this person isn't the one.
The only other option is to always live in fear -- and so to never open up until we're absolutely sure this is the one. But guess what, you can't ever know if it's the one until you DO open up. So, you're stuck.
And the choice always boils down to living in fear versus opening up even when you're afraid of getting hurt, and just trusting you'll be okay even if you do.
Sure, it stings right now to know you opened up and then you were rejected, or he pulled back.
But that's life. We get stung, now and then. This is what sports teach us, when we're growing up. This is what life teaches us: You win some, you lose some.
But, of course, the price of losing, when it comes to the heart, is that it hurts so goddamn badly. That's why we so often recoil back into a shell of fear.
The real success is in sticking your heart back out there and loving, and choosing to NOT live in fear. For, again, all of life, every decision boils down to that fundamental choice: fear versus trust. It's not even fear versus love, really. We all feel the love and want to express it; it's our natural state. But what keeps us hamstrung, what keeps us from expressing that love is that we fear getting hurt. More specifically, we fear that we won't be okay, that the pain will be too great, that we just explode or die from the pain.
Thus, what is needed is the experience of being okay and making our way through the pain, of surviving it a few times and realizing, "Hey, I did it. I didn't explode or die." For when we have that experience enough times, we begin to realize life isn't as terrifying as we always thought it was. We realize that we can risk again, we can open again, we can express our heart again.....TRUSTING that we'll be okay, we'll survive, and we'll even thrive, once again, even if we do get hurt.
Everything boils down to this. Everything boils down to this fundamental choice between choosing to live behind the walls in fear or choosing to come out from behind my walls of fear and live in the full trust that I'll be okay, no matter what happens. As I wrote in my last book, "I Steal Wives," too many women (and many men) live in the Myth of the Pain-Free Relationship. But such relationships don't exist. You ARE going to get your heart hurt. Fact. And the real challenge of life is not just about learning how to deal with that pain, but it's about choosing to open up again, next time, even when you know you might get hurt. THAT is the real challenge of life, because it's far too easy to shut down, after you've been hurt once or twice; or it's even easier (and far more detrimental to the soul) to hold on to someone who is toxic for me or not right for me, simply because I'm afraid of opening up again to someone new
As an aside, all of this is why I am a huge advocate of kids starting to date early. I think it is far better to have these loves and break-ups at an early age, within the safe sort of laboratory of the home, than to wait to later to get their heart expanded with love and then contracted with heartbreak, sorrow, and fear. I mean, if the real goal of parenting is both to help the child enjoy childhood AND prepare for adulthood, then how am I preparing a child for adulthood by sheltering them from experiences of love that have the power to teach them and grow them. I wanted my own kids to date young so that they would get used to break-ups and realize that the heart has the power to heal and move on, AND that the next person is often far better suited to who they are than the last person, in no small part because each person we love expands us and makes us more complete, wiser, and deeper. I wanted to teach my kids, at a young age, to push through the fear of getting hurt and to have the courage to express their heart, again and again, each year, even knowing they might get hurt.....because I know that the only alternative to the life of opening the heart is a life of contracting the heart and living in fear.
So, getting back to this point, let me ask: Do you have the courage to keep opening? Do you have the courage to follow the heart in each new direction and to keep opening and revealing not just your love, but also your truest self?
See that is the grand challenge of life -- to reveal who you really are. And that is the difference between happiness and unhappiness. Happiness increases the more we have the courage to open and express our truth -- our real self -- even when we know there is risk of getting hurt if we do so. Conversely, our happiness decreases as we pull back in fear.
So, to what love must you open today? To what love or treasured one -- friend, lover, ex-love, mate, parent, child, co-worker, boss -- must you open up, today? To whom are you being called from within to express truth about who you really are? I know you're terrified to open up, because you fear a row or rejection, but open you must, trusting that you will be okay, no matter what happens.
And this is what courage is.