Let your guard down
Have you ever been hurt? Have you ever experienced the kind of emotional loss or pain that made your heart fold in on itself? Have you ever slammed down a phone, thrown it across the room and screamed into your pillow? Have you ever cried to your best friend, renouncing love and vowing to remain single forever? We are all human and we have all been hurt at one time or another. If we are lucky, once. For some, it’s too many times to count.
There is a reason Spotify is crammed bursting with broken-hearted singers. At the press of a button, you can find a song that will bring tears to your eyes and help you truly revel in your misery. There is a reason TV shows and movies include love and loss no matter the genre. There is a reason that in my counselling room, the agony of relationships comes up again and again and again.
Love is the single most powerful emotion we can feel as humans. It brings us joy, hope, passion and overwhelming happiness. But if it goes wrong? It brings pain, misery and unbearable sadness. The problem is this. To have a chance of experiencing that amazing, soul affirming, unbelievable joy, we have to take the biggest risk with our heart. We have to open it up in full knowledge that doing so could also bring the possibility of the equally unbelievable pain.
Remember that old cliché? It is better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all. Is it? Well, that’s up to you. But consider this first.
Relationships are the most important thing to a human being. The first, with our mother, is literally what our survival depends upon. We rely on her solely for comfort, food and life itself. Then as we grow, relationships are what we base ourselves around. We develop depending on what others think of us, who treats us well and who places unfair conditions of worth on us. We spend our time wanting to feel liked and appreciated. We look for people who share our thoughts, our desires and our sense of humour. We want to be wanted.
Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, relationships of some type are necessary, whether with friends, family or even just work colleagues. They are going nowhere anytime soon, unless there is a sudden zombie apocalypse. The difficult thing is, they are also completely out of our control. We can’t make people feel what we want towards us and we can’t stop them letting us down.
Our heart is the most fragile thing we can give to someone and when we do, there is no guarantee it will be coming back in one piece.
This terrifies us, especially if it has already been broken before. So what do we do? We do what we as humans automatically do for survival. We quickly put up a guard and try our very best to protect ourselves. We think we are clever and that we are doing the right thing. Our barrier is strong and can't be breached. We push people away, we refuse to trust, and we automatically assume the worst just in case someone tries to catch us out. We hold back how we feel, even from ourselves. If the guard is up, we aren’t getting hurt. Right?
Wrong. We are just hurting ourselves. We are preventing ourselves from the thing that makes us human. Makes us feel alive. To love after you’ve been hurt, to open yourself up to another person and make yourself vulnerable, is one of the most brave and terrifying things you can do. But remember. If that risk pays off, you are going to experience incredible things. This is your life. There is no dress rehearsal. Don’t get to the end and realise you never fully felt indescribable love and happiness.
Take a chance. Let your guard down.