What does it mean to actually follow your heart? What does it mean to allow others to do that? What does the world look like in which people follow a path lead from the heart and built by the mind? Well, let’s break it down.
From my perspective, following the heart is the act of making choices based on that “gut” feeling – that inner voice we refer to as our heart strings tugging us in a particular direction or for a particular option. I have been fortunate in my life to have been able to explore those choices because my parents were supportive of that and my mom always encouraged it. The result of those decisions, whether delightful or painful, have always brought me all the things I’ve ever wanted in life, even if they weren’t always in the ways that I had expected they would be. I suppose that’s what people fear – following the heart, that tug, and risking the experience of pain, of loss, of the unknown.
My experiences have shown me that even if you experience those things, they are always followed by joy, growth, and abundance. It’s hard to see that when you can’t see the future – completely understandable – but should that stop us from following the paths that feel right in our hearts? Would you stop studying in school because of the risk of the job market being down when you graduate? No. The difference is that in the latter scenario, society has told us that studying in school is valuable irrespective of the job availability upon graduating because of the knowledge we gain along the way, which will become applicable to life eventually.
Does the same not apply to following your heart? The risk exists with every choice, and every choice comes with its own set of lessons that will be of value in life. The difference is simply in how we perceive the choice.
In order to feel comfortable with making choices by following our hearts, it often needs to be the case that we have others that support us and our choices. Now there are those who are able to make those choices without any support, and I must say those are the some of the strongest people out there. The reality, unfortunately, is that most people do not want to make choices that go outside of the support of those within their circle – be it family, friends, partners, etc. – because making those choices would or could possibly mean losing those people. But if we know that following our hearts is meant to take us on a path unique to us and meant for us, then why wouldn’t our circle support that? Well, as of right now, society in the broad sense appears to function on the assumption that certain life choices are “right” and certain ones are “wrong”, so the support one receives is entirely dependent upon one’s circle’s perspective of what exists in that duality. The moment we propose the idea of making a choice that is deemed “wrong”, even if it is the choice that we feel a ‘tug’ for, the circle of support wavers. Therefore, there is a shift that must occur in how we perceive what is a “right” or “wrong” life choice before we expect more people to feel comfortable enough to make those choices.
Another point of consideration is why we as a society, again in the broad sense of the term, feel that we even have a supposed right to “allow” people to make their own choices. The assumption that we even have such a right is preposterous because we also believe we live in a free society. How can one be free if one does not have the freedom of choice in its truest form? We can say all we want that everyone has that freedom, but if we are judging and outrightly labelling folks based on those decisions, which inherently means we are not supporting them, then how can someone make such decisions openly? Physically they can, but the pressure we place upon them mentally and emotionally by forcing them to battle the perspective of their loved ones, limits their freedom of choice and ability to listen to that inner tug, that inner voice.
People often talk about that tug as a voice, and as with any form of communication, it cannot be heard if there is noise disrupting its path. Picture a child running towards a group of toys and clearly aiming for a toy car and then hearing from their parents, “oh no, don’t you like the bear more? Isn’t that the one you want? It’s so much better!” Suddenly, the child questions whether they truly wanted the car in the first place because the choice that was initially clear upon seeing all of their options has been displaced by the insertion of these perspectives that the bear is a supposedly better option.
A better option for who though? For the child’s parents? Why do we feel that what we feel is “better” in our opinion, “right” in our opinion, would or should apply for our loved ones or even anyone for that matter? The truth is that those determinations are unique and subjective to an individual and should be left for that individual to determine. True freedom comes from leaving each to their own determinations, to their own choices, and to their own path. In supporting that freedom, we will see a change in society, and a change in how people begin to make choices.
Follow your heart
Let others do the same
Every heart beats differently
Playing its own game
Each path is its own
It bears no weight on another’s
Listen to that voice
To choose one from the other
– Akiti –