Are You Connecting with an Open Heart?

Are You Connecting with an Open Heart?If I were to be asked, “Are you connecting with an open heart?”, I would probably answer yes. After all, my intention is to help, inspire or motivate at least one woman every day. That requires connection.

And then I might get quiet and feel a little tension arise in my lower abdomen.

My mind would start whirling.

And I would wonder, “Am I really?”

Connecting with an open heart:

If you’ve been reading my posts, you already know that I’m a big Brené Brown fan. I’m finally getting around to reading her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, and of course, quotes are jumping out for my attention, inspiring me to reflect and to write (as they always do).

Big (and painful) aha’s came up for me in Brown’s comments on connection.

“When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”

“…I understand how I derived self-worth from never needing help and always offering it.”

AHA. Judgment: A roadblock to open heart connection.

If you’re like me, you take pride in being able to “do it yourself” when it comes to just about anything. In fact, I have taken pride in (and have been consistently praised for) being able to take the ball and run from as far back as I can remember. It’s been part of my identity.

People trust me to get the job done (paid or unpaid) – efficiently and with high quality. My preference has always been to do that independently, which for me, has been defined as mostly alone. That’s so I can maintain as much control as possible. And, to a certain extent, it has been to respect my introvert energy needs.

But I’m seeing that judgment is on the flip side of that pride coin (actually the entire coin is judgment). I have grown up believing that strength is proven in doing it alone or in being the person who others can look up to and depend on (I’m the oldest of many siblings – it’s some of my ‘big sister’ stereotypes & perfection issues showing up). Therefore, it would follow (unintentionally) that wanting or needing help is weakness.

As I write that, it pains me to connect the dots to the work I do.

Offering help has never been a problem for me. I’m happy to share what I know or use my skills to help people prosper. Receiving (or even asking), on the other hand, has not been so easy. That’s where all the self-worth issues come up. And that’s where I thought it ended. Until Brown’s work got me truth seeking.

It feels so utterly insulting…I would never intend to come across in a way that suggests or assumes that you are not enough (aka too weak to figure it out on your own so you need me to enlighten you). I’m sorry.

Because I’m still learning to have an open heart to receive, it seems that I am still learning to have an open heart to give. I’m right there beside you in working through the challenges that become a barrier to authentic connection. As you can see, I’m certainly no guru (and I can assure you that I don’t want to be).

It seems so obvious as I continue to ponder: If it feels icky to judge others for seeking help, why do we allow it to be acceptable to judge ourselves for reaching out?

We create our own barriers to open heart connection. That means we can choose to remove them, bit by bit. Start with awareness…

Please share this post with a woman in your life who is a “giver”…and who is still learning to “receive”.

14 thoughts on “Are You Connecting with an Open Heart?”

  1. Marla, I have been hearing about this book and I must read it. As a recovering perfectionist, I too blocked my ability to receive help and I can see how it hindered my open heart connection with others. As I have let go of my desire of control, I have opened up to receive, and feel joy.

    1. Thanks for your comment Elayna. I totally relate to the desire for control and the negative stress that I have experienced as a result – letting go continues to be an area ‘in progress’ in my life. As with most things, it starts with intention and awareness…

  2. Marla, your post has gotten me thinking. I too am the oldest of 5 – and still get in trouble for offering or just giving advice sometimes when it’s not wanted – to my siblings but more to my partner. I always feel it’s in good faith but perhaps there’s something about about me wrapped up in it. I think I’m OK receiving help but I don’t ask very often. I need to pick up Brene’s book to learn more.

  3. Haven’t ventured into Brene Brown past Ted Talks but have intended to . This is a topic our pastor put out for us and so many are generous, but reluctant to accept help.

    I learned the hard way when I needed help. A wise friend told me to give my friends the gift of giving, by accepting graciously. Changed my way of looking at it

  4. AAARGHHH…. giving and receiving… a topic that is often entangled with believes and self worth issues indeed…

    I love the way you open up on your blog. What you write really touches the heart and is so recognizable. After having a relationship breaking down on me, I had to take a look in the mirror myself only to realize I was giving with a closed heart. Giving with the intention to ‘recieve love’. Woops…. I take deep proud in having gone through my issues the last 20 years and it takes a lot of courage to look in the mirror and say “Okay, I did it again’… 😉

    Keep writing, you are inspiring!
    Love, Live, Enjoy.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Linda. Courage to be more YOU every day does not mean aiming for perfection…we are human and always learning. Self-compassion is so important.

  5. I’ve read Brene’s book and enjoyed it very much. Like you the door pretty much always swings one way with me. For better or worse I’ve allowed a couple of significant let downs along the way continue to feed my resistance to accepting from others, but I appreciate your message. Maybe it’s time to follow some of my own advice.:-) Thanks for the inspiration Marla.

    1. Indeed, there is a sense of vulnerability in receiving. For me, how we choose to give can be controlled (to an extent). Still, I think it’s important to be choosy when we’re asking for help – there has to be trust, respect, and a feeling of alignment. Sharing the journey Marquita!

  6. Wow – Marla, this post really got me thinking.

    Like you, I’m the eldest sibling, and I’ve always taken pride in my independence and ability to do things myself where possible.

    It’s not that I’ve refused to seek help when I’ve needed it, or actively seen myself as weak or needy for reaching out… but there’s always been a kind of “self-esteem premium” I’ve allowed myself to put on managing things on my own.

    This post really does put that into a different light… thank you for sharing it!



    1. Yes, I have equated that self-esteem premium to “this is me & this is how I do it”, not really looking beneath the surface in the way Brown describes. There’s always more to the story…and we have until our final breath to create & tweak ours 🙂 Thanks for your feedback Tanja.

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