“Can I live with an open heart and still protect myself from toxic people or relationships?”
This is one of the questions I received about living with an open heart this week. Here’s my answer:
This is SUCH a good question! In my last post, I talked about what it looks like to live with an open heart, but before I answer this question, let me describe in more detail what I mean by an open heart. When I say, live with an open heart, I am encouraging you to…
- Allow yourself to experience what is going on in REALTIME, without judgement. In other words, do not ‘protect’ yourself from your own feelings. Our best navigation systems are our senses, emotions, and intuition. Acknowledge them, without dwelling in them. So, with that said, if you are feeling an interaction, a situation, or a relationship is cruel, neglectful, abusive, or unhealthy in another way, then listen and do what you need to to protect yourself from the depleting situation without protecting yourself from what you are feeling. In fact, I bet living with an open heart will help you identify unhealthy situations more quickly.
- Connect with others, God/Source, and yourself by default, which I talked about in detail in the prior post. However, if a person, situation or relationship is harmful to you, connect with your needs.
- Have compassion for others AND yourself. YOU are part of the equation. You can have compassion for someone, even experience connection AND choose to not interact with them. Here is where boundary-setting comes in – boundaries are an act of self-compassion. It took me a while to realize I can have empathy and compassion for someone and yet distance myself if they are, or their situation is, unhealthy for me. In fact, if you are tolerating an unhealthy/toxic environment you have put your compassion for others above compassion for yourself.
So the short answer to this great question is – yes, you can live with an open heart and distance yourself from unhealthy interactions!
Hey, and take it from me (someone who gets opportunities to work on this skill regularly) – for those of us who are empaths and pleasers or who haven’t had healthy boundaries modeled to us, incorporating self-compassion and boundary-setting can take practice, so have patience with yourself as you integrate it into your life.
Thanks and keep the questions coming!