Respond to any call that makes your soul happy. – Rumi

Who holds you back from living your best life? Chances are that you answered myself. The person that limits you most is you. You are the lid that contains you. To experience more in life – more joy, more satisfaction, fulfillment, and meaning – you must say “Yes” to your heart. Your unbridled heart will lead you to the life you imagine. Honoring your heart’s desire is the best thing you can do for others too. Because when you put your heart first and take good care of yourself, you have greater capacity to be and do good for others.

I had operated for so long in my life with such restraint that I seldom moved away from the borders of my self-limiting box. I did good for others and enjoyed my life for the most part, yet a voice inside troubled me insistently calling me to something more. But my fear kept me uncertain and stagnant. I wrote about how I broke free from the box that limited my true potential in our new book, The Call to Soar.

After a revealing week at a spiritual retreat, I wished I could stay in the self-honoring bubble created there forever. The beautiful resort overlooking the scenic coastline was rich with amenities. Being there created the space to practice doing the things for myself that I often neglected. I pampered myself at the spa, took peaceful walks on the ocean’s edge, and relaxed in luxury accommodations. Returning home meant that I would pick up my caregiver role and other responsibilities again; however, I knew I would not return the same.

The retreat had exposed the one thing that held me back from living my most fulfilled and successful life. So, I made a promise that I knew I needed to make to myself: I will say “Yes” to my heart even in the face of fear because I deserve it. I said no more to the falsehood of fear. It was clear that only I restrained me and denied my heart’s desire. No one else did it to me.

For instance, when I would see something that I wanted, feelings of enthusiasm would rise in my heart, but I would often talk myself out of having it. Rationalizing to myself, “What if this happens or that happens…” or “You don’t need that right now. It can wait!” Time after time, I said “No” to what I really wanted until it was difficult to even recognize my desires anymore.

As the taxi drove away from the resort, I looked back over my shoulder and remembered all that had transpired that week. I knew the old me was no more. I had taken the restraints off my heart. I trusted the wisdom that lived inside me. I knew my gut reaction would help me keep my commitment to myself.

Are You Lost About What Your Heart Wants?

Many women too often forsake their dreams and desires to support someone else’s. We don’t speak up for what’s important to us. Although we don’t always enjoy the direction we’re headed, we go along crossing our fingers for things to get better.  We give more weight to the other person’s feelings than our own needs. That’s fine when the matter is not very important to you and it is much more important to the other person, but it is not okay when deferring to others means muting your voice in the process. Over time, we begin to devalue our dreams. Later in life, it becomes tougher to sense what it is that will make us truly happy because we’ve neglected our happiness for so long that we’ve lost touch with our own passion and joy.

Is It Selfish to Honor Your Heart?

Saying yes to everyone else except yourself is killing you. Not all at once, but little by little your heart closes itself off from expression and locks the magic of life inside. Over the years, your unmet needs and desires will metastasize to other areas of your life, leaving you discontent and unhappy or manifest itself as a physical illness.

You owe it to yourself to become keenly aware of what your heart wants. Hear it and honor it. Say “Yes” to the things that are important to you and that serve your interests too. Of course, you can concede to others when you want to, but not when you feel guilted to do it or when you know you will later complain about it. Saying “Yes” to your heart is not selfish; it is more like “self-also.” We can certainly be generous towards others and ourselves too, can’t we? The Bible, which is a wisdom teacher for me, instructs us to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The phrase is, “as yourself,” not “more than yourself.” I take it to mean “to the same degree as yourself.” That’s not self-only; that is self-also. No matter what others think, say “Yes” even if you have to do it afraid because your heart deserves your attention.

Not Sure Where to Start?

Saying “Yes” to your heart is a practice. How do you practice it? Well… before you agree to someone else’s request, check in with your heart and ask, “Does my heart want to do this?” Then, listen. Is it a “Yes?” Not by guilt, should, or ought-to, but is it truly a “Yes?”

This practice is about finding your voice and confidently asserting your own needs and wants. Who told you that your voice doesn’t matter or that you should take a back seat to others?

You can have a servant’s heart while caring for yourself too. Is it always possible to honor your heart and serve the other person’s needs at the same time? No, but your heart gets priority. Why? Because if you love others as yourself, you deserve the same consideration that you give to them.

So, if you see a need or you get a request, ask yourself, “Does my heart want to do this?” If the answer is “Yes,” then it is an easy answer. If your heart responds “No” (or offers any hint of resistance), then consider what you can do that your heart can say “Yes” to. This sometimes takes a little time to sort out, so give yourself enough space to come to the answer.

What Is Your Criteria For Saying “Yes?”

What is your mechanism for knowing if you are honoring your heart? I had made a habit of taking on almost every charitable, “for free” request that came my way. So much so, that the time spent in giving my time away was bankrupting my business. With guidance from my coach, I created some criteria for saying “Yes” to requests of my time and talent. I used the acronym E-M-S because it truly was a medical emergency of sorts. The E stood for energy. I only wanted to agree to doing work that energized me. Things that I truly felt thrilled about and inspired by.  The M stood for money. My feelings of unworthiness and a false air of arrogance often blocked me from charging my true value or even asking for the sale. I wanted to change my relationship with money. So, before I agreed to anything I asked myself, “Will I make money?” The S stood for space. I wanted to maintain openness and flexibility in my schedule instead of filling my cup to the brim. I had realized busyness did not guarantee a successful business; it only exhausted me and weakened my impact on others. For a period time, I only said “Yes” if two of these three criteria were met, and in my case, making money always had to be one of the two.

Answer these questions with your heart: What is a high-level commitment I need to make to myself? Who will support me?

I’d love to support you and I know you will experience more growth and success as part of a thriving community. Join One Degree Shift and you’ll have access to on-demand coaching and the encouragement of a like-minded community. Make a commitment to your heart today. Registration is open now. Click here to sign up for coaching in order to live your best life in 2017.