Heart-Centered Women [and Men] Are Human Nature’s Stars
At Women Connected we focus on releasing the qualities of our heart and mind.
What does it mean to be a heart-centered? Is it just being emotional as is so often characterized?
Heart qualities are more than acknowledging our feelings and needs (yet a big part too!). They also include generosity, truthfulness, tolerance, compassion, clarity, mindfulness of the present moment, collaboration, empathy, patience, and well-wishing.
As women, we are often criticized in the workplace for exhibiting these heart qualities and may even feel that having an open-heart creates a level of vulnerability that we don’t want to experience.
I have seen where this criticizing has led women to disconnect from their hearts – their emotional side (the source of so much rich data I might add) and even get a reputation of someone with “no heart”.
It can be beneficial at times to be able to put your feelings to the side.
This is a level of emotional intelligence when you can notice and observe what you’re feeling and are able to be choiceful about how and when to express those feelings. But when you continually postpone dealing with your real feelings, you eventually have trouble accessing them and, eventually, this habit can lead to becoming so distanced from your needs and feelings that you no longer know who you are or what you need.
Narcissism is at the other end of the continuum of being heart-centered.
Narcissists care principally about themselves – and about others only to the degree that they reflect well upon themselves. They are intensely self-centered, with a limited ability to empathize with anyone else’s feelings of needs. Once they become narcissistic, they have little capacity to form lasting, mutually satisfying relationships.
At the extreme of narcissism, these individuals are in constant conflict with people – and they can be vindictive and malicious towards anyone who they believe is a threat to their self-image. They believe in their own superiority and are competitive with the same people from whom they want admiration.
They can become hostile when they feel they don’t receive the admiration they deserve. They cannot live with people and they can’t live without them.
Asking someone who is narcissistic to do something your way rather than theirs is likely to sound to them like you’re telling them what to do.
Recovering narcissists often describe their ability to be “chameleon-like”. They recall their ability to adapt to any situation and tell others what they want to hear. They know which behaviors and words will get them to their own desired outcome.
Narcissists are self-promoters and do whatever it takes to be noticed, successful, and celebrated. They believe that all they need to do is manage their image are usually willing to do this at any price.
Today’s competitive workplace is creating a culture of narcissism. The pursuit of excellence is being replaced by the celebration of the artificial.
Narcissism and heart-centered in action.
A few years ago, my mom went from a healthy vibrant woman to stage four lung cancer in what seemed to be overnight. Suddenly, I was responding to non-stop emergencies and crises as her health rapidly declined in the four months before she passed away.
I was working a part-time engagement at the time of 3 days a week and reported to two different women. They were both executive level women who had worked for this same company for many years, and were also around my age.
One had lost her father a year earlier.
With the one leader, our weekly touch-bases became a time of support as she empathically shared with me her understanding of my experience, she worked with me to arrange my schedule so I could take my mom to doctor’s appointments, and she offered herself if I needed to talk at any time. This woman is deeply heart-centered. Her support and flexibility to work with me through work and life, allowed me to keep my spirits up as best as possible and deliver on the work product.
The other woman initially expressed support but it very quickly turned to hostility.
One moment in particular that I remember was the week that my mom died. We had transitioned to home hospice and as the oldest child and her executor, many responsibilities were on my shoulders. I was very burdened by the process, as anyone who has gone through this knows, and so deeply sad to be losing the primary woman in my life.
I called both my bosses to tell them what was happening, that I would be out for the week, and began to rearrange my schedule. This second boss became irate. “You are supposed to be in Philadelphia!” “We arranged this meeting months ago!” “This is unacceptable….!” AND, she was s-c-r-e-a-m-i-n-g at me. This woman is at the opposite end of heart-centered and is a narcissist. She cared about my situation only to the extent that she wasn’t impacted.
Waking up to our hearts
When we live disconnected from our hearts – there is an inner emptiness. It can feel like living in a house where all the doors are closed and when you open a door the room is empty. We might feel lonely and yet believe loneliness to be a necessary price.
Whether you have shut down your heart, compartmentalized your life so you live from your heart at home but not at work, or are teetering somewhere around the middle of the heart-centered/narcissistic continuum, it is possible to reconnect with our hearts and become heart-centered women again.
When a woman is connected to her feelings and emotions – when she is heart-centered – she feels worthwhile and valuable not because of others’ validation of her but because she is in touch with herself and guided by this knowledge. She has an overwhelmingly positive self-esteem and cannot be affected by the opinion of others. She lives from a place of purpose. She has integrated her feelings and is warm and genuine in her personal life and her career.
Reconnecting with our hearts is inner work.
Here are a few questions to begin asking yourself to see if you’re living from your heart:
- Are you more concerned with what’s important to others and abandon your own ideas if they don’t seem to fit with others’ expectations?
- Can you describe what you’re feeling and need RIGHT NOW?
- Are you able to articulate your inner purpose? Your raison d’etre? And do you use your purpose to guide your actions, words, and decisions. (Hint – your purpose is not your career.)
- Are you overstressing your body through work, poor eating habits, and insufficient sleep?
- Do you actively seek diversity of thought, race, age, gender, gender preferences, and national origin in your personal and professional life?
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