This happens too often:

I feel tentative, my stomach clenching as I contemplate it.  My mind is going ten to the dozen with a toxic mixture of ideas of how to get out of it and images of the many ways it can go wrong and I can look bad.  Dread washes over me and, instinctively, without even knowing it, I turn my attention away.  To football, internet surfing, games, anything that can anaesthetise me to the prospect I am facing. I am a fraud.

This does not happen enough:

I feel a surge of warmth and light, big and strong and powerful as I contemplate it.  Colours radiate, there is sunshine glowing out of my stomach.  I am calm, I feel my breathing; slow, deep and certain.  I might be smiling, it certainly feels like it.  My mind is quiet.  The prospect of it sits in the open palm of my hand, no need to grasp, no need to try hard, just let it be..   It is enough; I am enough.

The difference between these two scenarios, both of which I know and have experienced again regularly and recently, is not the ‘it’ that I am contemplating.  It would be easy to assume the first scenario is something like a visit to the dentist and the second a walk in the woods.  It would be an incorrect assumption.

The difference between the two scenarios is my attitude, and specifically the level of my wholeheartedness.  I have the technology to measure my heart rate, calories burned, steps walked – if only my watch could measure my wholeheartedness.  Perhaps it would be the reminder I need?

I have been a regular user of the terms ‘wholehearted’ and “half hearted’ as long as I can remember.  Only this year did I start to really explore what they mean to me, particularly in the embodied sense.   I am still learning about that; its been painful and illuminating , and occasionally joyous and humiliating.

I realised quite early on that half–heartedness was a way of hiding, of staying safe.  But from what?  Fear? Perhaps from the reality of the decisions I had made?  Perhaps from allowing vulnerability in?  Or intimacy?  Or death? I am learning the back story of all this, but what’s more helpful is that I am starting to realise that by bringing it into the open I have some more choice about it. 

And I am starting to appreciate that being wholehearted more often and half hearted less often is a great objective to have, as it seems to bring more joy, appreciation and gratitude; as well as effectiveness, impact and productivity.

And I am also discovering that it is an excellent way of finding out whether what I am doing is the ‘right’ thing to be doing.  When I’m half hearted that doesn’t seem to matter, it is like sort of sleepwalking through by not fully engaging in life, work, whatever.  When I’m wholehearted I seem to be able to make some wiser choices.  So that’s handy.

All of which could be read as a cathartic, psycho-ramble from someone who needs to get out more!  And it’s offered as a provocation for you.

When are you truly and fully wholehearted?  What does it feel like?  When do you choose to stay half-hearted? To play safe?  What would your own wholeheartedness tracker tell you about the way you are living your life?

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Comment by Julie Drybrough on September 13, 2016 at 22:50

Oh Nick I just love this - wholeheartedly. I love your questions and provocation.. 

I can only be fully wholehearted when I feel safe and trustful - a bloody minefield for me.. much of my growth/ development stuff is linked to a lack of trust and belief, in myself, in others... and my heart quails and half shows up. 

Wholeheartedly? I am warmer, more generous, more open, more curious, I'm a better conversationalist and a lot more chilled.. and I definitely smile more.

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