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The Thing About Following Your Heart

followheart

“Follow your heart” is a piece of advice that gets thrown around a lot. And, by the way, I actually really like this advice.

But the thing is, there’s something that people aren’t telling you when they tell you to “follow your heart.”

The thing that they’re not telling you is this:

Following your heart is a dangerous journey.

Now, you may or may not wind up in actual physical danger, but I will absolutely guarantee you that you will end up in psychological danger.

What’s psychological danger?

Psychological danger is when you feel pulled to do something that’s socially unacceptable in some way. Psychological danger is when you have to put your pride/ego aside to do something that’s calling to you. Psychological danger is when you have to actively go toward conflict and discomfort because that’s the way you feel attracted. (There’s probably a few more examples here, but you get the point.)

Basically, psychological danger breaks you down in some way, so that what is left over is more essentially you. But it’s not fun and it’s not pretty.

This is where your heart will lead you.

Now, your heart will lead you to some really cool places too. Places that don’t require putting yourself in that danger, but it will absolutely take you to those places that, consciously at least, you don’t really want to go.

That’s why the pull of your heart is so strong. In order to get you to these places there has to be some serious energy behind that pull.

And this is why, many times, no matter what’s coming out of their mouths, people much prefer to follow their heads. Because it seems like a much safer way to go. And it is.

It’s just not nearly as rewarding.

What’s Next?

steps

I’m not much of a planner. Never have been.

I might make a list or two. Maybe even work with some kind of very loose plan or outline, but mostly I just like to follow along with my intuition.

Generally, I’ll just ask myself “What’s next?” as in “What’s the next step?”

This goes for life as well as writing.

Because I prefer to follow my intuition (that lovely N in INFP) and because I prefer to keep things open to possibilities (the P), making concrete plans often makes me feel a little constrained. Using the “What’s next?” strategy, I keep myself moving along, while staying open to possibilities — often things I never saw coming (which I love).

Even with a large project or task, simply asking yourself “What’s next?” works just fine, because, if you think about it, you can only ever take the next step. I can’t take the step four steps from now. I’ll take that when I get there. I only have to worry about what’s next, because steps, by their nature, build upon one another.

The beauty of this is, is that while you’re only taking the next step, steps add up. Faster than you might think.

If you take one step every day, by the end of the week you’ve taken seven steps, and by the end of the month thirty. That can really add up.

So, if you’re like me and you don’t work that well with traditional planning methods, maybe you don’t need to. Maybe you just need to ask yourself: “What’s next?”

Chopsticks

About seven or eight years ago, I went through a period of time where I was regularly ordering take-out Chinese food. And every single time afterward, I wouldn’t feel that great.

The funny thing was that for a while that didn’t stop me.

I mean, it got delivered to my apartment and it was tasty. What was there not to like?

Nothing. Except the feeling that I got after I ate it.

Probably once a week, maybe once every two weeks, I’d order Chinese food for delivery, and every single time afterward, I’d go, “I’ve gotta stop doing this. I’m not going to order this anymore.”

And then a week later, my doorbell would ring and my lo mein would arrive.

It probably took ten or so times, enough for a pattern to develop, before I finally would think about how I was going to feel after eating the Chinese food, while I was thinking about ordering it.

And then I would go, “Hmmm, I didn’t feel that great last time I ate this, maybe I should eat something else.”

Knowing what was going to happen after I ate the Chinese food, even though I still wanted to eat Chinese food, stopped me from ordering it.

Because the thing is, I never stopped wanting it.

But once a pattern developed and I could see that – over time – the bad feeling happened every time, it made me rethink my desire for Chinese food.

And so the story ends well. I stopped ordering Chinese food, and therefore stopped feeling not-so-great every time I ate it. But it took a little while.

Today, wanting to order Chinese food and knowing how I’m going to feel afterward are intricately tied together, so that when I have the craving I immediately have the realization of how I’m going to feel after, and it stops me. And it’s the only thing that does.

Because, come on, who doesn’t like lo mein?

NaNoWriMo 2015

 

File Nov 09, 7 07 28 PM

I’m participating in NaNoWriMo again this year and I wanted to let you know that I’m posting the novel in a couple of places as I go along in all its raw glory. So, if you’re interested in seeing what I’m up to, here it is on Wattpad and also on Smashwords.

It’s a young adult novel called Lakeside and I originally had the idea that it would be about a girl who was so uncool she became cool. This has changed and I’m not sure I have a nice neat description all worked out yet but I’ll just say it involves a partly-dry lake, badminton, pop culture trivia and evil spirits.

Take a look if you’re interested.

 

 

 

 

Haiku Tuesday – The Walk

  

 
manicured green lawns

Halloween decorations

clear, blue cloudless sky

 

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