Never Give Up
Years ago, midway through my self-compassion practice, I was inspired by a speech the Dalai Lama gave called, “Never Give Up.” Its basic point was that we spend most of our lives developing the mind with little thought of developing our heart, meanwhile most of our suffering comes from trying to control things with our minds without the capacity to endure, soothe, and nurture things with our hearts.
I Westernized this teaching for my own purposes, which I entitled, “Don’t Give Up The Heart,” to remind myself that when social forces and peer pressure would ask me to choose my mind, money, power, or status that I needed to prioritize the heart. It’s pretty logical on its face. None of the other things last or remain meaningful. They also fail by themselves to bring you happiness. It is only when they accompany something else that they become satisfactory, and potentially nice. That one thing is the heart.
The Watered Down, Westernized View Of The Heart
The problem with urging people to follow and embolden their heart is that many people have a watered down, westernized view of the heart. They mistake heart for whimsy, self-centeredness, naivete, or personal gratification. They say, “ I know she was not a great fit for me, but I decided to turn off my brain, and listen to my heart.”
Really? Your heart told you to pursue someone that you knew would make you unhappy or cause you great suffering in the future. I don’t know if you dialed the wrong number, but I would try your heart again. That sounds more like you followed your ego, or you followed your desire to satiate something. The heart, the way self-compassion understands it, is the part of yourself that is understanding, supportive, soothing, and urges you towards your core values (the principles that give your life the most meaning).
The Self-Compassionate Heart
The heart, in this sense, makes contact with your immediate experience, and uses your bodily response to be a test of what is really important, what makes you feel most at ease, and how you might go about approaching a reality that prioritizes these two things. Self-Compassion is the vehicle it uses to be present while forming this blueprint, and then later as the tool to understand, process, and grow from the challenges that you experience along the way. That is your truth.
So, asking one to be loyal to their heart is another way to say that they should keep coming back to honoring their truth, and the truths of others despite social pressure to avoid this awareness via the distractions of money, power, and status. Most of us can understand that. We have seen celebrities and politicians be able to live a pretty entertaining life with those aforementioned three things until they experience some turbulence, and then without a value placed on their heart and the hearts of others, they find themselves overwhelmed and unable to cope. It is really not their fault. If you have never been presented with an opportunity to develop a skill, surely you cannot be expected to exercise it when life gives you its most difficult tests.
Moving Past Social Rewards
Money, power, status, awards, the limelight, we like these things. How the heck are we supposed to forgo them to go on some weird journey to the heart? Can’t we just get a t-shirt or some cool beads, and call it a day? What if we just donate to a really good cause? That’s the funny thing. There is nothing wrong with money, power, and status on their own. In fact, you can use all of these things to help people, or even live really well, and we want you to live as well as you can. That being said, these things cannot be used to replace your personal journey to self-acceptance, purpose, and self-compassion. There is little about life that makes sense without love, and if you cannot love yourself, you are going to have a heck of a time loving other people, especially the obnoxious ones!
Easy Steps To Help You Never Give Up The Heart
So, have some compassion for yourself, when people ask you to give up your time to recharge, to take care of yourself, to wear or watch things that just make you feel good, and make time for these things anyway because, under no circumstances, will you give up the heart. Then, nurture the crap out of that heart. Notice how you feel this very second. Name it. Soften around the parts of you that are tense. Ask yourself how you can be kind to yourself, and incline deeply into the sense of ease this gives you.
Use that as a metric to get a sense of what you need to truly be happy, to be inspired, and to do meaningful things that give you purpose. You are never too old or too young for self-compassion. The heart only becomes stronger over time. Long before we can ever speak, and long after we can speak no more, this very thing will ground us in the ever-changing matrix that is the world. It is worth developing. Remember that. And, no matter what the world offers you, don’t give up the heart.
365 Days of Self-Compassion. Day 228. In The Books.