Why “Follow Your Heart” Is The Worst Advice I Ever Received

“Just follow your heart!

You hear it all the time in romantic comedies and Disney films. I would often receive this piece of advice from friends and follow it. After all, it seemed like the easiest solution to any problem. Simply give the heart what it wants, right?

Wrong.

It worked for Cinderella, but I have found that it often does not work in a reality where animals do not talk and a fairy godmother cannot wave your conflict away with her magic wand.

BIG QUOTELauryn Hill once sang, “What you want might make you cry. What you need might pass you by if you don’t catch it.”

Time and time again I’ve learned that what I wanted wasn’t always best for me, whether it was a relationship, job, financial decision; etc. Making decisions based on fleeting emotions often resulted in fleeting happiness as well.

And by neglecting better decisions, I probably missed out on better boyfriends, better jobs, and even a better credit score. Divine opportunities are not like buses or trains, where if you miss one, another will be along shortly thereafter. Some don’t return.

The Bible says, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool (Prov. 28:26).” It is speaking of our souls – the seat of our emotions. And when we follow it we are choosing what feels good or what feels comfortable. Life truly begins outside the comfort zone and our hearts don’t steer us toward struggle and conflict. But as Oprah once said, “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”

Think of any tough decision you’ve made that didn’t initially feel good but was better for you in the long run.

  • Going back to school (Working and going to school are the stuff nightmares are made of)
  • Walking away from a relationship that lost its meaning
  • Starting a fitness program

Staying with your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend may have been what you wanted. But a relationship solely built on the comfort and safety of familiarity was not what you needed.

This isn’t about being heartless; it’s about loving yourself. The heart can often guilt you into making decisions that benefit others at the expense of your short and long term well-being. I know it’s tough when you’re dealing with the feelings of others. But you can’t let your heart blind you to the obvious. A little rationality can go a long way when it comes to matters of the heart. Evangelist and author Joyce Meyer once said, “When you learn to speak the truth in love, you’re free to say no.”

In most instances, deep down we have the solutions to the things that trouble us. However, we look for an easy pass when we accept a piece of advice that pretty much tells us “Do what you want,” rather than “Do what is best.”

So, no; I will not follow my heart. Because like parents looking out for their child, there are times where I have to eat my broccoli, rather than go for the chocolate cake.

—Tara Pook

Small Moments of Self-Care

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We all need those brief escapes that give us peace of mind. Today’s world moves so fast that it can be hard to live in the moment. Especially for self-proclaimed dreamers, we are always thinking of our next move. Before you find yourself on the verge of crashing from anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation, etc., incorporate what I call small moments of self-care.

For those who hear the ‘self’ in self-care and automatically assume selfishness, an article from Psychology Today describes the difference best:

“Although people, especially women, often think of self-care as selfish, just the opposite is true. Being selfish is to be focused on one’s own needs regardless of the needs of others. Selfish acts come at the expense of others. Self-care, on the other hand, is intentionally taking time to do something that energizes you.”

-Laurie B. Mintz, Ph.D, The Unselfish Act of Self-Care, Psychology Today

For those who may be the “strong tower” for your friends and family, understand that you cannot be there for them if you’re all burned out. Though difficult for your inner Olivia Pope, at some point you have to give the constant fixer mentality a rest and exercise the power of no.

Your moments of self-care should not only energize you, but also improve your mental, physical or emotional health. So although an evening of Netflix binging and a pepperoni pizza from my favorite spot on the West Side would be quite lovely, I know that it doesn’t quite count as self-care.

Good self-care is going to be unique to everyone. I enjoy sitting down with a cup of chai tea and my notebook, while my sister Jessie enjoys going for a morning/evening run. Both acts are intentional, which I find to be an important criterion. We both set out to do these acts because they bring us peace.

For me, writing out my feelings helps me to make sense of them before moving forward. It is also a way for me to be creative as I pen new ideas. In this way I find that I’m enhancing my emotional health. For Jessie, running obviously improves her physical health, as well as helps her to relieve stress.

Now some of you may respond to this by saying, “Yeah this sounds nice, but I’m way too busy.” 

If you could set aside 20 to 30 minutes each day (See? Small moments of self-care!), you’d be doing yourself a great service. Just as we abide by scheduled hair appointments or doctor appointments, you should also abide by scheduled moments of self-care. Your time could include praying, meditating, going for a walk, seeing a counselor, or even screening a call from someone who only reaches out when they need a favor.

It’s important to make your health a priority. If you’re like me, you love to help others as much as you can. Just remember that it’s OK if one of those people is you.

So tell me, what are you currently doing or would like to do to take better care of yourself? Share with me in the comments.

—Tara Pook

 

Dream On

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My dreams were always hard to verbalize to others. The aspirations I have come to me in full vivid visions, and that can be hard to put into words. Often times I appear unsure or insecure as I try to explain to those who ask about my life goals, but it’s actually the opposite.

I am confident in my creativity. I am confident in my dreams. Whether you understand them or not is not my concern.

I continue to dream.

—Tara Pook

Spring Is Sure To Follow

 

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When people I meet find out that I moved back to New York from Florida, I’m often hit with the same question, “Why are you here?” 

Sarcastically I reply, “For the lovely weather, of course!” 

This winter has been quite the welcome back present. I’ve been fighting snow, bone chilling winds, and negative temperatures. Most days I walk out the door looking like the little brother from A Christmas Story. If it had not been for the Lord and my ankle-length down coat from Land’s End, I don’t know where I’d be.

Perhaps what’s getting me through this is that I know spring will be here soon.

Or I’ll be on a flight to South Florida. I don’t know. Whichever comes first.

During this winter I’ve also been dealing with an overwhelming schedule. A full course load, more than one job, and volunteer work require the energy and time management skills that I don’t have. I often turn to family to complain, in hopes of them somehow telling me about a distant relative who left me with a hefty inheritance so I can be void of responsibility.

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Don’t Forget Self-Love On Valentine’s Day

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It seems like so many are looking for love in clubs and cafés, while overlooking one of the most important places– the mirror.

This may be shrugged off this Valentine’s Day as you see countless Instagram posts of couples exclaiming their affection for each other. A romance between two people can be special, but as Oscar Wilde once wrote, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

The journey to self-love is not an easy one, but it is vital for a happier and more fulfilling life. For me the path was troublesome at times with harsh self-criticism, low self-confidence, and teenage acne. The only affirmation I received came from outside relationships.

One tough lesson I learned is that your validation should never lie in another human being. This was made clear to me after the end of a relationship. It wasn’t the nicest way to learn about self-love, but the message has been forever cemented in my spirit.

When you’re in love, you seek to please the object of your affection. And when this love is also directed towards yourself, the same applies. Since reaching a place of acceptance and love for myself, I make better decisions. This is reflected in my pursuit of goals, who I surround myself with, and how I carry myself. I choose to go after things that will make me happy; I choose to surround myself with those who are kind and inspire me; and I choose to walk with my head high, even on days when I’d rather just crawl back into bed.

If you consistently make poor decisions in life and love, what message are you sending yourself? You deserve to reap the benefits of healthy choices. This comes from self-love.
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Mom & Dad on Love & Marriage

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 1.34.31 AM They started off as teenage friends back in the day. My dad said she read a book on their first date [Her argument: “I didn’t read a book, I flipped through it. And it may have been a magazine.”], but today they’re celebrating 27 years of wedded bliss. In honor of their special day, I asked them the best advice they ever received about love and marriage.

“Whenever I used to visit my grandmother with your dad, she was always quick to tell me to get in that kitchen and make him a plate of food. So one time she cornered me and said, ‘Girl, you better take care of that man [laughter]. If you don’t do it, someone else will.’  That was advice I’ve always remembered. I may not have always applied it [laughter], but she always said you better take care of your man. You have to remember she came from a different generation. Back in her day, that’s how they operated. But with my generation, things were just beginning to change for young women. It became ‘I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan [laughter].’ Thinking about what my grandmother said, I think I thought, ‘Why does it have to be all about pleasing your man? What about me?’ And I think it just had to do with that era. What it comes down to is that a marriage takes two, it can’t be all about one person. It has to be about the wants and needs and desires of the other person as well. You have to try to make each other happy, instead of the focus being on one person. Because if the other person’s dreams aren’t met, they aren’t fulfilled in the relationship. So what it all comes down to is, make each other happy.” — Mom

“It is something I believed I told you some time ago about what a former boss said to me. He said you won’t always feel love for your wife. You may love her or be in love with her, but you won’t always feel love because there will be times of disagreement resulting in hurt feelings or anger. But it is those times that you must operate not on feelings, but commitment. You must remember that you made a commitment to that woman. That is the best advice I have ever received on marriage.” — Dad

Over the years I’ve been given plenty of advice on love from my parents, but what I learned came from from what I saw, not always what I heard.
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Bittersweet: A Poem

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I have come to learn that there are two types of people–  those who God placed in our lives for a lifetime and those only meant to be around for a season. Hanging on to something that once was will either cause you emotional harm or further diminish what you both had shared. It can be quite bittersweet when you think about it.

So when it’s time to let go, let go. Pray for the courage to walk away and most importantly, acceptance so that you never look back.

Tara Pook