What I Learned from Getting Dumped

Butterfly Dump Truck
Long time no see!
I have learned so much since the last time I posted that I want to share, but first I’d like to fill you in on the reason for my absence, and what I have learned from my experience.

You see, one week ago today, I got dumped.

In my single days, I often had more boys chasing me than I could count on one hand. I got so good at  “define the relationship” conversations that I could break up with a guy I wasn’t even dating.

This time was different.

This time the poor sap sitting deflated on the floor, crying and praying for the pain to end was me.

We’d dabbled in this relationship for over three years now, but more recently, things started to get more serious between us. Just when it seemed like it was really going to work, something happened. The tighter I tried to hold on, the faster it slipped through my fingers.

Finally, I got a two-sentence email that revealed the truth I had been ignoring.

And now we’re done.

My freelance writing career and I are off again—this time for good.

Last week I re-read an inspiring post by Gerald Rogers, who shared what he learned from his failed marriage on the day his divorce was finalized. A big fan of postmortem analysis myself, I decided to pick my chin up and follow suit. Who knows? Maybe sharing what I messed up about my venture will help you succeed in yours.

1) “Mom-preneur” isn’t as sexy as it sounds. I wasn’t going for glamorous when I embarked on this exciting journey, but I did think it would be cool to “have it all.” It only took a week of extra whiny children, chips and hot dogs, tornado-strewn rooms and an irritable spouse to kill every myth of freelancing being “cool.”

When I decided to get mirror clear on my personal “why,” I realized that my goal was to be a full-time Mom and while connecting with other inspired, intelligent people, and that I wasn’t getting any closer to that goal by torturing myself blindly chasing money.

I learned that anything that leads an individual to true fulfillment will allow room for that person’s spouse and children as well.

2) “Wherever you are, be there.” I picked up this gem from Sandra Yancey, a wildly successful entrepreneur who heads the biggest women’s networking group in the USA.

Can you be a stellar Mom – or Dad – and an A-class business person? Absolutely! But you’re going to have to set boundaries and defend both roles fiercely.

The days I planned my time in the blocks and defended that time were the only days I made any progress. “Time-blocking” – a term borrowed from  Keller and Papasan of The One Thing fame – for me means no phone-checking during story time and no stories during email-checking time.

Truthfully, I struggle with Shiny Object Syndrome, and in any money-making marathon, the prize goes to the consistent and persistent. Clay Stevens, Author of Six Figures in Six Months, says that “Fast and Steady” works at least as well as “Slow and Steady,” because it’s more important that you keep your pace than what that pace is.

I learned that I didn’t love freelancing enough to set aside consistent time for it, especially when that meant asking my husband to help watch the kids. I wanted to be with them more than I wanted new clients.

3) Perfect your Jedi mind-reading powers – and sign contracts! I learned in my rookie year that no prospect cares what I want.

They only care whether I can write what they want.

And how they want it.

And when they want it.

And even if they have no idea to describe any of those parameters to me.

Through painful experience, I learned to ask lots of questions up front, listen carefully both to what they say and what they don’t say – and then make certain everyone’s clear enough to physically sign their name to it.

You’ll know you’ve arrived at Niche Nirvana when your ideal client says, “Oh yeah, that’s exactly what I need!” You’ll know you’ve made it to Sales Street when they sign your contract (not the same as a W-9) and then actually pays you for it. I got close enough to see both of these magical destinations, but never got to visit.

Developing my connection with the force certainly did help me to tune into why people felt drawn to me in the first place. In fact , my husband and I wrote a free eBook to share we learned about listening this way. I learned as I listened that no one wanted me to write for them, they wanted me to bolster their confidence and help them improve their lives.

4) No prospect will tell you what your work is worth. So I’ll tell you.

If you can write in English with native-level fluency, and know to proof-read carefully before you submit your work, you can be confident charging $25-30/hour to start as a freelance writer.

More of a coach than a writer? No one will take you seriously for less than $100/hour. It is common to provide 2-4 calls for $500-2000 a month to start, depending on your industry and experience level.

I looked at those numbers and – even considering insurance, child care, legal protection, contract costs etc. – felt confident in quitting my day job. This was a terrible mistake. I learned that whenever some millionaire guru says you can launch something in 90 days, know that means if you are already gainfully employed. Freelancing full-time is something that takes years to grow into, because even the bravest newbies go weeks, even months between gigs.

I learned that I needed to be clear on my price, preferred payment method, and payment structure (by project, hourly, monthly…) before I could pitch effectively. I also learned to be prepared to defend it, because if they don’t balk at it, at least a little, I was aiming WAY too low. (Not to mention the lowest paying clients also tend to be the most prone to forget to pay you at all!)

I just didn’t learn it fast enough to keep the whole thing from going down in flames.

5) You are not as smart or as talented as you think you are. Don’t get me wrong, I am confident in my intelligence and my skill, but I also know it’s a big world out there. As Seth Godin says, “Without a doubt, there’s someone taller than you, faster than you, cuter than you. We don’t have to look very far to find someone who is better paid, more respected and getting more than his fair share of credit…Compare the things that matter to the journey you’re on. The rest is noise.”

For months, tag line at group events was literally, “I write stuff.” It didn’t do me any good because it was too general – like target practice where anything that hits the target at all gets the same number of points. Success in freelancing means figuring out who exactly needs you, where exactly those exact people hang out, and go talk to them. It’s not enough to know where the target is, targeting is about know where the bull’s eye is -and hitting it! I knew I wasn’t focused enough when someone I knew needed my help smiled and nodded as I spoke and then went to shake someone else’s hand. Speaking of networking…

6) Not all networking activities are created equally. Free ones attract “name only” entrepreneurs and boot-strappers with no budget. Not a bad place to start if you just want to sanity check your ideas or are O.K. with trading services, but not the best for top-paying gigs.

I found low-cost luncheon-style networking groups more useeful, but even better is attending events, expos, conferences—even malls and fast food restaurants—where my ideal client would naturally spend time. I got so good at networking that I finally stopped trying to resist the fact that everyone I met loved me but wished I were doing something else. Because…

7) Just because you can write one thing well doesn’t mean you can write anything else. Of all these points, this is the one that helped me realize at last that I have no future in freelancing. I started off as a published author who didn’t have the skills needed to market her book, so I tried to break into …content and copy writing? Yeah, I know, hind sight 20/20.

My husband writes astounding blog posts, sales letters, white papers, ebooks, and email copy fit to be framed, but not me. Not anymore! This was the biggest lesson for me: I am a writer, but I am not a freelance writer.

Looking back on the last 3 years, I feel some relief mixed in with the hurt feelings and torn fairy tale pages.

I don’t have to chase half-baked clients anymore. I don’t have to fight SEO-charged super-gurus for air time and Inbox space. I can be done juggling my family with my under-committed prospects, disrespectful clients, inconsistent workflow, and insufficient funds. Best of all, I can be done putting my real dreams on the shelf to make room for something that should pay off sooner.

So, what will I do now? I’m already doing it! This blog, public speaking, and one-on-one breakthrough coaching are where my heart really is, and feel so blessed to be able to share what comes next with you!

Thank you for staying with me on this crazy journey so we can continue to learn from each other.

Have you ever been dumped by life?  What did you learn?

 

One Thing Every Woman Can Give Herself for Mother’s Day

http://playbuzz.com

The amazing thing about Mommy Guilt is that women don’t even need children in order to experience it.

There are single women who feel guilty for not getting married so they could have children.

Single women who feel guilty for having children before getting married.

Women who feel guilty for choosing abortion.

Women who feel guilty for getting into a situation where placing their child in an adoptive family was the best choice.

Women who feel guilty for getting a divorce before they could have children.

Women feel guilty because their bodies don’t make babies, or don’t keep pregnancies to term, no matter how badly they want children.

Women who feel guilty for not wanting children at all.

Add to that the guilt women harbor about not parenting right, standing by her man too long or leaving too soon, working at a job too much or not enough, resenting a child for their disability or bad behavior, allowing bad things to happen to them, or doing bad things themselves. Women who have lost children to addiction, crime, prison, disease, or death may have the worst time of all.

Every woman I know has experienced Mommy Guilt in some form at some time or other. So what is the difference between the women who will greet “Happy Mother’s Day!” with a smile and those who will respond to well-wishers with an uncomfortable huff?

Forgiveness.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not always proud of my mothering. Each of my children has had to suffer in some degree from having a far-from-perfect mother. My oldest daughter in particular really pushed me to my limits. I remember screaming over her screams, punching the wall until I hurt my wrist, and leaving her to cry herself to sleep for hours because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I remember sobbing in my kitchen, wondering if I should call the State on myself so they could find a better home for my children.

I won’t say I’m not proud of those days, and I won’t pretend I don’t have days like that anymore.

But I will say that the forgiveness is the difference between where I was then and where I am now.

Forgiveness doesn’t excuse bad behavior or take the pain away, but it does create a space for healing.

It’s tricky though, because in a world where self-deprecation looks like humility, holding grudges against ourselves seems almost noble. But in reality, it’s a cop-out: When we refuse to forgive, we choose to punish ourselves for a wrong choice rather than making it better. Beating ourselves up about the past may give the illusion of repentance, but really it just makes us feel like a helpless victim, rather than the powerful beings capable of change we really are. The longer we stay in the past, simmering in our own shame, the longer those we actually hurt have to live with our worst selves. Forgiveness opens the door to the future and paves the road to making wrongs right and writing a happier ending to our family’s story.

Forgiveness gave me the space I needed to see my astronomically loud and endlessly energetic daughter as a child suffering from pain she couldn’t describe and fear I didn’t comprehend. From that space, I could see that she didn’t need a mother too ashamed of her failure to control the beast to be seen with her in public—she needed a mother willing to hug her while she screamed and bring her to professionals who could help identify her issues so she could feel better. She needed my unconditional love to feel safe and cared for in her world. I still mourn the loss of the time I wasted fighting her, but grief motivates me to do what it takes to make our future brighter than our past.

Grief hurts, but only because it’s part of healing.

This Mother’s Day, rather than reliving every stupid thing we’ve ever said or done, pining over what might have been, and deflecting every well-wisher with self-deprecating comments, let’s choose the higher way. Let’s give ourselves forgiveness for Mother’s Day, and open the door to a brighter future for us and the ones we love.

Who’s with me?

The Heart of the Matter

I’ve been trying to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But everything changes
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about …

Everything we have worked on and worked through so far has brought us to this.

And when I say “we” I don’t mean you all plus me in an arbitrary because-“we”-sounds-better-than-“you” kind of way. I really mean all of us together.

When we started this course together, I thought I was offering a more practical and accessible alternative to energy healing. While that may still be true, I realized as we went along that it was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

I have a deeper message to share.

It’s the message I’ve been digging for inside myself for years.

It was the underlying invitation in my most popular blog post ever.

I believe it’s even the reason you were drawn to take this course, even though I didn’t know what it was when I invited you to join.

After years of asking the question, “Why are people drawn to me? What can I share that will help them?” I’ve finally found “the Heart of the Matter.”

I’ve been trying to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But everything changes
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore
– Don Henley

Forgiveness! Of course!

I’ve known for a long time, through personal experience, that forgiveness is the key to all healing. Whether I need to forgive another person, myself, or God, I have to forgive before I can recover from the hurt I experience. We’ve all heard the story of how Jesus instructed His apostle to forgive not seven times but seventy times seven (Matt. 18:21-22), and instructed all his followers to “pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:43-45). You may have also heard the analogy that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Of course I know that’s all easier understood conceptually than done.

However, I also know that, while it’s tempting to look for an easier way, forgiveness is the easiest way to peace. And it’s easier than you think:

In sixth grade, I lost my locket.

My favorite teacher, back in rural New York State where I grew up, had given that locket to me before I moved to a forsaken desert in Texas, where my highest aim was to be invisible from the time I arrived at school to the time I boarded the school bus home. I wore my locket every day, even to gym class—easily my least favorite part of the day—to keep me company and remind me of the people who loved me back home. One day, after running laps in the hot Texas sun, I looked down and saw that it was gone. In a panic, I retraced every inch of the track, reported my lost item to the main office, and even convinced the morning announcement team to alert the entire school, but lost it stayed.

Until one day.

I was walking in the halls between classes, being invisible, when I saw the locket part of the pendent pinned to the back of the backpack in front of me. Overjoyed and thinking fast, I told the owner that I lost a beautiful locket just like hers and asked her where she got it, hoping she’d tell me she found it outside so I could ask her to return my lost friend to me. But she just smiled and said her grandmother gave it to her.

Confused and deflated, I let her walk away.

Over the course of the next year, this girl became my enemy. Some days I tracked her from a distance to see if she still had it on her backpack. Other times I avoided her and tried not to make eye contact. Once I ventured to casually ask again where she got it, and this time she said her boyfriend gave it to her. Ha! She changed her story! I knew it was mine! Ultimately she caught on to my animosity, and started to return it.

Of course every sighting and interaction had to be reported to my mother in second-by-second detail. My wise mother always advised me to forgive her and let it go. At first this bothered me—How could I just let her keep my locket!—but I finally realized that my quest for justice was turning me into a monster. At long last, I resolved to forgive her, and tell her so.

I find my 13-year-old confidence that life would go as I scripted it almost comical now.

When I tried to talk to her privately, she guessed the worst and tried to escape. I literally chased her into the girl’s room, where she shut herself in a stall and stood up on a toilet. Hardly the ideal ambient for a heart-to-heart conversation, I cut to the chase. “I forgive you!” I said to the closed door. The words echoed off the walls of the restroom, and I felt like I could see the white, open sky above me. Then her voice, straining to sound stubborn and confident returned, “I forgive you, too.”

Without another word, I walked out and returned to class.

The End.

We didn’t become best friends.

We didn’t meet decades later and share pictures of our children.

I didn’t get my locket back.

But I got something better: my freedom.

Forgiveness leads to healing, progress, and true freedom

What has forgiveness done for you? Please share your experience in the comments!

Repost: My Resolution to “Let It Go” in 2014

This post, composed in January of 2014, is where Change Your Music really began. If it resonates with you, I invite you to share it with someone you think would appreciate it too, and invite them to subscribe to my blog. Enjoy!

When I first heard the song “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen, something really resonated with me. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first.

I was invigorated by Elsa’s passion, which grew little by little along with the volume of her voice, until she was literally shouting at the top of her lungs.

I could also relate to her sense that people were telling her, “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know,” and wondered where that sense comes from. Everyone I know has felt pressure to “conceal, don’t feel,” but I don’t think anyone could, if they really thought about it, name a person who actually uttered those words in their presence. I’ll return to that idea in a moment.

I used to put real effort into trying to be who I thought people wanted me to be. I remember one time as a young woman I put on a deep, adult voice when I auditioned for a choral group, then felt sad when I made it in because I didn’t know whether they would have let me in if I sang like myself. I always resented it a little when people told me what a good person I was, because I thought that if they really knew me, they wouldn’t be so sure.

In 2013, I worked hard to get away from living like that – always trying to meet the standard I imagined others had set for me, rather than keeping my goals and God’s plan for me in proper perspective.

I am really intense and care deeply about everything I care about, but I always do my best to communicate in ways that conveyed a non-judgmental and supportive spirit. Considering this, I felt it was fair to work on sharing my thoughts courteously, when I felt the time was right, and when there was a potential to help someone with what I knew. I began to do this without apologizing for feeling the way I felt or pressuring them to adopt my philosophies.

I also stopped stressing so much about what visitors would think about the condition of my house. Instead, I focused my energy on making the best of the time resources I had, balancing my efforts between housekeeping and child-rearing in a way that made sense for me.

Then I realized that I didn’t lose any friends by being myself.

I was surprised when friends who seemed to always come over when my house was the messiest kept coming back to visit. I was puzzled when a woman I accidentally hurt still offered to help with my children as she had before my thoughtless mistake. I was delighted when friends invited me to bring my children to play with theirs so I could write my book, Crystal Puzzle, and prepare it for publication.

I was intrigued to see how letting go of my obsession with appearing to be better at life than I actually was opened my eyes. Moving my focus away from the mundane details of my life allowed me to see that my friends were even bigger and more charitable people than I had previously given them credit for.

So the line, “Well, now they know,” really did something to me.

As I pondered experiences in 2013, I also realized why “Let It Go” bugs me a little. After Elsa builds her ice castle and creates herself a new flashy dress, she boldly proclaims, “the perfect girl is gone!”

It seems that in our society these days, people see perfection as either an unattainable goal or an unworthy one.

Those who want to be good are sure others see them as not good enough, and torture themselves with their guesses of how “people” think of their mortal foibles and quirks.

Those who do not want to be good see “nobody’s perfect” as the excellent catch-all excuse for lazy living and bad behavior.

I think the devil is behind both lies.

The devil wants good people to find misery in doing good. He smiles as we agonize over whether our efforts to make a difference really matter, or whether the gifts we give will be received the way they are intended. He points out all our flaws, and taunts that if we just had better self-control, we could be flawless – perfect. He whispers, “Conceal, don’t feel,” and when we look to see where the voice came from, he blames the “people” around us for pronouncing the words.

At the same time, he wants lazy people to find comfort in doing bad, or not doing good, rocking us back and forth in the false security of platitudes such as “Nobody’s perfect,” “I’m my own person,” “I don’t care what other people think,” and “You gotta do what you gotta do,” like waves of the sea. In time, these phrases become great big red ejector seat buttons we can push every time guilt for misdeeds or hopes of greatness sneak into the cockpit of our lives.

“The perfect girl is gone” moment could be a wonderful moment. It could mean that a good person has decided to do what she knows is right no matter who says it is foolish or even impossible. It could mean that a good person no longer worries about looking just right, or wearing the most socially acceptable outfit for a given occasion. It could mean that a good person has refused to continue measuring every step and word against her perception of how those around her will receive them.

My concern is that it could also mean that a person who had been trying to be good has finally decided she will never arrive at perfection and that it is therefore no longer worth the effort to pursue that end.

Brad Wilcox, an ecclesiastical leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, compares the effort involved in seeking perfection to a child learning to play the piano:

“’But don’t you realize how hard it is to practice? I’m just not very good at the piano. I hit a lot of wrong notes. It takes me forever to get it right.’ Now wait. Isn’t that all part of the learning process? When a young pianist hits a wrong note, we don’t say he is not worthy to keep practicing. We don’t expect him to be flawless. We just expect him to keep trying. Perfection may be his ultimate goal, but for now we can be content with progress in the right direction. …

There should never me just two options: perfection or giving up. When learning the piano, are the only options performing Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives. … (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).” From a devotional address given at Brigham Young University on July 12, 2011. For the full address, visit speeches.byu.edu.

The part of Elsa’s song that wasn’t true for her, is that “the fear that once controlled me can’t get to me at all.” Her excitement only masked it. That fear followed her all the way up that mountain, and continued to control her for most of the rest of the film.

Before everyone found out what she was capable of, she was afraid that she would not be accepted if they found out, and that she might hurt somebody. Once they found out, she ran away and stayed away because she was afraid she would not be accepted, and that she might hurt somebody.

Her enemy – your enemy and my enemy – was not perfection, expectations, unreasonable standards, or even anger.

It was fear.

By the end of this inspiring song, Elsa had let go of her queenly wardrobe, her crown, her family, her place in the kingdom, her responsibility to rule, her potential influence on others, and her formerly-held anxiety toward both unleashing her freezing powers and striking out on her own.

But she was still afraid.

She seemed happier, at first, but she was still afraid. And it wasn’t until her fear was defeated that peace returned to the kingdom.

Last year was a difficult journey, and I learned to let go of many important things through my struggles:

1) I let go of negative body thinking and talking. Or, in other words, I let go of my fear of not measuring up to the impossible standard of perfection the media holds women to.

2) I let go of the grief and fear I associated with the birth of my oldest child. Or, in other words, I faced the fact that each time I remembered it I felt afraid that I was helpless against the possibility that it might happen the same way again, and learned instead to prepare myself and turn the rest over to the Lord.

3) I let go of blaming others for my mistakes. Or, in other words, I let go of the fear of looking my weakness in the face and admitting I need a Savior to help me improve and grow.

4) I let go of my obsession with failure. Or, in other words, I faced my fear of succeeding.

In preparation for this post, and in the spirit of spring cleaning, I listed the things I wanted to “let go” of in 2014:

1) Clothing I don’t love to wear

2) Negative thoughts about my appearance

3) Harmful foods

4) Negative words describing my ability

5) Candy books

6) Candy toys

7) Unhealthy music

8) Fear of disapproval

9) Fear of success

Then I realized when I got to #10 that there was really only one thing, the umbrella that covered all the others:

10) Selfishness

Finally, as I composed this post, I realized that selfishness is really fear – fear of placing God’s will ahead of my own – fear that maybe, if I don’t look out for myself, at least a little bit, that He might not catch me when I fall.

If I want to do the impossible, which I do, then I need to perfect my faith in Him; His power, His timing, His plan for me and my family, His might to save.

So now I only have one resolution: Let go of fear.

Won’t you join me?

Who could we be and what could we do for ourselves, our siblings, and the world if you and I truly were not afraid of anything?

I am excited to see.

New Agency Training Course Starts Monday!

For many years now, I’ve been intimately involved and interested in the world of adults (most often women) struggling with mental or physical ailments resulting from childhood trauma. I find that they often struggle in romantic relationships and in their relationship with God – tragically, they often painfully feel unworthy to pray, and accused by scriptures and Conference talks. Some consider some form of energy healing, but many are (or have spouses who are) skeptical of pursuing solutions from that medium, while others they give it an honest try but for some reason it doesn’t work out. Having struggled myself over the years with anxiety, unhealthy relationship with food, and other things, I’ve longed to be able to reach out and help in a meaningful way, but haven’t felt qualified or ready until now.

Now I feel like I finally have something to offer: “Agency Training” is a six-week, step-by-step program that uses principles of mindfulness, intentionality, connection with the divine, affirmation, and journaling to help work through past and present issues, talk back to the negative voices in our heads and in our lives, and increase confidence and connection in a way that sticks over the long term. The process will be gentle enough that even the smallest children can work through along with their parent(s), without diluting the power it can bring to the adults working through it.

Today and tomorrow I am offering the ecourse version of Agency Training free to the first 20 people who are willing to sign up and give it a shot, in exchange for your helpful feedback. I say 20 because, while I wish I could serve everyone, I couldn’t give a larger group the individual attention you deserve. Students can go through the whole thing with me, and then I can implement your feedback to make it even better. As an extra thank-you, you’ll be given access to the updated content in future iterations for no extra charge.

I’m really excited and hope many of you will join me in this exciting journey. If you are interested or have questions, please ask in the comments so everyone can see the answers, or of course message me if it’s more personal and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

If the idea of “Agency Training” resonates with you, hop over and sign up because registration will close Midnight MDT this coming Sunday, March 20th or at 20 students, whichever comes first. This isn’t just some silly scarcity tactic, I just want to begin right away so I don’t lose steam! The first lesson/challenge first thing Monday morning

I’m so excited!

Oh, and feel free to share this with anyone you know who might be interested—everyone is welcome, but people who believe in God are most likely to feel comfortable with the material I will share.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end! Y’all are awesome!

Always Question “What the Heart Wants.”

Y’all, we’ve got a problem.

Some people say I think too much about these things, but I’m afraid there aren’t enough people thinking about it at all.

But before I jump onto that soap box, let me back up a minute and show you what I mean.

Not too long ago, I was driving and skipping around between radio stations looking for a song worth listening to. I found a new song with a musical style that appealed to me.  As I turned up the volume and tuned my ears in to the lyrics, I was terribly distressed by what I heard:

… I’m not alive until you call
And I’ll bet the odds against it all
Save your advice ’cause I won’t hear
You might be right but I don’t care
There’s a million reasons why I should give you up
But the heart wants what it wants.

All the mental bells that go off when I sense emotional abuse and relational violence started ringing so loud I could hardly listen to the rest of the song. I longed to find something in the story around the chorus that could redeem it—something that offered hope that this woman would be able to muster the courage to pull herself out of a clearly bad situation—but the verses were even more desperate and hopeless than the refrain.

Deep in my gut I cried for all of the girls and women—and boys and men—who might identify with this song and sing it in their hearts as they justified staying in an unhealthy relationship because “the heart wants what it wants.” (Imagine my surprise when I looked it up later and learned that this Selena Gomez song is supposedly a break-up song!)

Which brings us back to our problem.

The world has always been a world of voices. Each voice has an opinion, and it falls to each of us to find and hold tight to the basic truths we want to build our lives around, and sort out the voices based on that internal compass. As we strive to do this, we quickly find that some of the voices around us want to help us, and others seek to hurt us. Some speak the truth, and others lie outright, but the really tricky voices hide the untruth they want us to consider in a statement that sounds like it should be true.

One of those tricky half-truths is the counsel, “Follow your heart.”

This encouragement is offered as sage advice in popular music, movies, and by well-meaning friends, family members, and strangers alike. It’s often offered as a magic wand that makes everything hard about making a choice or making a relationship work disappear.

The trouble comes when this catch-all counsel is taken to unhealthy extremes.

It doesn’t take much flipping through radio stations to find specific examples:

“It ain’t the mind that calls the shots ‘round here. A stronger power pulls to bodies near. Nothing on earth can interfere when love is what the heart wants.” from What the Heart Wants by Collin Raye

“It feels so good it can’t be wrong,” from One Night at a Time by George Strait

“Live it fast but live the life you choose…Follow your heart…Living for today, forget about tomorrow,” from Follow Your Heart by Triumph

What the voices who want to help mean to say is: “Deep down inside, you already know what the right thing to do is, so you should scrounge up whatever courage you need and do it.”

So why don’t we just say that?

I love songs where the characters in the story recognize that they’re feeling something powerful and consciously choose what to do about it. For example:

I must admit it’s been fun
But that’s no reason to jump the gun
If this is real time will tell
So let me bite my tongue and remind myself

(from Reba McEntire’s The Fear of Being Alone)

and

I know that if we give this a little time
It’ll only bring us closer to the love we wanna find
Just a shot in the dark that you just might
Be the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life
So baby I’m alright, with just a kiss goodnight

(From Lady Antebellum’s Just a Kiss)

With all this in mind, I have an invitation for you.

While you’re listening to the voices around you and deciding which ones ring true in your life, consider this:

Do listen to your heart; just take the time to listen to what it’s saying before you decide to go where it’s going!

And let me know what you think in the comments!

What do you think? What experiences have you had following or not following your heart? Are there any songs on this topic I should add as classic good or bad examples? Share with us, and let your voice be heard! 🙂