Why "Follow your heart" is the most complex advice ever?


Paridhi Laddha

Psychology Associate

During my High school graduation, our school organized a talk for us and invited a Life coach to motivate all us butterflies in the making, eager to enter the big world and spread our wings.

At the end of the talk, I was eager to ask my question and for her to share her wisdom with me.

"Hello, thank you so much for being with us today! As a school senior trying to figure out what to do next, I was wondering if you have any words of advice for me and other people in my shoes?" I asked her

"Follow your heart." – she said.

I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't disappointed by her answer. "Follow your heart???" was a "hackneyed old saying", and I felt like my next-door neighbor could've told me that. There was definitely a feeling of, "Tell me something I don't know." I was expecting a lot more, especially from her.

In hindsight, those three words were packed with complexities, and though seemingly simple, people have trouble following through. Why is that?

No matter how fancy (and cliché) this advice is – sometimes we don't even know what our heart wants. It wants weird things. Fairly, this life is dynamic and just like life, our hearts are also fickle.

"I want the chocolate ice cream and strawberry ice cream – can I have both? Maybe yes, but then my heart fancies being a monk and a DJ? Can I be both? Perhaps No.

As simple as this advice is, it comes with its own set of twists and turns. These three words seem easy but frankly even more complex than the universally complex three words 'I love you'.

"Follow your heart" BUT HOW? How to really determine what our heart truly wants?

Based on my own experiences and what I've seen in others, the prime reason is that despite knowing what we genuinely want, we let our insecurities get in the way. When fear arises, our mind, which has evolved to protect us from any sort of perceived danger, jumps into high gear, drowning out the inner voice that comes from our heart, and rationalizes taking a different path. For most of us, we abandon our dreams and end up following a path of "certainty"—one that usually comes with some sort of stability.

Years later when I reflect on this age-old advice, I'd like to share some steps that you can take to make it easier for you to follow your heart because I did end up following my heart every step of the way. It wasn’t the easiest thing but was undoubtedly the best thing. I truly thank that coach now, she gave me the advice that I just needed at that moment. Based on my experience, I'd like to share some steps that you can take to make it easier for you to follow your heart.

Let me help you decipher this advice in simple terms.

1. Determine your values

When you know what your values are, any time you make a decision, you'll know it's the right one if it aligns with your values. Take a moment to reflect on the following questions:

What are some values that are important to you? Here is the list of personal core values.

How can you incorporate your values into your day-to-day life?

Your values reflect what is important to you so firstly figure out your strong values. You can also take an online test to help you out. The Personal Values Assessment is a short survey that will help you determine your values and give you direction. Once you have identified your 5 core values, try to incorporate them into your life.

For example; one of my core values is personal growth. I make it a point to ensure that learning and growth never stops. Physically, spiritually and mentally, I try to take up activities that will help me explore and grow in these aspects.

Who you are, what you hold dear, what upsets you, and what underlies your decisions, are all connected to your personal values.

2. Grab all opportunities.

There have been times when I've been scared to take upon new opportunities. In those situations, in deciding what to do, my guiding question was, "Which decision will allow me to grow?"

I have always had fear about leaving my home and going away from family but a few years back I took that decision and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever took. It helped me know my strengths and weaknesses, changed my perspectives about various things in life, and of course, gave me the strength to take bigger decisions. It instilled in me the courage to someday buy a one-way ticket to the US for further studies, which was a far-off thought before buying that ticket to Pune.

Only when we fight our fear, we become wise enough to decide if we truly want something.

The bottom line is, you never know what something has to offer unless you try it out. Next time an opportunity comes knocking on your door, welcome it in!

3. Ask yourself if it will make you happy

Some questions you should ask yourself before taking

big decisions are

"Will I enjoy doing this for the rest of my life?"

“ Am I doing this for myself or for others?”

“Does it fuel my soul?’

“Will this be a reason for me to wake up every day?”

If it is something unconventional, ask yourself will this thing feed me enough to live without the conventional wonders? For instance, if you want to take up wildlife photography, give yourself some time to think about it first- just like Farhan in '3 Idiots' - "will you be able to live without a big car or air conditioner if all your friends have one?"

Honestly, it's easy to determine "Oh, I love this thing" but we fail to consider other things that come with that decision. When we say "I love this", let's pause for a moment to define what love is – Love is not always rainbows and butterflies, it's not always the things you like doing, love is choosing things even with all the detriments that come with it.

Case alert- I am pursuing my specialization in psychology and during my observership, when I watch my therapist see her client, I see her, I get goosebumps and my eyes are filled with tears (happy ones of course) because it's my deepest passion and I can't wait to do it for the rest of my life. That feeling is to live for and no matter how many repercussions this has in store for me, I can take it all, with all of my heart.

My relationship with psychology is not always "oh wow it's so interesting" it is not fancy as it seems. There are days it gets super overwhelming, there are days it makes me question too many things in life but even then, I still want to pursue it - that is true passion and love and undoubtedly that is what my heart truly wants.

4. Pursue your interests and take them step-by-step.

Maybe you're considering taking that dance class? Perhaps you're not sure because you don't consider yourself a dancer and are worried that everyone else in the class will be better than you. Ignore the voice of judgment and follow your intuition—sign up for that class!

It's easy to feel discouraged when we look at other people around us who are fifty steps ahead of us at the thing that we're interested in pursuing and think, "Why bother?" However, the reality is that everyone starts somewhere. If you don't start today, time will pass anyway and a year from now, you'll be exactly where you are today if you don't try.

The more steps you take toward what speaks to you, the more likely they'll add up and lay the path for you to follow your calling.

"Follow your heart" is a short and simple phrase, yet it may seem like a tall order for many.

5. Define what it means to follow your heart

Ultimately, following your heart is an intangible process based more on emotion than something you can quantify but, you have to define for yourself what it means to follow your heart. This way you can track your progress towards the goals you set which are associated with following your heart.

Take the time to map out a plan and tap into what you're feeling now to create a vision zifcare.com for the future that is true to who you are. Think about who you want to be, where you want to go, and what you would do if money weren't an issue. With a plan such as this, you'll place the chips in your favor and give yourself a clear path to follow. This is invaluable.

Following your heart isn't easy and anyone who tries to tell you it is hasn't done it long enough. You'll encounter challenges along the way, but one thing is for certain, if you want to realize a deeply fulfilling and joy-filled life then you must decide to be true to yourself and follow your heart with a sense of urgency.

View more content by Paridhi Laddha

Discussion Board

Do you think "follow your heart" is a good advice to stick by? Tell us your favorite memory in life when you followed your heart?

Thanks a ton Paridhi for giving a step-wise approach to folloing one's heart. most people talk about it but very few can define it clearly as you have done ☀️
Bharani Boss Boss