when you have to close your heart. . .

heart23I have always been a compassionate person, but, as I have gotten older, I have been even more inclined to demonstrate caring and love towards those around me. Perhaps, my mother’s battle with advanced stage cancer over two years ago has had something to do with my desire to truly be a loyal and supportive friend to the people in my life. When something of that nature comes about, you are reminded of the brevity of life. . .and you also realize how important it is to make sure that the people whom you love know that you love them. Saying the words “I love you” becomes twice as important—hugging people and making sure that you never make them feel as if you have forgotten them seems essential. What is difficult, however, is knowing when the time comes that you must not let your compassion for others prevent you from making the choices that are best for you.

As you know, my blog posts are loaded with examples from my own life experiences. Sometimes, I feel as if I’m putting into words a documentary of the Success Diva’s life. It isn’t always easy to open up my heart to those who are reading these posts, particularly since there are so many of you whom I do not know and probably never will know. Yet it is my choice to come from a very personal place, even if that place is full of pain, heartache, and unhappiness. Remember what I said in my last post about the heart being like your inner sanctuary? Well, that’s what it’s like. Pretend that you have a little church or cottage within yourself and that there are gates around this place. Whom you open the gates to is your decision and no one can force you to open those gates if you choose not to. But when someone has managed to persuade you to open your heart to them, and then they end up mistreating you or betraying you, what do you do? Well, you close those gates in their face, of course, and never look back. However, that is easier to suggest than it actually is to do. The person whom I just discovered has betrayed me has tried to offer an explanation for his conduct now. He has told me that he didn’t mean the mean and cruel things that he said about me behind my back. Well, being the compassionate diva that I am, it would not be impossible for me to keep him in my life as a friend. When we think of certain books we have read or movies we have seen, we can probably recall cases in which someone forgave and accepted the person who betrayed them. One book that comes to my mind without having to give it an abundance of thought is Russian author Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel, Anna Karenina. In this story, Anna, the title character, is unfaithful to her husband. She has a passionate affair with the dashing Count Vronsky. Her affair soon ostracizes her from society, and her husband becomes aware of her disloyalty. However, he chooses to forgive her and even offers her a divorce so that she can marry her lover. Unfortunately, Anna makes a series of unwise decisions, ultimately resulting in her eventual suicide. This book has been immortalized a few times in films, and, even if you haven’t read the book or seen the film, you may well have heard references to it in other books or movies. Yet another example of betrayal is in the consummate novel by the American author, Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence. In this story, a man, Newland Archer, marries an innocent young lady from a good background, only to be drawn into a beguiling infatuation with the exotic Countess Olenska, who lives on the fringes of society because of scandalous behavior. Archer’s wife, May Welland, knows that her husband’s affections reside elsewhere, and, yet, throughout a marriage that lasts several decades, she never once indicates that she suspects the truth. Finally, towards the end of the book, after his wife’s death, Newland finds out that what he thought was a secret that only he and Countess Olenska shared was known by his wife from the very beginning.

So, if characters in books and movies can not only forgive such instances of betrayal but also keep the person who betrayed them in in their lives, how can we know when we should refuse to accept any excuses or explanations?? Well, this is a difficult point to address as each situation is obviously different. However, if we are talking about someone whom we are in a committed relationship with who continues to be unfaithful to us, I would have to say that choosing to end that relationship is the decision that is in your best interest. But, if we’re speaking of instances of betrayal that are. . .well, less significant, the line between forgiveness and actual acceptance can become a wee bit hazy. For me, betrayal is unacceptable in all its forms. I truly do expect loyalty from those whom I let into my life. Whether or not you do is exclusively your choice. At the same time, never think that you have to have someone in your life. I don’t care how dependent you think you are on someone—or how dependent they make you feel you are on them. Should a person whom you have trusted and cared about betray you in any way, you are always perfectly justified in cutting that person out of  your life. If we look at our circle of friends as a large round of cheese, any treachery on the part of one of our friends would be like a portion of that cheese that became corroded with mold. Would you let that portion of cheese stay where it is. . .or would you cut it off? I know you wouldn’t eat the moldy cheese. Well, when you keep a traitor in your life, you are essentially serving slices of mildewed cheese to yourself on a cracker or a piece of bread. How does that make you feel? It sounds rather disgusting, doesn’t it? You probably feel like saying, “Yuck. I would never eat cheese with mildew all over it. . .and I don’t see how continuing to keep someone in my life who has betrayed me is like eating rotten cheese.” Oh, but it is like that. Just as your body is precious and requires certain types of food to nourish it, your heart and soul also require certain things to remain well nourished. One of the things your heart and soul both need is loyalty. Another essential need is unconditional love and acceptance. If someone betrays you, even if they say they love you, the type of love they are capable of giving you is not worth very much. Never imagine when you are betrayed that you are at fault. I mention this because I have noticed there is a tendency to blame ourselves when someone we care about mistreats us. Yet, we have the choice not to blame ourselves. We can make sure we look at the situation with a clear-headed and analytical vantage point. We can say, “The person who hurt me is the one with the problem—not me.” Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of this, particularly if we tend to be too benevolent or generous. I must admit, I have to consistently strive to make sure that I don’t allow myself to feel guilt over someone else’s mistreatment of me. Why? Well, I always think that if I had done or said something differently, they would not have betrayed me, lied to me, or treated me cruelly. In a way, this is what is called “if only” thinking.  I’ll speak about this more in future posts, but I must at least caution you now: the “if only” mind-set is dangerous. It’s the sort of mind-set that people have who are eighty years old and have chosen to let all sorts of opportunities pass by them over the course of their lives. It reminds me of my grandmother, who chose to marry a man other than her great love. She can now look back over her shoulder and say, “If only I had married so-and-so instead.” As hard as it sometimes is, we have to accept the decisions we make once we make them. If we use poor judgment, we must profit by this and use better judgment next time. I tend to poke fun at myself, saying that it’s unlikely I will ever use better judgment, when I rarely use good judgment *wink*. Yes, I am a diva who rarely takes herself very seriously. And, in a way, it’s a wonderful way to live because you don’t let yourself get too overwhelmed by those things which are relatively insignificant. If I ever am dramatic, I can assure you that  something major has happened in my life as I am generally a pretty level-headed lady. I won’t say that I can’t be capricious and even volatile at times, for I am a spirited diva, too. But, I think it’s essential for us to all be able to laugh at ourselves. If we let ourselves cry and castigate ourselves for every dish we break or every purchase we make that we didn’t really need, we’ll end up feeling rather worthless. I think that we tend to forget, too, that the only way we will ever feel truly worthwhile is a person is if we have a strong sense of self-worth. This is the complete opposite of conceit or arrogance. Conceit or arrogance is a state of mind in which a person believes that they are superior to another person—or, to people, in general. A strong sense of self-worth, on the other hand, is a state of mind in which you understand that you have something unique and valuable to contribute to the world and to the lives of those around you. It is when you begin to embrace yourself, flaws and all. A friend of mine asked me recently, “How do you love yourself?” Well, I think it begins with creating a deep and dynamic sense of self-worth. It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you have made or even keep making, for if you learn something from each one, you are succeeding. You must guard your heart, though, and make sure that the people in your life do not have a negative effect upon your well-being. Although Eleanor Roosevelt said “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent”, I still think that as long as we keep toxic people and predators of the heart in our lives, we’ll never feel as valuable as we should. Even when they tell us how wonderful they think we are, we shouldn’t believe them. As I said, predators of the heart will tell you anything they think you may need to hear in order to keep controlling your life. Although they may not always tell you what you want to hear, if they sense that you are slipping out of their nefarious clutches, they’re capable of saying the most beautiful and flattering words.  After all, they must seduce their way into your heart. . .and seduction is an art in which many tactics are used. So, when you begin to hear exquisite phrases from someone whom you don’t entirely trust, be very careful. Even though you don’t think it is doing you any harm to listen to them, sooner or later you may notice that you become addicted to their flattery.

Since the main subject of this post has to do with when you should not let someone who has hurt you remain in your life, I want to make a few more points about that. There are several different kinds of wounds that others can inflict upon us. Some of them are unintentional, and some of them aren’t. Betrayal, by its very nature, is intentional. The cases in which betrayal is unintentional are very rare. We all know that, if we say things that were confided to us by a friend in private, and we broadcast these things to other people, that we are betraying our friend. Right? Did we know we were doing something we shouldn’t do? Of course, we did. This being said, we can safely assume that if someone does this to us, they were fully aware of what they were doing. Also, if a man or woman who is a friend goes out of their way to pursue a friendship or relationship with someone who has mistreated us, we can feel pretty certain that they realize they are betraying us. I do think it’s crucial to forgive those who hurt us, even if they hurt us in some way that seems unforgivable to us. To forgive is something we do not for the person or persons who hurt us, but rather for ourselves. However, keeping the person or persons who hurt us in our lives is something else entirely. It is accepting what they have done—not merely forgiving it. And I do not think that accepting mistreatment of any kind can benefit us. Thus, your diva’s final word on this subject is this: if someone hurts you unintentionally, keeping them in your lives might not be an unwise choice. However, if someone hurts you intentionally, you should carefully examine whether that person deserves to be in your life because only those whom we can trust are worthy of our friendship, our love, or our affection.

Thanks to those who have told me how much my last post on predators of the heart meant to them! It always inspires this diva so much when I feel that I have helped or encouraged someone. Please know that I will respond to any personal mail that I receive at successdiva7@yahoo.com And, if you aren’t already a member of my mailing list, consider joining. It’s free and lots of fun!

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Until next time, friends. . .live with passion and guard your heart! Remember: there are times in your life when you have to close your heart to someone, and you must always be willing to do so when it is necessary, no matter how difficult a decision it may be.

Your Success Diva

This page and all written material at The Success Diva pages is written by Alexis Wingate.  All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva

It’s your heart. So, guard it!

heart13There will never be a way to prevent ourselves from being hurt by other people. Even if we were able to look inside the hearts and minds of everyone around us, we would probably still fall into predicaments that brought us misery. At the same time, in order to make a toxic person really have the effect they want to upon us, we must dwell on all the ways in which they have hurt us. We must allow them to continue to steal our joy and happiness from us long after the wounds have been inflicted, which means that if we let go and refuse to hold onto the pain, we are the ones who win—not them.

As you know, I am very forthcoming at this blog. I share things that some people might not even reveal to their closest friends. Do I care? Actually, if I can reach even one of you by something I say, I regret none of my personal confessions. But you do have to watch who you open your heart to. Look upon the heart as a beautiful sanctuary within yourself. There are two doors closing this sanctuary off from the rest of the world. You can open them only if you decide to. If you are at a place in your life where you feel that you need the approval of other people to feel okay about yourself—that their acceptance of you is crucial to your happiness and positive opinion about yourself, you are at risk of being deeply hurt. There are what I would call predators of the heart, and they come in many different shapes and wear a variety of masks. They are almost like vampires, in a way. They prey upon your energy and your spirit to satisfy their inner emptiness. However, they are often convinced that their lives are bringing them fulfillment. Rarely will they admit to you that they are seeking something other than that which they’ve already got. To make you feel that you are necessary to them in some way would give some of the power they think they possess away. Now, if push comes to shove, and they are concerned that you may escape the designs they have on your life, they might be capable of saying anything. But they are generally reluctant to admit any signs of personal weakness.  When I think of a character in literature who is a predator of the heart, I cannot help but think of Miss Havisham in Charles Dickens’ classic novel, Great Expectations. She is not content to merely lick her wounds and drown her sorrow by living a reclusive life. Rather, she picks out another person as a vessel for her vendetta. If you haven’t read the book or seen a film adaptation of the book, you will not have a thorough idea of what I am speaking of. However, you can take my word for the fact that Miss Havisham is a true predator of the heart. In a way, she is a tragic and pathetic figure. It is nearly impossible not to feel sorry for all the pain she has experienced. Yet no pain that we experience justifies our preying upon the hearts of others.

As a diva who tends to speak whatever is on her mind, I want to share with all of you something that happened to me yesterday. I was betrayed by someone who had pretended to be my friend. Has this happened to me before? Yes, of course. It’s probably happened to most of you, too. I think that one reason this happens is because our society preaches a “me first/you second” philosophy. This means that, even if a person betrays someone close to them, if it’s in that person’s best interest at the time they do it, they somehow manage to excuse their conduct. Now, many cases of betrayal are connected to revenge. Rather than letting go of resentment and anger, a certain type of person holds it in until, at last, it boils over and they do something that hurts someone else in a way that can be devastating. Unfortunately, when bitterness, resentment, and/or anger begin to cloud someone’s vision, there is a strong chance that they will begin to perceive that they are being deceived or wronged in some way, even if they’re not.  In other words, they may at some point be incapable of thinking logically. Predators of the heart are often paranoid, too. They see those who do not allow them into their inner sanctuary as being against them. They may even have grandiose ideas about their relationship with someone whom they are trying to prey upon. They may see that person as belonging to them, even if the person doesn’t. The person who betrayed me felt he had the right to interject himself in many different aspects of my life. He was also jealous of anyone else whom I have in my life, including my mother. You see, he felt that anyone who was giving me advice or input aside from him might prevent him from having the all-powerful influence in my life that he felt he needed. When he finally saw that I was determined to remain in charge of my life and was willing to fight him for control of it, he betrayed me. He made sure I was aware of his betrayal, too. I think he concluded that only in my knowing about his betrayal would he receive any sort of personal gratification. How many of you believe, now that I am introducing you to the concept of predators of the heart, that you might have crossed paths with one of these persons? Might there even be one in your life right now? “Maybe so,” you say, “but how can I tell?” Notice how you feel when you spend time around someone whom you suspect is a predator of the heart. Do they find ways to make you feel that you are weak? Do they play up your faults in a way that is subtle? For example, might they say something like, “Well, you know, you have loads of flaws, but I love you anyway.” Does this sound familiar? You do see what they’re doing, don’t you? They’re wanting you to feel that you can’t really handle the big, bad problems in your life on your own. So. . .they are there to help you. All you have to do is wrap up your heart and hand it over to them first. Then they’ll take care of everything.  Pretty soon, of course, you’ll be wondering why the decisions you’re making don’t really match up with the decisions you want to make. You may also find yourself tolerating things that you never thought you would put up with. But, you see, your pet predator of the heart has convinced you that you will never find another friend or lover like them. So, you’d better let them drain all your own thoughts and opinions from you. If they want to start controlling your mind, you’d better let them do that, too. I mean, they’re probably smarter than you anyway. . .or at least wiser, right? They seem to know so much. They seem to have all the answers figured out, and, even though it seems like they are trying to take control of your life, surely all they’re really trying to do is help you. Right??? Wrong. Predators of the heart have no more compassion or empathy than the living dead. Never deceive yourself. A predator of the heart is never thinking of his prey as anything more than an object to nourish his or her desire to control. Your feelings and needs don’t count. Dracula never did seem to care much about the needs of his victims, did he? No, he cared only for satisfying his lust for blood. And he was very seductive, too, wasn’t he? He never told his victims, “Hello there, I’m a vampire. May I bite your neck and drink your blood?” If he had done that, how believable would it have been? Well, like a vampire who beguiles his victims, preying upon the hearts of others begins with seduction. For you to be willing to open up your heart, you must first be under the predator’s “spell”. For me to say that a predator of the heart has a standard method of worming his or her way in to your life would be giving you the false idea that you might be able to pick out a predator of the heart readily. You will rarely be able to do that. What you must do, though, is immediately pay attention to any feelings you have of wanting to distance yourself from the person. If you ignore them when you feel them, they may go away as the predator starts to know you better and begins using better and more cunning tactics. Pay attention to the behavior the possible predator exhibits early on in your communication with him or her. Does he or she argue with some of your beliefs and opinions? Does he or she make you feel that you are ignorant or ill-informed for standing by the convictions you have? Later, if the predator perceives that arguing with your beliefs isn’t the way to win you over, he or she will use different methods of doing so. This is why you must analyze all of your initial contact with the person.  To be honest, the predator of the heart who has just exited my life showed plenty of sides of himself that were objectionable to me early on in our friendship. I found him abrasive and argumentative. I even wondered why he wanted to be friends with me since it was evident to me that he and I were different in a number of ways. Yet after awhile, he seemed to have somehow made himself a fixture in my life. I didn’t even realize it had happened, until it already had. Although this man had seemed perfectly content with his life when I first met him, as time went on, he began to infer that I was fulfilling some kind of deep personal need he had. By making me believe this, he succeeded in brainwashing me into thinking that I had to put up with him, no matter how unkindly or harshly he treated me. When he would instigate debates, I would be drawn into them like a fly being drawn into the web of a spider. Before I knew it, he had actually managed to create a certain amount of alienation between me and my mother because she recognized him for what he was, and he sensed that. I suddenly became a victimized princess locked in a tower with a mother who was, to use his terminology, “an ogre”. He tried to make himself the center of my world—indeed, the only person who really had my best interest at heart. At one point, he sent me ten and twelve e-mails a day. When I tried to tell him I couldn’t respond to all of them, he attempted to make me feel guiltyand even accused me of trying to end our friendship. Predators of the heart are very good at making you feel as if you are blame when you try to fight them. For them, you see, only their desires exist. And your mission in life, in their mind, is to gratify these desires.

“But what do I do?” you ask, almost in despair. See, I knew you would ask this. . .and, truth be told, I am still finding new and better ways in regard to how to deal with predators of the heart with each passing day. What I advise is that you stop looking at the conduct you see and start looking at the intentions behind the conduct. If your would-be predator-of-the-heart tells you that he/she loves you even though he/she told you a few weeks before that he didn’t believe in love, pay attention. If he or she says that he is a loyal and true friend to you, even though he/she told you at another time that he/she had a “big mouth” and was always talking about his/her friends behind their  backs, do not ignore it. If he/she confesses to you that he/she is usually the one who walks out of a relationship, do not assume that you will be treated any differently. Although there are many people who will never tell you the truth about themselves, there are also many people who will sometimes make revealing declarations or remarks in an unguarded moment. And the moments in which a predator of the heart lets down his/her guard are the moments that matter. If you have already been the victim of a predator of the heart, the worst thing you can do is to continue victimizing yourself by dwelling on the situation and/or associating it with the person you are right now. The only reason you should even remember what happened is to know how you can prevent it from ever happening again. For if we do not look towards the past to teach us lessons, then it serves no purpose. Indeed, should we not allow the past to instruct us in how to live better and more wisely, the past is, as the poet Carl Sandburg said, no more than “a bucket of ashes.”

This diva didn’t think she would manage a new blog post today. For one thing, physical exhaustion is something I’ve been battling since I awakened yesterday. This being the case, it wasn’t a good time to be betrayed. But, you know, things like betrayal don’t come at the times that are most convenient for us! *wink* In fact, I would say that they are more likely to come at inopportune moments. However, I have a bit of encouraging news: sometimes we’re dealt our hardest blows in life just before everything takes  a turn-around for the better. So, the next time somebody who pretended to be your friend turns out to be an enemy instead, just know that the void they create in your world by no longer being in it will leave room for somebody or something wonderful.

Make each moment matter. . .make each day count. And live with passion and enthusiasm!

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

 

This page and all written material at The Success Diva pages is written by Alexis Wingate. All rights are reserved. (C) Copyright by Alexis Wingate. The Success Diva