The Book of Proverbs in the Bible says :
Guard your heart, for out of it flows issues pertaining to life.
“Guard your heart”: When people hear the phrase , they think that means putting up impenetrable walls around yourself to keep from getting hurt. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Guarding your heart means not allowing bitterness, resentment and negativity reside in your soul.
Here are 10 ways to do this:
1. Mind your associations/ relationships: Your relationships can make or break you. The people that you associate with can bring positivity or negativity with them. Are your closest friends a constant source of gossip, negativity, and stories about what is wrong with the world? Do your closest associates live lives of bitterness and resentment? Watch out, so that they do not snuff out your light. You eventually become just like the people that you spend the most time with.
2. Watch what you watch, read and listen to: The news. Naysayers. Carriers of doom and gloom. Even the fiction that we watch or listen to constantly has an effect on the state of our heart.
3. Acknowledge and deal with negative emotions: The presence of negative emotions is not a moral failure. The presence of negative emotions is not a character flaw. The presence of negative emotions is not a sign of mental illness. It all just means that you are human. A negative emotion is like a poisonous spider walking into a room. We do not ignore the poisonous spider. However, neither do we burn the whole house down. The most appropriate reaction is somewhere in the middle. The same goes for our emotions. Do not ignore or suppress them, but do not over react either. Suppressed emotions, once they have reached a certain “critical mass” can boil over into resentment that can be hard to recover from.
4. Have your circle of trust that you can vent to, who can help you bear your burdens: The Bible talks about helping others to bear their burdens. Have a circle of trust that you can bare your soul to, and who can help you, if your heart starts to get cluttered with “stuff”.
5. Do not violate your conscience: Do not go against your own moral principles. This leads to a spirit of heaviness in your heart. Be clear on what your principles are and stick to them, as they guide your life.
6. Pray: Jesus said for my yoke is easy and my burden light. Let go and let God. Choose to walk the path of light and love. Prayer will guide you into this path. The reason to pray is not to fill some “goodness” or “I-had-my-quiet-time-today” check box. It is to get closer to God and fill your life with the Divine. The more of God fills your heart, the less “wrong stuff” will get a chance to stick around for long.
7. Realize that there are some things you can control and some things you cannot: Instead of getting mad about what you cannot control, change your focus. If you can do something about a situation, do something. If you cannot, (not if you will not, those are two different things…), change your focus to what is working. If a situation is unacceptable to you, revoke yourself from it.
8. Set boundaries over what you will and will not allow in your life, and make yourself responsible for enforcing those boundaries: If your boundaries are disrespected or overridden, this can lead to resentment towards the offending parties. However, if you continue to allow your boundaries to be disrespected, you will only have yourself to blame in the long run.
9. Refuse to live a life of offense, malice and unforgiveness: This is key. Be quick to forgive, and let people go. Forgiveness may not always mean reconciliation, however. Choose an attitude of joy. Do not be that person that “isn’t talking” to a dozen people. If 20 people are “offended at you”, the problem is probably not them, but you. Learn to become more self aware, so that you can purposefully choose positivity and light, instead of resentment.
10. Develop an attitude of gratitude: Gratitude brings joy, and displaces negativity with positivity, and light. Gratitude for what you have, is a true antidote to grumpiness, bitterness and resentment.
In what ways do you guard your heart?