How to Guard Your Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” –Proverbs 4:23

King Solomon and I have beef. I have a post in drafts on his misogynistic letters to his son in the book of Proverbs, and from beyond the grave he can catch this hot fire I’ve got for him.

But, he does offer *some* good words: mainly, Proverbs 4:23. Despite your gender identity, guarding your heart above all else can save your life, if you understand what it means to guard your heart, and how to guard your heart effectively.

What does it mean to guard your heart?

Your heart is what makes you you. Our thoughts and emotions are supposed to be the evidence of who we really are. The problem is that without knowing who we really are and operating from that space, our thoughts and emotions may provide false evidence of our identity. Low self-esteem and insecurities are some of the fruit that comes from a lack of awareness of our true self.

While we all may look different and be from different places and experience the world differently, as a result, who we actually are is the same. We are spirit, we are light, we are physical manifestations of God on earth.

India.Arie repeats the mantra “I am light,” in her song of the same name, rejecting the things her family did, the voices in her head and the pieces of her brokenness as evidence of who she is. No; she understands that her true self is “all light”.

The highest and best versions of ourselves, our light, only need two emotional things: love and acceptance. The highest and best version of ourselves knows that we are powerful enough, as manifestations of God on earth, to give the two things our spirit needs to ourselves. We get full from self-love and self-acceptance. Other people’s love and acceptance of us is supposed to just be a nice surplus. From that surplus, you can give more love and acceptance to others.

READ MORE: VALIDATION AND THE DESPERATE NEED TO JUSTIFY DUMB STUFF YOU DID

But the regular-degular version of us is using our self-fulfilling power to give love and acceptance to others before we first fill ourselves up. Then we are despondent when others don’t do the same for us. The regular-degular us seeks out other people and things in order to feel loved and accepted. And we get consumed by the regular-degular version of the world, where racism, sexism, queerphobia, ableism and more kinds of oppression reign supreme on a systemic level. On an individual level, as you can imagine, one person not operating from their highest self seeking validation from another person not operating from their highest self is bound to have disastrous consequences that can impact our health and quality of life.

Which is where the reminder to “guard your heart” comes into play.

In other words: remember who you are.

When you face inevitable rejection by those who cannot see your light, do not value your light, or wish to destroy your light: remember who you are.

And understand that people have the right to reject you. That’s free will. No one is obligated to see, accept and love your light. It may very well be their loss, but that’s not your business. When humans aren’t operating from their highest self, Jeremiah 17:9 becomes true: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure; who can understand it?” We don’t need to understand it. As my favorite law school professor taught me, “Other people’s problems are other people’s problems; don’t make them your own.”

While we’re completely allowed to feel hurt by rejection and to process it in our own time, our job is to remain the highest and best version of ourselves. This isn’t some “when they go low, we go high” respectability politics either. You have a right to self-defend from harm and to call out harmful behavior that is happening towards you. You get to ask for what you want from people and you have the right to expect good, kind behavior from the people who have expressed a commitment to do that for you in your relationships. You do. They have the right to say no to you. And you have the right to adjust your commitments and move on if people are unwilling or unable to do for you what you need.

READ MORE: HOW TO DEAL WITH ENEMIES

The key, again, no matter what others are doing or how they’re treating you is to remember who you are. Do not lose your peace or your true self over someone’s inability or disinterest in meeting your need and upholding their commitment to you. Be so fully anchored in your love and acceptance of self that not getting those things from others can’t touch your inherent worthiness. Remember who you are.

We are spirit. We are light. We are physical manifestations of God on earth. We are Divine beings. God’s own miracles. The two things our soul needs–love and acceptance–we are fully equipped to provide for ourselves. Never let a person or situation have power enough over you to tell you otherwise.

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