The need for Open-Heartedness might seem like a given, but why does it need to be universal?
Most healers will tell you that they care about the clients they are working with. But do we care about them more than we do about other people, who we perhaps don’t even know? I suggest that if we do care more about our clients than about others, we are doing a tremendous disservice to those clients.
How does that work?
It’s all about where I am coming from as a healer. It might sound nice to know that I care about my clients, but what is it that makes me care about them? Is it that I care about everybody whether they are a client or not, or is it something to do with the particular relationship that I have with them?
If it’s something to do with our particular relationship, then that suggests that with other people, I might be less caring. It raises the question, what is it about our particular relationship that enables me to be caring about them? What is it that all my relationships with clients have in common? It’s the decision to work together, which is usually based on the money they’re paying me to do the work.
This highlights the transactional nature of the “care”. If I am someone who can, in other circumstances, hold judgements about people; if I am someone who can go home and shout at and intimidate my family; if I am someone who can take sides or get into an argument or ill-tempered conversation, either in daily life or on social media, and I think that these things have no bearing on my relationship with my clients, then I am mistaken. By being someone who is capable of doing those things, I have made it clear that my clients have bought and paid for my caring behaviour and that if they hadn’t they might get a different me. This will be sensed by them on some level, and it is indisputably true, however uncomfortable it may be to face.
The fact that I know this, at least unconsciously, and the fact that they can feel it, at least unconsciously, limits the extent to which I can truly serve them. It will also attract a particular vibration of relationship that might not be what I ideally want: if I have this incongruity within me, then a healer-client relationship would only be able to begin if both of us accepted (unconsciously, energetically) that trust and care could be undermined in a much greater range of circumstances than would otherwise be the case.
If, on the other hand, I care about everybody equally and behave universally in a way that attracts only positive energies and neutralises negative ones, then what my clients are getting is who I am in my authentic self, and they can be sure that they are getting something genuine.
The fact is, if I can’t be open-hearted towards everyone and everything, then I can’t be truly open-hearted towards anyone or anything. It will always be a conditional open-heartedness.
And this must include myself. I would run into the same contradictions if I wasn’t compassionate to myself in all circumstances as well as to others.
There’s a beautiful symbiosis between self-compassion and humility. They work closely together to elevate us. Our unreasonable demands on ourselves come from the ego and its need to prove itself to justify or earn its existence. Self-compassion removes this need by affirming our inherent value, while humility removes the intense focus on ourselves that elevates it.
It wouldn’t make any sense for me to burn myself out doing all I can for others, as my capacity to do anything at all would soon be fatally undermined.
For this reason, there’s a lot of talk in the energy healing community (as well as in many other communities, and sometimes in life generally) of setting “healthy boundaries”; the idea being precisely to avoid this sort of burnout and strengthen the healer in protecting themselves from feeling a compulsion to always help, so that their healing capabilities may be preserved and optimised.
It sounds very sensible, and yet it can be highly counter-productive. To understand why, we need to look at where that compulsion is coming from.
There are 2 possible sources contributing, probably at the same time: (i) the natural impulses of my open heart to look after the other person in whatever way I can, and (ii) a sense of obligation that most likely comes from issues of self-esteem and a perceived need to earn my place in the world.
Naturally, we don’t want to be driven by the second, and the idea of boundaries is intended to avoid that. However, in employing boundaries, we also repress the first. Worse, we justify this repression with clever mental reasoning that has no effect on the inner impulses of the heart that we are ignoring. An internal conflict develops as our mental justifications diverge sharply from what’s going on in our heart, which can only be terrible for our spiritual health.
And even as far as the sense of obligation goes, however undesirable that may be, is the best way of dealing with it really to simply decide not to follow it and justify our decision with careful arguments? Will this really put the issue to bed? Or is it much more likely that this less healthy side of the compulsion will also continue within, and a similar internal conflict will develop here too, with our external words and behaviour at odds with our inner urges?
In this way, we get the worst of both worlds.
Surely, the most self-compassionate approach would be to deal separately with the undesired sense of obligation (which, as energy healers, we are privileged to have the tools to address in ourselves), and to leave space for our heart impulses to speak to us and guide our actions. It would mean adopting a far more fluid approach to boundaries, with the firm confidence that we are able to tune into our healthy impulses and make the right balanced decisions based on these messages from the heart rather than on logically worked-out constructs.
There have been times when I have done extra work on clients who were in need late at night when I’ve been tired and with no expectation of remuneration because that felt like the right thing to do at the time. There’ve been other times when there’s been an equally pressing need on a client’s behalf but I have done nothing about it because I haven’t felt in the condition to do so at the time, or because I felt it would deplete me, or simply because my heart didn’t guide me to do so at the time and to force it would have led me to act out of obligation and created another internal-conflict. There will, of course, always be some uncertainty as to whether our impulses are coming from our hearts or from our emotional baggage, but we become more trustful of ourselves with time (and with the progressive reduction of that baggage).
It may feel far less comfortable to acknowledge that my heart is not open to something or someone at a particular moment than it is to justify a decision through reasoning or fixed rules, and it may feel a little scary not to have these rules in place to justify inaction in the face of a sense of obligation, but in the long run, it is the very best way to preserve my integrity and open-heartedness (including to myself).