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The war between our heads and our hearts has raged on since the day we were born.
Although a cease-fire is possible, sometimes even for larger periods of time, it is important for me to address the elephant in the room.
Simply put, the war is never truly over until our time on this planet is up. Yikes.
But don’t click away just yet. Even if the war won’t really end until we do, we can still find a way to win—a way where nobody needs to get hurt anymore.
The truth is, our heads and our hearts can get along, and it is only our inability to properly respond to and nurture these parts of ourselves that leads them to war in the first place. Most of our problems are only a matter of miscommunication.
As someone who’s been previously diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder and chronic depression, and had two suicide attempts, I know this war between the two all too well. I was asked once to use only one word to describe that period of my life, and the best word I could find was “chaos.”
Fast forward a decade, and now I find myself in far more peaceful times. While that’s great for me, I’m sure you’re more interested in understanding how I did it. Well, it all started with one simple question.
How is our thinking fueling the conflict?
To win this war, we must first address our inherent tendency to think negatively. In fact, positive thinking as a response to life’s challenges is requisite if we are to succeed in our goals with a smile on our face (even if only some of the time).
Now I’m not talking about toxic positive thinking—that delusional positivity that says “everything is okay” when everything is absolutely not okay.
Let’s be clear: we don’t gain much by blindly ignoring things that aren’t bubbly, warm, and comfortable. If anything, toxic positivity only fuels the ongoing war between our heads and our hearts. In denying the fact that the conflict exists, we not only stop seeing it, but in doing so, we also stop seeing how to end it.
What I’m saying here is that a positive, realistic response to most circumstances in life is beneficial. Part of winning the war between our heads and our hearts comes from teaching our head to stop “hitting itself” with incessant negativity, and instead, accept the reality of life’s challenges with an outlook that says, “Yes, this sucks, but I’m willing to look for a silver lining.”
But what about my heart? What’s its role in all of this?
Most of the time, our heart is relatively chill—so chill that in the war between our heads and our hearts it barely even fights. If anything, it doesn’t need to—our thinking is already so good at fighting itself.
While our heart speaks quietly and confidently about the most important of matters, our head shouts loudly (for most of us) about everything it sees, wants, hates, fears, dislikes, and pretty much anything anyone else sparks into our minds. Case in point, think about a tennis ball. Why a tennis ball, you ask? No reason. Regardless, you’re now thinking about a tennis ball and your heart couldn’t care less—unless you love the sports.
The biggest issue we have in hearing our hearts comes from the simple reality that it is being drowned out by the incessant stream of conscious thought that babbles through our brains during every waking hour.
Beyond choosing to positively respond to life’s challenges within the way we think of things, learning how to quiet our mind enough to hear our heart is also absolutely necessary if we are to create the conditions that enable a cease-fire to occur.
From overthinking to overloving.
In conclusion, the war between our heads and our hearts is a largely one-sided affair, with our heads dealing all the blows (and receiving most of them, too).
Learning to win the war is not a matter of fighting anything other than our negativity. But even within this, we’re not trying to get radically positive about everything. We’re merely trying to think more kindly about ourselves and seek out silver linings.
Beyond changing the way we think, we also win by thinking more quietly or ideally a lot less. In doing so we are able to hear our heart—the only source within us that holds the fullproof road map to inner peace.