5.5 Editor's Pick
October 22, 2021

How I Learned to Listen to my Heart after a Decade of Trauma & Addiction.

“Make the difference you were born to make by making the decision to.” ~ Brittany Mondido


You’re here for a special, unique purpose.

Believe it or not, each and every single one of us has a special gift to share with the world, and sometimes we turn a shoulder on the calling of our hearts.

We live in a world of noise where we tend to compare ourselves with those around us, whether that be in-person or on social media.

Here’s the thing: whatever it is that you focus on will come to life and become your life.

Maybe you’ve heard this before, “Whatever you focus on, grows.” If you focus on the negative, the obstacles will grow. If you focus on the positive, opportunities will grow. 

Which do you choose to focus on?

For example, if you find you are comparing yourself to someone else and think you’re unworthy, you will start feeling unworthy and unconsciously create a false-based evidence story (that you will believe) as to why you’re not enough to step into your dreams.

This will become a pattern if you’re not aware and coasting through life will be your new default. 

This, alone, almost stopped me in my tracks from going after my dreams because if it wasn’t the outside noise of the world, it was the inside world in my mind that I didn’t know how to turn off. 

I was disconnected from my heart.

Since I was a little girl, I had big dreams, yet I’ve always felt I had to think small and fit into a little box. I believe we were born to think outside of the box.

I was raised by my father (along with my two sisters), and thankfully he always held space for me to make mistakes. I’ve made a lot of them, and they turned into lessons. He raised us to work hard for what we want in life, so I started working when I was 13 years old and later found myself working in healthcare for about a decade.

I checked off every single box I thought I was supposed to. I inherited other people’s dreams because when I looked around, everyone was living the same life. I always thought something was wrong with me for seeking more: more love, more unity, more purpose, and more meaning from each day.

Some would call it daydreaming, others would call it a possibility.

After checking off the boxes of having a great job, a great relationship, and going to school—doing life the traditional way—I still wasn’t happy. There was always another to-do list, and I wanted to be more, have more, and share more. I wasn’t seeking materialistic things.

I was seeking something deeper and, at this time, I wasn’t sure how to figure out what that was.

I just knew that beneath all of the layers there was something that wanted to be set free.

For many years, I told myself the story that something was wrong with me, and I believed it and coasted through life until I couldn’t live with the pain anymore. 

The pain wasn’t on the surface. It was much deeper and it was blocking the connection to my heart.

I tragically lost a dear friend of mine, during my sweet 16th, right in front of my own eyes. For 14 years, I didn’t speak about it with anyone and if anyone had brought it up, I would break down, get angry, and argue over it.

Little did I know that my anger was a cry for help—a callout for love. I wasn’t willing to receive the help because, at the time, I didn’t believe I needed any. 

I chose to live with my pain and become numb because it hurt even more to talk about it and admit there was something wrong inside.

Each time I heard her name, I would cry but never in front of anyone because it hurt too much and made it too real. I didn’t know how to be vulnerable with myself, let alone with anyone else. I kept looking on the outside for love, not realizing love isn’t on the outside; it can only be found within.

No one knew I was hurting inside, and it wasn’t a good place to be at that time. My world was dark, my dreams were hidden, and my pain was only expressed through writing.

I stayed in healthcare because helping people heal became my addiction and if someone had something life-threatening, I took my job even more seriously because I had to find all the answers. 

I lost sleep due to the time I spent researching and began to build personal relationships with patients because I now felt responsible for their health and well-being. 

Reflecting back, this was an unhealthy cycle for me, but it allowed me to help people, and that was what brought me peace at the end of the day—even if it was short-term.

It was as if I was trying to find the answers to my own story in order to save my lost friend. I ended up disappointed and beating myself up every single time someone passed on. 

I kept living my story over and over. I blamed myself (for 14 years) for something I didn’t have any control over, and it led to me controlling everything and everyone around me. 

If I lost sight of control, I freaked out. If anyone treated me poorly, I believed with my entire being that I deserved it.

I didn’t know any other way and kept searching for answers and short-term pleasures on the outside until I had nowhere else to turn. 

I kept finding myself in the same patterns in all areas of my life because I refused to look at my pain and believed I didn’t deserve happiness, joy, or anything worthwhile, especially my big dreams.

So my dreams remained hidden.

I’d write through my pain or read books and learn about other people’s stories, which inspired me to explore outside of my own head.

This led me to my heart.

I kept hearing about meditation, journaling, self-development, and awareness and became obsessed with human behavior. It wasn’t fun because at first, I had to sit with myself. 

I didn’t really know who I was, and I didn’t even like myself. I didn’t have my own identity or know who I was because all I did was hide my heart. 

My ego was the only voice familiar to me, and my perspective was dark. Life is hard, no one is happy, and we all die. That’s all I saw and what I had known so far.

Now, when I reflect back, I view each experience with love and insight.

I am part of a loving family that does anything and everything for each other. Unconditional love and support are what kept me going. My father didn’t judge me for my mistakes or left turns, and he was right there for me when I made it right. He was an arm’s reach away at all times, hence my company’s name which is also my father’s initials (ARM).

If you look at pictures of me throughout the years, I can tell my smile was not the one I know today. I wore a big smile for most of the years until that smile started to fade. The mask eventually came off when I wore it for too long because it started to suffocate me.

After my breakup with the love of my life, I cried alone while sitting on my couch—the only thing I had in my apartment at the time.

I remember closing my eyes and not wanting to open them.

I can’t say what inspired me to meditate at that moment, but there I was taking a shot at it. I wasn’t able to sit still, calm my mind, or even keep my eyes closed. Again, I was telling myself something was wrong for not being able to just sit there.

Each day, something called me into meditation and that is when I began my healing journey.

While in meditation, I cried for almost a full year. Each time I would close my eyes, I sat with so much sadness. 

I went from closing my eyes to get away from the moment into closing my eyes to be in the present moment.

I found myself on a healing journey that I was unaware I had even called in. It did get challenging, but I wouldn’t change one single step of the path because of where the footsteps led me.

I was led to self-love, healing, awareness—a thriving life and fulfilling my heart’s dreams.

It started with looking at where I had come from and honoring my feelings to where I was at that present moment without judging myself. 

This was my practice and not a to-do list. Moreso, a “to-be/become” list. I needed to learn to be vulnerable and honest with myself and then learn to build trust with myself. This was something that was extremely foreign to me.

I knew I didn’t want to continue living the way I was. 

I was living, but not really living. I couldn’t sleep at night or be present in any experience because I was in my head not knowing how to be in my heart or if that was even possible. 

Until I did.

We tend to look to the left and the right rather than look directly to ourselves and tap into our hearts to lower the noise. We can learn to check in with ourselves and see what’s true for us as individuals.

So whatever your dreams are, go after them.

They are for you.

Whatever you need to heal, don’t turn your shoulder on it.

If you’re feeling triggered, it’s telling you something.

If you find yourself comparing yourself to someone or seeing someone else doing something similar, it just means it’s possible. It doesn’t make you any less than.

Whether it’s today or in 10 years from now, your dreams will still be embedded in your heart waiting for you to answer the call and share them with the world.

The world needs more love and it starts with you—loving you first. Maybe that’s foreign to you, too. I challenge you to explore it and be curious about it.

That is what we are here for: to explore and discover the art of our heart and share it with others to create a collective energy of love and unity. 

We live in a world of opportunities and obstacles. You may see more of one versus the other, depending on which lens you’re looking through.

Your personal story will be healing for someone else and inspire freedom on their path to eventually set them free.

If your dream is to do something someone else is doing, please do it if you believe it’s your heart’s calling. The way you creatively express your heart will be shared differently, interpreted differently, received differently, feel differently to each and every person that comes across it.

That’s what makes us unique.

Similar to what’s around us, there are many doctors, lawyers, restaurants, authors, cafés, yet each has its own practice, its own way to share its light with the world, and its own stories.

So, when you think you’re not enough, think again.

When you think you’re too young, think again.

When you think you’re too old, think again.

When you think about starting later, think again.

The world needs your light and there are people in the world seeking it.

Step into your light and make the difference you were born to make by making the decision to.

This doesn’t mean you have to go through pain to find your light—that’s just my story.

Be curious about what your heart has to say and answer the call. Show up and stand up for your dreams because they’re for you or else you wouldn’t be dreaming it.

Thought Exercise

 >> What is my heart saying?

 >> What am I pretending not to know?

 >> If time, money, and other people’s opinions were not a factor, what would I do?

Step 1: Awareness

As awareness grows, you will have a better understanding of your patterns. Some will serve you and others will not.

Meditation has changed my life and has helped me become connected to my heart. Build a deeper connection with yourself and the rest will follow. The more connected you become, the more you’ll hear your heart’s voice. Take responsibility and honor your path. This will bring you peace and closer to your heart’s mission.

Step 2: Practice

Practice being you and becoming confident with the person you truly are—not what others expect you to be. With intentional practice comes progress. Start with one day at a time and it will eventually balance your life. A little eventually adds up to a lot.

Step 3: Decide

Make the decision and say yes to yourself. And if you need to heal, then heal.

Don’t leave any space for external opinions and potential pressures. Remember why you made the decision, and be sure to make the decision with the energy of faith rather than fear.

When we are completely honest and vulnerable with ourselves, our heart knows all of the answers.


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Brittany Mondido  |  Contribution: 270

author: Brittany Mondido

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Editor: Brooke Mundell

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