Beliefnet
Prayer is a powerful way to open the heart when you are stuck in anger, fear, self-judgment, resistance, or depression. When you can sincerely pray for spiritual help in opening your heart and taking responsibility for your own feelings and needs, help is there. Spirit will find some way to support you when you really desire the help. Spiritual help may come through words that pop into your mind, through images, feelings, dreams, or through other people-but it will come.

However, what if you are too stuck to pray? What if you are in resistance to opening to spiritual help, or what if you don't believe in prayer or in God?

There are many other ways of opening the heart, but none of them will work unless your intent-your deepest desire-is to learn about what is loving to you and take action in your own behalf.

There are only two intentions we can choose in any given moment:

  • To protect against pain and avoid responsibility for our own feelings with some form of controlling or addictive behavior-anger, compliance, resistance, withdrawal, alcohol, drugs, TV, gambling, food, and so on.
  • To learn about loving ourselves and others and to be willing to take loving action in our own highest good.
  • When our intention is to protect against pain, then even prayer can be another way to avoid responsibility for ourselves. Prayers with the intent to control the outcome rather than to learn will not be answered.

    When our deepest desire is to take responsibility for our own well-being, then many things, including prayer, will help.

    If you want to move out of your stuck place and prayer just isn't your thing or you just can't get yourself there, some of the following actions may help you open your heart:

    Think about what you are grateful for
    Find a way to help someone else
    Listen to music
    Take a walk
    Spend time in nature
    Open up to a friend
    Read spiritual or personal growth books
    Write in a journal
    Do a creative activity
    Dance
    Do yoga
    Attend a support-group meeting
    Play with a child or a pet
    Get held by a loving person
    Let yourself cry. Lovingly hold a doll or stuffed animal that represents the sad part of yourself.

    If you find yourself stuck in anger, here's a powerful three-step process to help you move beyond this feeling:

    1. Let yourself get really angry at someone in the present (without that person being there-you do this alone). Yell and pound on a pillow or mattress, letting yourself blame this person in detail for all your misery.

    2. Ask yourself, Who does this person remind me of from the past-mother, father, grandparent, sibling? Let yourself yell and pound, letting out all your past anger and resentment.

    3. Finally-and this is the most important part-let the angry child in you yell at the adult in you for how you are not taking care of yourself, for how you are like the people in the present and past you yelled at, how you are creating your own misery by not standing up for yourself, not taking loving action for yourself. This brings you to personal responsibility and takes you out of seeing yourself as a victim of others' choices or of the past.

    Once you understand how you are not taking care of yourself, then you need to open to learning about what is the loving action toward yourself. By sincerely asking, "What is the loving action? What is in my highest good?" answers will pop into your mind. Then, of course, you need to take the loving action you are being guided to take. Without loving action in your own behalf, nothing will change.

    Think of the sad, depressed, resistant, or angry part of yourself as a little child who is needing love. If you wait for someone else to love that child, you may wait forever. It is only when we were infants and toddlers that others were expected to attend to our needs. As adults, it is our job to take care of our own feelings and needs. If you think of yourself as the parent of this child within-the feeling part of you-it may make it easier to take responsibility for yourself.

    Happiness, peace, and joy come from loving ourselves and others, rather than from being loved. When you really understand this and take action based on this truth, you will find release and joy.

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