I began my work as an activist shortly after Nov. 2016. During the last four years I also went through multiple stages of growth and development. Much of my growth is connected to expanding my education of how love is a tool for social justice. The most obvious example I can point to, is comparing the activist I was pre-heart centered work vs. the activist I evolved into as my awareness became more whole hearted. When I have moments of doubt, or need a reminder of the power of this work, I revisit my progress, and the evidence presents itself.
What consistently stands out to me every time I do this exercise is how different I would be without the tools of joy, delight, love, and compassion. And the most powerful of these tools has been without a doubt, love. This has also been one of the most raw, uncomfortable, vulnerably gross journey’s I’ve ever embarked on. So before I forget why I wanted to open my heart about this let me share what I was like pre-heart centered journey vs. post- H.C.J.
In 2016 I was closed off from actually participating in our democracy. I voted, had my opinions, and stayed up on current events… but I didn’t have my heart in the arena. If fact, I’m pretty sure I was more “in the stands,” then in the arena. This impacted how I showed up in the following ways: I had little to no civic involvement in my community. I wasn’t interested in neighborhood relationships, or investing in community beyond my own house and my friend group. I had turned down the volume on my heart energy and adapted to toxic environments that required me to “armor up” and be thick skinned.
When I brought this energy with me into my activism I quickly realized that if I wanted to have an impact I had to drop narratives that were based in fear, anger, resentment, and other ego driven protective emotions. Instead, I had to lean into the opposite end of the spectrum. I had to turn to love, compassion, forgiveness, and other heart centered emotions that are intimidating AF, and make me want to throw up and hide in a corner. Just because this work has proven it’s value to me over and over again, does not mean it gets easier or that I enjoy it the more I do it… This journey is epic, and I am still a hobbit. So some days are easier than others.
When I began to get serious about my heart centered work in 2018, the first thing I was presented with was my relationship with toxic masculinity. I spent the next two years incorporating healing and forgiveness into my relationships with this toxic energy. Had I ignored this work, I would have missed out on deeper connections with many of the men who matter most to me. Bringing heart centered work into this area of my life immediately shifted how I started showing up in my neighborhood. Saying, “good morning,” and giving a smile to everyone my neighborhood started to become a practice.
As I expanded my heart centered practice into my activism it became clear I needed to get the root of decades of internalized racism, misogyny, and patriarchal supremacy in order to heal and be an effective activist. As I began to advocate for issues such as criminal justice reform and women’s reproductive rights, knowing how to listen with empathy, reserve judgement, and hold space in support and solidarity, all required love and compassion. The more I brought heart centered motivations into my activism, I began to feel a layer of healing that wasn’t there before.
The major shift that heart centered work has brought to my activism, is where my investment is motivated from. Heart centered work forces me to relinquish my ego and as difficult as this is, it opens up amazing opportunities when it is put into practice. Setting aside my ego and leaning into heart center activism allows for: vulnerable conversations, showing up in unfamiliar settings, or the ultimate gift: authentic emotional connections with others. Opening myself up to the vulnerability of heart centered work has not been easy. But, I also know that if we want to dismantle the oppressive systems of injustice we must approach this work from a place of love or we risk continuing destructive cycles that will impede any progress we hope to make. I can personally attest to the impact of heart centered work in activism. I am now a firm believer that love gives us the courage to pursue accountability, push for progress, and enable equitable economic solutions, when we are brave enough to practice it.