On “Being True to Your Heart”

September 4, 2011

Sometimes I think that “being true to your heart” is at once the stupidest and the wisest advice ever given to everybody in the world.  The reason lies in the fact that we don’t really know what the heart is.

Where we go wrong is when we equate the heart with emotions.  Much too often when we are faced with a difficult–even life-changing–decision, our peers will ask us, “Well, what do you feel?  You can’t deny following your heart!  :]]”

But this is stupid advice…because emotions change far too easily.  Everyone knows how ridiculously absurd our emotions can be sometimes (even for our male side of our species).  We can despise someone then absolutely love them the next day; or, we’ll agree to go to a dance because we’re in a dancing mood in the morning and immediately bail out on our partner if we don’t feel in a dancing mood at night.  If we use emotions as a guide for our actions, we have no integrity.  We would never be the same person.

So when is “be true to your heart” good advice?  It’s when we equate the heart with our conscience and values.  When we define the heart as such, our heart is not some flighty thing with no weight or respect; rather, it becomes the very core and essence of who we are.  This is the “heart” that is guided at once by reason and emotion — reason helps us know what is right, and emotion helps us fight for what is right.

The Church realizes the difference.  For those of us who went to Catholic school, that’s why we learn in the 2nd grade to make our decisions based on our well-formed conscience and values, not on our emotions.

Emotions change far too easily.  And while our values can change over time too, they only do so after long reflection and prayer.

An awesome song to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day