The Illusions Of The Defended Heart – Breaking Down The Barriers To Love
Broken hearts and barriers … mending relationships or seeking new connections – Moonee Ponds MindBody Health Centre’s Kinesiologist, Samantha Bladon, reveals what might be holding you back from finding happiness and love.
Most of us know what it feels like to have a defended heart. We have all probably experienced some painful interaction that has ignited the felt need to protect ourselves – whether it was a feeling of not getting the love we needed as a child, or an intimate relationship ending when we didn’t want it to. Whatever the story; most of us know how to guard our heart.
Being someone who suffers from chronic Defended Heart Syndrome (DHS) I can only tell you what I have learnt from this condition. The ultimate truth I have learnt is that this syndrome is based on a big illusion. The illusion is; if I protect my heart and am cautious in my dealings with others then I will keep myself from experiencing any more pain. In my experience, however, it is this exact belief that has caused some very deep long-lasting pain.
We defend our heart because we don’t want to feel pain. We say we have a ‘broken heart’, so we surmise that if we protect it then we will defend against any future hurt – against any future damage. It seems to make some logical sense right? This is, however, another illusion.
Our heart is not damaged. The pain we feel is grief because of a loss – the loss of a cherished belief, about our relationship or our self, instead of honouring the grief as part of the process of growth. At some point we make a decision to defend our heart in the hope of protecting ourselves from ever feeling this kind of pain again. This gives us a sense of doing something proactive to ease our suffering.
Eventually we meet someone new and we fall into the intoxicating dance of attachment and ‘getting to know you.’ Depending on how your DHS manifests will determine at what point your defence kicks in. For some it will be present from the start, constantly telling us that the self or other will never be good enough and the field between the two will be full of projection, misinterpretation and hurt.
Eckhart Tolle calls this the ‘pain body.’ For some, their DHS will really become activated the more intimate they become. Remember, the DHS objective is to make sure we never feel that pain again – that we keep enough of a barrier up to ward off any potential hurt.
The irony I have found is that when I was suffering from chronic DHS, I was always in pain and this is why. If my heart is defended and I am trying to love someone over this barrier and the chances are they are trying to love me from behind their defended heart barrier; then really there is very little heart connection going on. In reality, it’s the defended parts interacting – it’s the defended parts trying to have a relationship! Sounds like a recipe for disaster and often it is!
So, now what? If we accept that most of us get into relationships in the first place because we feel love and most of us want to stay in relationship to keep experiencing love then it makes sense that this is the part we need to focus on and nurture. If my partner is being defensive or even hurtful, the chances are that they are coming from a defended place. If I can see this then I know they are in reaction to something. Why would I take this as their true self? Why would I take it personally? If I see them in pain, why would I not help them to calm down?
When I am in my heart I see it’s not personal, I see the pain is with the other. If one of us is able to stay connected with our heart, it soon becomes obvious if we can move beyond the defence, but this is not easy!
Having a conversation about this before things get heated can help as well as committing to being responsible for our own defences and doing the work to soften them.
Samantha Bladon is an experienced Kinesiologist specialising in Relationship and Couples Counselling. Samantha has assisted many individuals and couples to help strengthen their relationships. If you would like to book an appointment with Samantha (available Mondays) please contact The Centre to arrange.