Art: Heart at War

Heart at War – The cause of self-hatred
Heart at War – The cause of self-hatred

10th June 2016, Prismacolor on A3 cartridge paper

This picture was inspired by a theory about the heart in Christa Black Gifford’s book Heart Made Whole. The theory comes from Andrew Miller, a marriage and family therapist. He suggests that that there are three parts to the heart.

The emotional heart – This is the part of the heart that feels. We can condemn this part of our heart when we feel pain and other negative feelings. We can stifle it and shame it instead of try to understand it and find out why it feels the way it does. It eventually shuts down when it can’t cope with the pain.

The guardian heart – This is the part of the heart that protects us. It wants to keep us safe and will do this however it can. It’s always alert, looking for enemies. It keeps pain away from our consciousness because it thinks it will overwhelm us and we won’t be able to function. Some of the ways it protects itself include: going with the flow to be accepted, fitting into crowds easily, performance, people-pleasing, and perfectionism. The guardian heart is well developed when the emotional heart is wounded. It works tirelessly and is exhausted.

The function heart – This is the part of the heart that makes decisions. It governs how we spend our time and who we spend it with. It governs what we do. When it’s disconnected from the rest of the heart, it can strive to perform and do everything out of duty. Its goal is to keep moving us forward. It denies emotional pain to keep us functioning.

Self-hatred comes when the heart is at war with itself, when the heart is disconnected, when the heart is not whole. We can never have peace when our heart is divided. We need to listen to each part of the heart and see how they are going.

When I checked how my heart was going, these were the pictures I got for each part:

Emotional heart – I saw someone running around screaming and tearing things. She makes no sense, she’s just going crazy. She’s yelling but no-one can hear her.

Guardian heart – I saw someone standing like a statue. Stony face, serious, holding a spear. She’s scares people away. She doesn’t want anyone to go near the screaming emotional heart. She tells it to calm down and shut up.

Function heart – I saw a little girl in her bedroom spreading papers on the floor. She’s ordering them. She smiles as she sings to herself. Then she has a moment of sadness but she gets up, goes to her dresser and puts make-up on. She’s making things look neat and pretty.

And there’s the war: the emotional heart wants to be heard but the guardian heart shuts it out and the function heart pretends everything is fine.

I need to let all parts of my heart speak freely. My heart needs to be cared for. It needs to be made whole.


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