Why do we often second-guess the messages and directives from our heart? Isn’t the heart supposed to be looking out for our best interests — a sort of internal GPS for our personal growth and evolution?

Maybe it’s because unlike the clear directions we get from the GPS, heart messages can sometimes feel vague, often leading us out of our comfort zone. Or, we want to be sure that it’s truly our heart we’re following and not our head.

If there have been times of confusion in deciphering which are the genuine heart messages, here's a little primer to let you know when you’re on the right track.

1. A heart message may not make sense to anyone, but you.

As Blaise Pascal said, “The heart has its reasons of which reason does not know.”

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On paper, you may be a perfect candidate for (fill in the blank). But you may feel little to no desire to pursue that path, even though it’s obvious to everyone else that you would excel at it.

Instead, you may feel called to do something completely different, and no one in your life can understand why. This is a classic indication that the message is originating from the deepest recesses of your heart.

2. There may be several unknown variables.

You feel the call to try something big, but when you put your plan through a critical analysis, it has more holes than a donut shop. And yet, this doesn’t seem to stop you.

When I considered changing my name to "Light" 10 years ago, I made a pro’s and a con’s list, and was able to easily come up with 25 pragmatic reasons why I shouldn’t do it.

But my pro’s column had only one reason: because my heart said to do it — so I changed it.

Messages from our heart have no attached guarantees, and sometimes require enormous amounts of blind faith. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, with faith, you don’t need to see the entire staircase — just take the first step.

3. Heart-centered action can be scary, but in a good way.

If the message doesn’t make sense to anyone else and there are a lot of unknown variables in your plan, then obviously taking the next step is going to feel scary. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out and there's a chance you could lose everything.

But backing up your original heart-centered message is an underlying reassurance that even if you fall flat on your face, everything is still going to work out for the best.

4. Everyone (not just you) will benefit by your actions.

Oftentimes with following the heart, there is no obvious benefit to you at all … just a feeling you can’t seem to shake. I once convinced myself I was following my heart when I invested in real estate with the intent to flip houses and make a lot of money. This was right before the last real estate bubble burst, so you can probably guess how that story ended.

In hindsight I realized I was being driven more by greed, not by my heart.

Your heart doesn't care about making money. Nor will it ever command you to rob a bank or hurt someone — true heart messages are not outcome-oriented. Instead they are rooted in the process of generosity, compassion, love, cooperation, communication, forgiveness and empathy.

5. Immediate action is required.

Heart messages require real-time responses. They are not concerned with the past, the future, or even with details about the present. Whether you feel you have enough money, resources, or influence is irrelevant to your heart. If you let those perceived shortcomings stop you from following through, you may miss your window of opportunity.

So the next time your heart says to buy the person in line behind you a coffee, don’t start analyzing how much money you have in your pocket, or how the stranger is going to feel about your gesture. Just buy the coffee. If your heart commands you to say "Good morning" to the person next to you in the elevator, don’t analyze how they’re going to respond back. Just say it.

With practice, you’ll find the timing of the messages from your heart to be in synchronicity with whatever the higher needs of that moment may happen to be.

6. A heart message is about what's right, not what's wrong.

Sometimes you may feel an inner warning telling you that something is off … so you focus on what’s wrong, instead of what’s right. That’s usually a message from your gut, not your heart. The heart’s job is to direct you toward what’s right.

Remember this: your heart will only ever point you in the direction of your greatest, most expanded self. It will be directive, saying “Make friends with that person,” or “Take this cooking class.” Heart messages will resonate deeply and feel charming whenever you think about them. Messages from your gut are protective (“Don’t hire that person,” or “Avoid that place,” etc) and should be heeded as well.

7. It feels like the right thing to do.

Don't wait for permission or support when it comes to following your heart. Messages from the heart are notoriously unpopular, scary, or crazy to everyone else — but for you, it will feel like the right thing to do, I assure you. This is why some people suggest that following your heart will make you gullible. Actually, it makes you brave (after all, it’s the heart that will inspire you to fight for justice, to return someone's wallet, or to go after your dreams).

Your heart is your biggest ally in your spiritual development, and primarily concerns itself with helping you make progress in that department. While doing the right thing may not put a million dollars in your bank account, it is sure to leave you feeling like a spiritual billionaire — which at the end of your life is what you’ll be remembered most fondly for.

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