Do you enter relationships with your walls down and your heart exposed? Do you engage in tough conversations with kindness and truth? Do you speak with authenticity and worth, regardless of the situation?

These are beautiful pursuits, and they stem from the ability to have a heart to heart connection with others. What I mean is, a connection that brings your whole self to the table and engages other people without pretense or having an agenda.

There are a few factors that keep us from having a heart to heart connection with others though. The first and foremost is fear. Rooted at the core of each of us—woven deeply into our insecurities—is the fear of losing control. It’s that false belief that if we expose our truest selves, (that place where personality meets soul) we will let down our guard and relinquish the ability to dictate what others think about us. But not only do these masks and games fail to protect our reputation, they actually create dangerous barriers to healthy relationship.

What would happen if we could all just be ourselves fully and completely releasing our tight reign of control while stepping away from manipulation?

The answer: We would nurture real and rich connection with the freedom to be ourselves.

In my business, I am often required to have difficult conversations. They usually fall into the category of establishing value. “Am I receiving the value I paid for?” This past week I have been stewing about a conversation I recently had with this in mind. I’ve repeated over and over in my mind (by the way, totally caught up!) how I will share my disappointment and not allow myself to be taken advantage of as I have to assert the need for a fair return upon what I’m paying out. I have to say, “I’m not going to pay you that last installment until you deliver something close to what you’ve promised.” It’s important, and it stands for justice—but it sure is challenging! (I bet you know the heaviness of those tough conversations too.)

But what I know is this: When I tap into my heart and speak from a place of authentic self-worth, the truth will come forward. If I stay present to my heart as I communicate the right words will flow. There doesn’t have to be manipulation or unkindness; it’s not a power play. Instead, it’s a heart to heart conversation—human to human—in which we can find reconciliation even amidst the complexity of not initially seeing eye to eye. When I use my heart to speak my mind, truthful connections will prosper. And, perhaps my eyes will open to a new perception of the situation as I listen with heart too.

Though it may sound cliche, I like to begin tough conversations like this one with the words, “Let’s have a heart to heart about what’s going on here.” Speaking intention aloud is powerful, and this sentence sets the tone for the discussion to follow.

Rumi says, “Your task is not to seek for love, but rather to remove the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” We have all built these barriers, whether big or small, that limit our love. We construct them out of fear or shame or a desire for control. But the anecdote is heart to heart connection: Let your whole self be seen with courage. From this place inside will come words of kindness and honesty as you speak your mind with heart.

From my heart to yours… May your conversations reflect the integrity that is yours to express with kindness. This is how to live with an open heart. It is indeed how to live your most vibrant life.