affectivity Alice von Hildebrand

Robots Among Us: The Key to Unlocking Your Heart

6:00:00 AMFaith Marie

I do not know about you, but sometimes it seems like we are living a world full of walking and talking robots. By that I mean we go throughout the day just doing the things we have to and never really stop to have a conversation deeper than awkward small talk or to allow ourselves to think about the deeper meaning of life. We can simply go through the motions like robots, and that is how many people choose to live every single day. In this kind of living, things happen to us and friendships are lived on the surface. Social media certainly contributes to this way of living, because you do not have to truly encounter a person but you can just learn pieces about them from what they post. It is certainly easier at times to simply live on the surface, because it is where we can be more comfortable. We do not run the risk of experiencing deep pain, because we do not enter into that place in our hearts that allows us to feel it.  We can be content with our happy little life in our happy little bubble with our happy little friends, never diving deeper into something that requires more effort.

But, can anyone else sense a problem with living like robots?

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I can speak from my own experience and tell you upfront that living on the surface like a robot is absolutely never  fulfilling. The real beauty of life is lost when we do not ‘stop to smell the roses’, if you know what I mean. In my personal life, as well as those of my friends, I have seen how living like a robot can lead to a severe disconnect with reality. In my own life, I experienced going through life like a robot, because I did not want to have emotions -so I simply numbed them. I went years with consistently shoving away any sort of deeper meaning to life other than what was on the surface, which led me to lose hope with how I perceived reality. But I came to realize that my reality of living as a robot without experiencing real joy or hurt was not the fullness of reality, and the depth of life truly does contain many causes to be hopeful -even if I did not always recognize it.

Dietrich von Hildebrand pinpoints a specific cause of living life as a robot, “We are thinking rather of a familiar type of person who is ashamed to admit that something moves him, or to express his love or to betray his contrition.” (1) We all know these kinds of people -they are the tough guys who seem like solid rock walls, the siblings who laugh at you when you try to tell them that you are upset, and the teenagers who look like they would rather die than tell you how they feel. What Hildebrand is describing is what we see everywhere.

People are ashamed to admit that something moves them -and that is a monumental problem.

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When we do not allow ourselves to be moved by the beautiful things in life, or by entering into deep friendships, we are not living in the fullness of reality. We can get stuck in the routine of stifling an emotion and being ashamed to let something touch our hearts. Eventually it becomes routine to close off our hearts and lose touch of that vulnerability which allows the human to fully embrace his personhood. Believe me, I have learned from personal experience that it is not easy to stop stifling your heart once you have started. In my experience from consistently numbing my feelings, I was slowly able to unlock my heart by recognizing all the things I have to be grateful for in my everyday life.

But we have to allow ourselves to be bold enough to express when something has touched our hearts.

So, what is the key? Bold courage. In the movie We Bought a Zoo, Matt Damon’s character claims that 20 seconds of insane courage will cause something amazing to happen. In a similar way, we have to use those 20 seconds of insane courage to express when our heart has been moved. “The heart is where love resides. The heart needs to be vindicated.” (2)

Gratefulness is a huge practical way in which to recognize the beauty in our world, because it allows you to recognize the beautiful things in life which are worthy of a response that moves your heart. One practical way to begin recognizing gratitude in your life is to take time at the end of every day to take inventory of the many things that were good from that day. This tool is invaluable in order to unlock our hearts and move past living life as a robot. Gratitude allows you to be bold, and be truly touched by the beauty of our world.

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(1) Dietrich von Hildebrand, The Heart, 44.
(2) Alice von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman, 74.
Image three.

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