For the majority of people that I work with, receiving love is much more challenging than giving it.
It’s easy to give a massage, or buy a gift, or plan a fancy date for your lover…
But receiving an authentic compliment? Receiving an hour-long massage? Receiving focused sexual attention without feeling the immediate need to reciprocate? This is where many people clam up in fear.
Why is it that receiving love is challenging for so many people?
Why Receiving Love Is More Challenging Than Giving It
People find it more challenging to receive love than give it because it rubs up against their ego’s sense of unworthiness.
It confronts the part of you that is always telling you, “I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve this. Being selfish is bad. I’m unworthy of this love/affection/attention.”
If this inner dialogue sounds familiar to you, it’s because the vast majority of people have some sense of underlying shame about themselves.
Here are the three biggest ways that you can challenge (and transform) your way into feeling more comfortable with receiving love.
1. Ask for reassurance
There will be times when someone offering you love brings up a sense of fear or anxiety for you. This is completely normal.
When this happens, make sure that you externalize your thoughts to the person across from you, let them know what stories your mind is trying to convince you of, and simply ask for the reassurance that you need.
Some examples of asking for reassurance could sound like:
– “Hey, for some reason I’m feeling really undeserving of receiving this gift from you right now. Would you mind telling me what it is that you value about me, and why you feel comfortable giving this generous and beautiful gift to me?”
– “I’m having a challenging time being in my body right now for this massage. I feel guilty, like I’m not worthy of receiving this. Would you mind telling me what you’re thinking right now, and whether or not you genuinely feel compelled to be doing this for me?”
– “Hey, can you tell me what you love about me? I’m feeling very in my head today… like I somehow don’t deserve to be with someone as amazing as you.”
Whatever you need to hear, ask for it. Plain and simple.
If you allow your life to be run by your thoughts, you will always be at their mercy.
Take charge of the stories that your mind tries to build by asking for what you need. The people who are meant to be close to you will be happy to accommodate your vulnerable request.
2. Pause, breathe it in, and believe that you are worthy of it
When your ego rushes in with it’s non-stop suggestions of how you’re unworthy/not good enough/undeserving of receiving love, break the pattern by learning to cultivate a pause.
Pause. Take a deep breath. And tell your ego to take a hike while you breathe in the deep sense of worthiness.
This is essentially the fake-it-till-you-make-it strategy. Sure, your ego might be highly adept (and highly practiced) at telling you how unworthy of a person you are, but that doesn’t mean that it needs to chime in this time.
3. Positive flooding
There are two primary strategies for helping people to overcome their fears.
The first is called progressive desensitization. Which is a fancy way of saying ‘taking baby steps until you feel better.’ For example, showing someone who is afraid of spiders a photo of a spider from across a room, and then moving on in intensity as they become comfortable with each small step.
The second strategy is called flooding. Flooding, in it’s essence, is introducing a fearful person to a large amount of the thing that they fear, all in one go.
Both of these strategies work, for healing different things for different people.
When it comes to healing your fear of receiving love, both the strategies of progressive desensitization and flooding can work.
So… how do we use flooding to overcome our fear of receiving love? By practicing positive flooding, either with our individual friends, intimate partners, or a large group of friends who hold us in high esteem.
If you’re like most people, positive flooding will be the most confronting (and therefore the most healing) of these three exercises.
Here’s an example of how I have personally used positive flooding to become more comfortable with receiving love.
For my last birthday, I invited ten of my closest friends over to my house and had them sit around me in a circle. I lay down on the floor, and my friends took turns telling me things that they loved about me. This was difficult for my ego to hear, but ultimately very healing. By the end of the exercise tears were streaming down my face and I felt overwhelmed with love. It was beautiful, and I can still feel the positive effect of that night to this day.
This is the essence of positive flooding. Whether you are being overwhelmed with physical touch, verbal praise, or anything else that registers as positive and loving to you, the point is to become overwhelmed with positive emotions.
Not sure where to start? Start with the one that seems the most do-able.
Dedicated to your success,
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