There is no question that this holiday season is nothing like we’ve seen in our lifetime. Especially here in the U.S. where we are being asked to not have family holiday gatherings across the country. But this post isn’t about the pandemic or politics.
This time of year is known as the season for giving. Some may even say that the giving of gifts and stuff have overshadowed any other aspect of giving season for a long time. Many people are great at giving. Presents, money to causes that we believe in, our time. Maybe you are one of these generous givers.
But are you open to receiving?
I’ve been sitting on this topic for a while. Partially because it didn’t feel like the timing was right and partially because this is still something that I work on daily.
I’ve always known I have had a propensity for giving more than I receive and doing more than what is expected of me. Whether that is doing more chores than my partner, picking up the restaurant bill more times than not, or contributing to a project more than others on the team. When others would offer help, offer to pay, or offered to do more, I usually kindly declined.
What I didn’t realize was how this impacted by ability to receive on all other levels. Over the years, this habit of doing and giving more changed into a measurement of my worthiness to receive love. What was once a thought process of work hard and make money turned into work hard, make money, give all of yourself, and then be worthy of love. It even went a step further into the belief that I’d surely be abandoned if I didn’t give more than I received.
Like most of our unconscious behaviors, my brain found loads of evidence to support these evolving beliefs.
That is what our beautiful Reticular Activating System (RAS) in our brain does. It makes note of what you feel, think, or want, and then filters out the other stuff to give you more proof, evidence, or opportunities to support what you are focused on. In other words, it helps you see what you want to see. Not necessarily what is factual or true. Which is why being mindful about what you think, feel, and believe is particularly important.
Once I was able to see these patterns of “earning” my love, which took a ton of inner work and support from other coaches, I was able to see all the places in my life that I shut down my ability to receive.
Here are just some of the examples of how I closed myself off from receiving:
- Self-talk – I rarely gave myself credit and instead berated myself for not doing better, trying harder, and accomplishing more. I’d ignore all the good stuff and just focus on where I felt I was “failing”. Therefore, believing I hadn’t “earned” love. What we say on the inside is reflected on the outside. Our inner world creates our outer reality.
- Self-care – This is an area I still struggle with regularly. I focused more on giving to others than myself, and that is seen when I used a chewed-up hairbrush for a year because “it still worked fine for me”, when wouldn’t spend money on a massage when I’d been struggling with migraines for months, or when I wouldn’t relax until “I got enough done.” A measure that only I set and seemed to be a black whole. How we take care of ourselves is proportionate to the care we can receive from others.
- Celebrating wins – Accomplishing things, even the big stuff, turned into simply checking off an item on my never-ending task list over the years. From promotions, to graduating with my MBA, to publishing my first book. It did it. Check. On to the next thing. I remember a dear friend sent me a “congrats” message and I had to ask him for what. “Uh…your book?!” to which I responded, “Oh, right! Thanks!” Not celebrating your wins is another notch in the “I’m not worthy, haven’t earned it, haven’t done enough” belt that constricts our ability to receive.
- Accepting compliments – Oh boy. Two things happened when I would receive a compliment. First, I would say something like, “You’re just saying that because you are nice.” Second, I body would totally constrict because I have a lot of trauma around it not being safe when I get noticed. Many people have this, unfortunately. But that deflection and constriction blocks our ability to receive.
- Accepting help and support – I’ve always been independent, but somewhere along the line I adopted the belief that people wouldn’t want to be in my circle if I couldn’t be their support system and the only way to be their support system is if I never needed their help. Check out Losing the Strength to Be Strong for more on that. It was only after I had solved my own problem, fixed the situation, made the change, or processed the grief that I would let the people around me know what had happened. Not even giving people a change to support me.
- Apologizing – I used to apologize for everything. Fumbling over my words, rescheduling a meeting or event, losing my train of thought, walking past someone. No matter what it was, I was signaling to my subconscious that I was doing something wrong, being a burden, letting someone down, and reminding myself that I’m not “worthy”. I learned over the years instead to say things like, “Thanks for your flexibility,” or “Thanks for dancing with me in this hall,” or my personal favorite now, “I lost my thought, but I’m sure it was profound!”
- Self-deprecating talk – I was good at this, too. When I’d lose my thought, I’d used to say, “If it was important, it will come back. But it probably wasn’t so it probably won’t. Or when I’d open the door with my hip and someone would chuckle, I’d say, “At least there is one benefit to a big booty.” This again impacts our inner worthiness and constricts our ability to receive when we don’t accept ourselves as we are right now.
- Fear of Abandonment – I panicked when I left corporate to start my coaching and healing practice because of my subconscious belief that I would be abandoned if I wasn’t the breadwinner anymore. This one was so interesting to unravel. With the support of my coaches, I found a belief that the amount of love I felt I was worthy of was directly proportionate the amount of money I made and a belief that people only loved me for what I could do for them. So that is how I operated most of my life. Do for others, don’t show weakness, and don’t be a burden. Whoa! Talk about shutting down my receptivity.
- Settling – In my past, I had accepted a toxic relationships, toxic jobs, and many other toxic situations that I stayed committed to because I thought I had to. I believed that I wouldn’t find better than what I had so I settled for things that didn’t make me happy and took serious tolls on my mental and emotional health. While this may not feel like a block to receiving, it is. When we say “no” to things that aren’t working, we become open to receiving the things what will work for us.
So, what happens when you are not open to receiving?
You are literally blocking all the goodness you want, and all the goodness that the universe wants to give you. I’m not a manifesting or law of attraction expert, but what I do know is that if you want that dream job, the love of your life, the beautiful home or vacation, you need to be open to receiving it. Open to receiving the suggestion, the help, the support, the opportunity, the idea, etc. If you are not open to receiving a little compliment for a job well done, for example, you’ve just let the universe know that you aren’t ready to receive anything else.
So where are you blocking yourself from receiving?
Here are some reflective writing prompts for you this week:
- What are your beliefs about receiving?
- Where do those beliefs come from?
- Where are you open to receive and where are you not?
- What makes something ok or not to receive?
- Do you want to make any changes to your receptivity? If so, what are they?
I want to make one thing super clear despite what you believe or not.
You are inherently worthy of love simply because you exist.
Next week I’ll share tips for increasing your receptivity if you choose to do so.
Stay curious, friends!
photo credit: Free photo 2706506 © Dariusz Sas – Dreamstime.com