It didn't surprise me that she said it because I also feel that way. What stood out to me was the word “safe”. She didn't say “easier” or “nicer” she said “safe”. That means that to her (and also to me), receiving feels “unsafe”.
So what's up with that? It's true that I struggle to receive but I never really stopped to think about the emotions and physical reaction I have when I'm faced with receiving. When I think about it – it feels really uncomfortable, almost painful. I try to run away from receiving by brushing off compliments, offering to pay someone back or getting someone a gift when they did something nice for me. If I have nothing to give in return at the time, I just go over board on the “thank yous” until it hurts just a little bit less.
So I sat down and thought to myself, what does it mean to me when someone gives me something? I'm not talking about someone handing me the remote, I mean when someone has made a decision to give me something that touches my heart. It's a receiving of love.
Receiving love is VERY difficult if you are someone like me who has consciously or unconsciously decided that they are unlovable. The brain does a quick “this does not compute” moment. The dialogue goes something like this:
“Wait! You can't give me love because I'm unlovable and if you're giving me love then I must be loveable and that shatters the preconceived notion of who I am and now I don't know who I am – HELP!”
That's a pretty big internal battle to go through just because someone has offered to buy me a coffee. The size of the gesture doesn't seem to have an effect on the size of the internal imploding that receiving brings about – it's shattering every time. My realisation is that it's not the offering of love that causes me pain. The pain comes from the thoughts that arise within me when faced with receiving love. It's like a part of me screams “Dear god it's love! Run away least you be engulfed by it!”.
If someone offers to pay for lunch I'll offer to pay for the next one. That's my way of trying to diminish their act of love to an act of trade. Not receiving the love means my belief that I am unlovable can remain intact - providing a false sense of safety. The belief remains safe but how safe am I really when I think I'm not loveable? A belief is a thought you keep on thinking. The way to change your beliefs is to pick a new thought and start thinking that on a regular basis. The truth is, more than anything I want to feel loved and what better way can I show love to myself than by allowing myself to receive it?
So now that I've realised this about myself what will I do? Well, I'm not going to stop saying thank you. I might stop saying it 10 times in one email or in one conversation but I think a simple thank you at the time of receiving would be sufficient. If I feel compelled to show gratitude somehow then I might decide to hug. I'm a hugger from way back which really upsets the non huggers that I meet but ah well. I do try to gauge a person's interest in a hug before I go in but now and then, someone who 'doesn't do hugs' gets a hug from me. Hugs are an art form in my opinion. I've only learnt the true miracle of hugging in the last 4 years. Hugs that are fully embracing and heart to heart are really uplifting, loving and energy boosting.
What else might I do? I think may I just need to learn to be with and breathe through those really uncomfortable feelings of being loved. In doing so I think I wont feel so overwhelmed by receiving and may even start to enjoy it. I encourage all of you who can relate to my experience of being a non receiver to do the same. It feels great to give – don't deny that joyful feeling to the person who is giving their love to you. In receiving we give.
Bronwyn Bay (love receiver)