This week I celebrated my birthday, and traditionally, I've loved that day -- June 2nd. I have very happy memories going way back, of celebrating this day with dear friends and family. One of my fondest memories is of a wonderful party for my 18th birthday given by my dear friend Nan in her garage (because the outdoor party was rained out). I felt treasured and very happy on that day, even with the heavy downpours and dampened festivities, because I felt the true love of my friends.
It's wonderful to experience deeply the love and appreciation from others, and to receive and hear messages that people reserve only for special occasions like birthdays.
But I've found too that sometimes, soaking in these loving messages -- really taking them in, down to my toes -- can be challenging for me, and many others have shared that they have this challenge too.
Why is it hard to truly embrace and accept (and be healed by) an outpouring of love, appreciation, respect and gratitude from others?
I believe there are 5 key reasons we keep ourselves from truly feeling love, respect and appreciation -- why we block ourselves from letting it in, and healing from it.
Here are the top five reasons we stop ourselves from soaking in love and appreciation:
#1: We have grown distrustful of what people say to us, especially if it's kind.
Even when friends, colleagues and family share beautiful sentiments about us, many of us have grown distrusting and skeptical of what people say, and find it hard to believe people are being truthful when they're being highly complimentary. Sadly, we wonder, "Why are they being so nice - what's in it for them?"
#2: We keep ourselves so busy and distracted in life, that we fail to give ourselves the breathing room to inhale and soak up positive emotion and love.
Being over-the-top busy every minute of every day is a true disease today in our society that affects millions of people. We run round and round like hamsters on a wheel, only to come to the end of each day with no time for real rest, or to contemplate our blessings, and acknowledge what we're grateful for. This pertains to love as well - many of us are stingy with ourselves, our time and our ability to take in love.
#3: Deep down, we don't feel worthy of this love, or comfortable "holding" it, so we deflect it.
So many folks I work with and know have been trained NOT to love themselves. Their parents or authority figures encouraged them to be blind to (and neglectful of) their own magnificence, beauty and amazingness. If we don't believe in our own extraordinary qualities, then external words of love and praise simply don't get through.
#4: Some of the hurts we've experienced from the past can be like bottomless pits that won't be filled, even when love is pouring in.
In conducting therapy and coaching with thousands of people over 11 years, I've seen firsthand (and lived it) that some of the hurts we have remain open - like deep, unprotected wounds that won't heal. These wounds are like bottomless pits - love and kindness may pour in, but the wounds don't close and don't fill in until we take proactive measures to heal them.
#5: We're so used to love that's "conditional" - meaning, that we've learned we have to bend ourselves in half and do back flips in order to earn "love" from others - that we don't know what to do with beautiful, unconditional love that comes our way.
Most of us have been trained that, in order to be loved, we have to be pleasing - we have to do what others want us to do, and avoid getting in the way, and making "trouble." But real love doesn't depend on our pleasing others. Real love is unconditional, and we're not used to how that feels.
Today, I'm committed to soaking in all the love I'm receiving. And I'm determined to hold and savor this love and appreciation every day of my life. Not just my birthday.
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How about you -- can you feel the love, appreciation, respect and gratitude people have for you, and can you bring all of it forward in your consciousness every day of your life, even when it's not your birthday or a special occasion?
I hope you can. Please share below what you believe holds you back from feeling loved and appreciated in your life and work, and what you can do about it today.