Treasure the love you receive above all. It will survive long after your gold and good health have vanished.
— Og Mandino
When it is hard to receive love for fear of the consequence of letting down your defenses, it might be that you are hiding behind cynicism, pride, or trying to remain too emotionally strong, so that you don’t have to face the possible hurts that loving might bring or facing aspects about yourself that you don’t like. It is important to learn to receive love and to appreciate that you are loved too, so that your own sense of self can be whole. Here are some thoughts to help you learn to receive love and how to keep it.
Trust people when they tell you that they love you. Whether it be an intimate relationship, a friendship, or a family relationship, it is important to accept the declaration of love at face value. If you are pushing aside the gift of their love for you because you are afraid that they do not mean it, then you prevent them from having the chance to prove that they do. It also might push them away from you, so that if you change your mind it may be too late.
Stop fearing loss. A common reason for not being able to receive love is prior experience of losing someone you loved, whether it was from death, a break-up, or for some other reason that has scarred you. If you spend all of your life pushing aside love given to you on the off-chance that the person offering it might withdraw it, you will always feel cynical and unsure, which is not a comfortable or happy place to be. Instead, embrace the love that they are offering and go with the flow, expecting those who offer you love to stay around.
Love yourself. This might be the hardest step of all but if you don’t love yourself that much, receiving love is impossible because you don’t believe that you deserve it. If this is the case, start working on why you can’t love yourself so well, including seeking help to explore the issues involved if needed. Remember that every person is special and that you are very deserving of love.
Let love in and don’t block it. Simply open your heart, live in the moment and cherish the fact that other people care so deeply about you that you are connected, needed, wanted, and included in the affairs and lives of others. Being open and receptive to the love from others can be learned with practice, provided you don’t let cynicism and toughness take over. Let down some of those defenses and pride and let others know that you enjoy their deep care and support for you. And forget about keeping score; love others even if it is not reciprocated. As one large human family, it keeps going around and we receive it back again anyway.
Beware the voices of societal negativity. Social conditioning has a habit of making us feel wary of being effusive about and openly accepting of compliments, generosity, caring, and kind acts, lest we be seen as greedy, prideful, or selfish. Do not push aside the caring, wonderful things people have to say about you just because of such negative overlays; be appreciative and embracing of the love given out by others in all its forms. To do otherwise is to block receipt of love.
Show love. Receiving love is also about expressing love. Kiss your spouse and children, hug your friends, compliment your colleagues, say friendly and complimentary things to the grocery store clerks. Do this regularly.
Watch the experts at receiving love. Children are expert at receiving love because they accept what is said at face value and view receiving love as natural. What is also natural is that being able to receive love creates a balance in which you give and receive in equal measure. Take note of how children manage this beautifully – they ask for help when needed, they give help when asked. They offer compliments without a thought and they accept at face value the compliments that they are given. Re-learning what was once innate for you can restore a lot of happiness and trust in your life.