Learning how to receive love with grace is more challenging that it may seem. Neuroscience has shown that there is often a biological component to being unable to feel the love that another offers.
Children who grow up in neglectful or abusive environments often have less active receptors for the neurotransmitters that communicate love. Expecting someone without love receptors to feel loved can be like telling someone to taste chocolate without being able to use their taste buds; they may be able to smell the chocolate and get some sense of how delightful it is but they would not really be able to taste the chocolate. Fortunately, new receptors can grow! With vigilance and patience an individual who lacks the receptors to feel loved can gain the capability that they were deprived of in childhood.
On another level, neglectful and abusive childhoods can cause us to believe that we are unlovable. Being unable to obtain love from our caregivers and in previous romantic relationships may make us terrified to believe that anyone could love us and therefore we shut down the ability to accept love from others.
Here are some strategies for increasing your ability to accept love:
1. Therapy- Finding a good therapist is essential in working through the self-defeating beliefs you may have. Also, the unconditional positive regard that a client-centered therapist will give you will help you to gain practice in accepting love.
2. Affirmations- Find a safe and quite space where you can get in tune with yourself. Repeat out loud “I am worth loving, I am lovable exactly as I am, I receive love with gratitude”; Repeat this at least ten times a day.
3. Audio or video guided meditations- You can find a variety of guided mediations on self-love and self-esteem online that will increase your ability to accept love from others.
4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy- CBT is a technique that a trained therapist can help you use to change your self-defeating thought patterns into self-affirming thoughts.
5. Emotional Freedom Technique- EFT is a tool that a therapist can help you use to further enhance affirmations and also to decrease anxiety and fear around love.
6. Reiki- Reiki is a hands on, gentle touch, healing technique that can open you up to enormous feelings of love.
7. Love Yourself!- Show yourself how much you love yourself! Give yourself flowers, get a massage, do something you love… learning to receive love from yourself (and give love to yourself) will increase your ability to receive love from others.