“You look wonderful tonight”
“Humph, it’s the candlelight!”
We brush off compliments like bread crumbs, add ice cubes to the warmth of pure Bliss. All the while, diligently saying our affirmations, making wish lists, journaling, signing up for “Manifest your Soul Mate workshops”. And yet, when we get that great job offer in New York, meet an attractive person in a coffee shop, we flee as if pursued by the hound of the Baskervilles!
Giving is far easier than receiving for most of us. We stay in control. Get that warm fuzzy feeling which says that we are “good”. Imago Relationship theory posits that the people we pick in our relationships mirror the traits of our childhood care-givers.
It is in the eyes of our Lover that our original yearnings are reactivated. We attempt, in adult life, to get what we did not get in childhood from our parents. Through our filters, we see that our partners respond as our parents did and this recreates the original childhood frustration. In his book, Receiving Love, Harville Henricks talks about a “receiving deficiency” which contains, at its root, a memory of not feeling worthy of being loved. “The desire, which originally was free of conflict, is now contaminated by the caretaker’s rejection.” This might have been subtle, or overt.
“My mother used to say that I was greedy for love. I wanted too much,” my friend Sue shared over a latte at the Waterfront on Sunday. Sue deflects compliments and appreciation like a pro, and when her lover praises her, she sets the bar higher and higher, nothing is ever good enough – she says she doesn’t believe him. “He tells me what he thinks I want to hear.”
So we make an unconscious decision not to ask for anything, as we feel that to want is bad. Until we dismantle the inner drama from our childhood, we remain deprived – still hungry!
“The fear of receiving resonates in the deepest levels of the psyche. To receive is to let life happen, to open to grief and loss, to open to love and delight,” says Jungian analyst, Marion Woodman.
So take some quiet time today to review your life. Think about those gifts or acts of kindness you received in your past that were valuable to you. Replay the scene like a movie. How old were you? Who gave them to you? How did you feel? Allow yourself to re-experience and savour the good feelings connected to the gift and the giver. Notice your resistance, the voice inside your head. Check in with your body. What comes up for you?
So many of the little gifts we receive each day are engulfed in busyness and self-absorption. Like snow white feathers, they fall onto our path, and so often we hurry on, too hasty to pause, to pick them up.
Open your heart today, and notice these little feathers. The acts of kindness. Your partner brings you a cup of tea, your neighbour waves as you drive to the office, a cashier greets your presence with a warm smile. Attune to a new level of awareness as you experience the softness and abundance of The Universe. Experience the gifts you receive in every cell of your body. Notice acts of kindness and generous behaviour in your partner’s efforts. Encourage the giving so that you can learn that it is safe to receive.
Harry I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and the thing is, I love you.
Harry I love you.
Sally How do you expect me to respond to this?
Harry How about, you love me too.
Sally How about, I’m leaving.
(When Harry met Sally.)