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you suck at receiving, my love.


So, last night, my friend Cathy and I had dinner. I noticed that she had a different hair style – she had highlights and it looked just great. When I complimented her, she said, “Oh no, it looks awful, and I am wearing it pinned back so you can’t see my grey.”

I insisted it looked wonderful and she looked fantastic, and she countered with how much weight she had put on recently.

When I told her she was totally hot, she countered with how she can’t even work out anymore because she is so out of shape.

Hard as I tried, my compliments could not find a landing pad in Cathy. They bounced off and bounced out.

Sound familiar? Most women just cannot receive a compliment. We brush them away, push them away. Especially when they are true.

I have been reading Shonda Rhimes’s book, The Year of Yes (which is a totally great read and you should grab it). In it, she describes going to an Elle magazine awards dinner, celebrating women in television. She was listening as Robbie Myers explained why each woman was chosen to be honored for her incredible accomplishments, and watched as each woman who was praised—herself included—shook her head no, as if to say, “Not me!”, ducked her head with embarrassment, covered her face with her hands, or laughed it off.

What’s up with this, sisters?
Are you noticing a trend?
Our ship comes in, but we can’t enjoy it.
We finally get the front seat on the bus, and we still move to the back.

We suck at receiving.
We can’t take it in.
We have no known way of letting in all the hard-won rewards that we actually deserve.
We are so blocked that we push it away, trash it.

And it goes beyond deflecting praise.
There are so many ways a woman’s receiving block can rear its head.

Take Carol. Last year, she married the sweetest, nicest, kindest man who loved every inch of her, and said a big yes to taking on the parenting of her 3 kids and raising them with her as his own. Beautiful. But now, she’s pushing him away. The nicer he is to her, the more repulsive she finds him. She thinks she wants to be close to him, but as soon as they have time together, she just shuts down and pushes him away. She gets this feeling like she’s suffocating and wants out, not because he is so bad, but rather because he is so good—too good, and she just can’t handle it. No man has ever treated her so well. And all she wants to do is run away.

Or my pal Audrey. Her kids went off to college, and instead of taking in the space and the freedom to truly expand for the first time in her adult life . . . instead of taking in that freedom and turning her attention inward . . . she elected to move her elderly mother out of a fantastic care facility, and into her own home. What? She gave away her moment of freedom, gave away her time, her space, her reconnection with her husband. She wants to be everything to everyone, and is avoiding giving the same attention to herself. As a result, she secretly feels resentful.

And let me tell you, I’m not immune to this either. If I’m not vigilant, and awake, and hitting the tools – I’ll start destroying good things. Upper-limiting.

Women know how to give.
We know how to over give.
But we have no idea how to receive.

We have a serious crimp in our receiving hose.
And where we go, when we hit this crimp, is we blame ourselves, like Cathy, or blame others, like Audrey and Carol.

I often tell my students, “Unacknowledged good turns to sh*t.” When we don’t take the time to deeply receive—notice and celebrate the goodness—we end up emotionally constipated. We’ve got no more room to let in more good.

This isn’t terminal, even though it feels that way.
When it comes down to it, we have a love problem. A self-love problem.

We have such pitiful, paltry love for ourselves that when we get gifted with a big love bomb, we blow up instead of expand. Why?

Your capacity to receive love is only as vast as your capacity to love yourself.
It’s kinda mathematical, really. We can’t receive any more love than we have, inside, for ourselves.
And the less love we have for ourselves, the more we will feel victimized and disempowered around our circumstances.

Receiving is a muscle.
You use it or lose it.
And most of us were never taught to use it.

We came from women who pushed away compliments, who expected that life was about sacrificing for others, who never knew they had a right to their seat at the banquet table of life.

The problem with correcting the problem is that the problem feels normal, and the correction feels….awkward.

Strange. Silly. Selfish.

But, actually, isn’t it more silly to not be able to receive a compliment? Or push away love or time or space that wants to come into your life?

The trick is to notice.
Notice your discomfort at a compliment. Notice when you feel a sense of discomfort at having more time or space or love than you have had before. Notice how awkward it feels to be loved and appreciated.

If you’re seeing signs that it’s time to flex your receiving muscle, I’ve so got you:

7 Tips, to Expand Your Ability to Receive

1. Decide that the next time someone gives you a compliment, you are going to respond with: “Thank you, it’s true!”

2. Every time you pass a mirror, give yourself a wink and say, “I deserve this.”

3. Brag every day. The more you swim in the waters of your own accomplishments and the gifts in your life, the more you will feel deserving.

4. Express gratitude every day. A thank you note, a call, a gratitude list, an extra large tip to a waiter. It will make you feel rich inside.

5. Do an act of anonymous good, every single day. Recycle everything you use, or take a trash bag when you walk on the beach or hike, and throw other people’s garbage away. Wipe that wet seat for the next lady in the ladies’ room. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line. You will take up more space, the more you give back.

6. Amp up your self-pleasure, and your self-care. This is the money shot. The more glorious care you take of yourself, the more glorious care you take of your body, the more the glorious world can take glorious care of you.

7. Inspired by Shonda Rhimes, Just Say “YES!”

This is such an important conversation for us to have as women. So many of us think it’s selfish—or arrogant—to let in praise and goodness. But that is ass-backwards, sisters.

The more you can receive, the more you can give.

Now, I want to hear from you in the comments – do you get as good as you give? Which of the action steps above are you going to try?

Mama Gena

p.s. Speaking of receiving, and gratitude, and digesting the good:

Just a few days ago, we kicked off this year’s sold out Mastery Program, with the most glorious assemblage of women, reclaiming their power and unwrapping their radiance, with enthusiasm and courage. I am still vibrating from the soaring altitudes we climbed together.

For those of you who were there, as well as all of you who weren’t, thank you for being a part of this movement. So grateful to share this work with you, and change this world with you.

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27 Comments / Leave a Comment

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  • Tinat May 29, 2016, 11:20 am

    I can totally relate to this. It is a constant struggle to accept a sincere compliment. I am training myself to say “thank you” and make no excuses.

  • Lauren March 26, 2016, 7:40 am

    I was just going through and clearing my sent email and realized that I had sent your post to a couple of people . I also realized that even though the posting struck a nerve at the time that I read it, and my intention was to follow up, I never did. I seem to get so distracted with the many tasks at hand that I can’t even remember to do that which would most benefit me. REALLY???. I start today!!

  • Rena March 19, 2016, 8:35 am

    Love the thought of every time I pass a mirror give myself a wink and say I deserve this. Winking starts today.

  • Marisa Bettina March 17, 2016, 6:18 pm

    I’m so grateful for this wonderful post, Regena! I brag that I made time for myself to actually sit for a minute & enjoy reading this email instead of trying to multi-task while driving, drinking coffee ect lol. This is such a beautiful approach to life & its inspired me to start filling my days with even more gratitude & more self care. I’m so grateful for the School of Womanly Arts <3

  • Amy Clark March 17, 2016, 9:23 am

    You are so profoundly on the money with this! I think historically women still feel “less than men” and have been taught “struggle” is a norm for us! It’s so crazy that we haven’t been taught to take what’s rightfully ours and claim our own love as it’s a doorway to an amazing life. We’re always looking elsewhere instead of right in our own hearts and body! Something so simple can be so profound! I’m trying to teach my daughters this every day and remind myself daily through my meditations how to love myself and be grateful for all of my creations!

  • Deborah March 17, 2016, 1:47 am

    Thank you Regena,

    Lately I have been sucking at this. I have been seeing all the places where I am not being given to. Reading your blog it struck me that instead of fighting this time I have sans job I probably need to see this as the magnificent gift it is to me and for me. Perhaps I need to savor the house and yard time -the time to literally put my house in order. That this is a huge gift that is being given to me.

  • Sg Rivky March 17, 2016, 1:02 am

    Thank you !! Thank You!!!
    Dear mama gena,
    This message was divine I saw it just when I needt it, I was having a very hard time with receiving , and I’m slowly getting so much better at it, finally allowed my self the designer bag I desired so badly for over 6 months, at bergdoff goodmans today,

  • Petra March 16, 2016, 11:38 pm

    Dear Mama Gena Regena,
    Thank you so much for thanking all of us who are not currently present in Mastery as well! Gratitude, it feels good to be included and acknowledged for our contributions larger and smaller…
    This blog is so pertinent and exactly about that place I often feel I need to start to explain this deeply spiritual work with others. And often I feel I so lack the right words at the right times to to explain precisely this bridge of ‘being able to receive fully’.
    Fave frame: ‘the anonymous act of doing something good’ is what I have been doing intuitively, but have not before linked to this theme of gratitude. It’s true though: my blessings have multiplied because of these actions.
    Next FF, admitting vulnerability and crucially: reiterating the fact that practice is where it’s at, amen MG,
    With great love and gratitude, Petra

  • Tara Dixon March 16, 2016, 11:32 pm

    What strikes me about this post is the extreme level of GENEROSITY.
    I remember receiving this lesson in one of your upper level classes (Inner Circle) a few years ago. Thank you for sharing this golden lesson mapped out like a mathematical formula. My hope is that this sharing IS received, assimilated and put into action by women everywhere!
    I love and adore you Regena and can’t stop smiling thinking of you meeting President and Michelle Obama today.
    with gratitude-
    Tara Dixon

  • Sue Campbell March 16, 2016, 11:17 pm

    Yes I hear you loud & clear !!

  • Luz March 16, 2016, 10:35 pm

    Thank you mama Gena. Those words really hit me. I always thought I accepted compliments well but I realized that I could receive someone telling me that I looked good but could not accept any thing more deeper than that. I now come to see that I have accepted less than I deserved in my relationships and I will change that as of today. I only deserve the best and to be loved like I am the most valuable woman in the world. Thanks.

  • Liz Sortino March 16, 2016, 9:51 pm

    New relationship with a man who simply wants to make me feel appreciated & “make my life easier”. Even at the age of 48, newly divorced, I was struggling all day today to succumb and ACCEPT that I can be loved and appreciated. All these years of trying to be “Good enough” – I deserve this. I deserve to be loved.

  • anna d'Onofrio March 16, 2016, 6:21 pm

    Love receiving — my new tool–thank you Regena for introducing it to me. When i use it, I go so high I feel like flying. it’s truly magical and effortless and freeing. I have sooooo many examples. Often I say, “thank you, it’s true” after receiving a compliment and get giddy because I can’t believe I am saying it and it feels playful and fun and flirty. I have shared it with some of our couple friends and they report with a big smile they use it a lot and love it. Spreading the love and juice–learning from the master. Thank you Regena!!!

  • SG Audacious Alissa March 16, 2016, 2:56 pm

    Perfect words at the perfect time, Regena. I also just finished reading Shonda Rhimes’s book and LOVED it! The section where she talks about learning to take a compliment really resonated with me. I’ve done Mastery and am in Creation now and I STILL have a tendency to cringe when complemented instead of saying “thank you” (and smiling) or even better – “thank you, it’s true, how brilliant of you to notice!” For some reason I have an especially hard time taking a complement at work. And I’m good at what I do. So, today, when my boss sent me the draft announcement she had written about my promotion, I took a deep breath and added a few extra juicy bits to it, instead of editing it back to sound less grand. Thank you, it’s true. And thank you for reminding us with this post.

  • joanna March 16, 2016, 2:41 pm

    I think that we are scared of hearing that we are selfish. Yes. It is for many the end of the world! At the same time , we have the ability to RESPOND to this accusation, we can say: “I’m taking care of myself, it makes me feel good and this fills my cup. And I can only truly give if my cup is full. The better I feel about myself the better I feel about you!” or simply “no, i’m not” it may be enough to bounce back the attacker. (and isn’t the attacker -most often- the voice inside?)
    We are not selfish when we think good about ourselves : we contribute to peace and love. In and out.

  • Alejandra March 16, 2016, 2:34 pm

    I absolutely LOVED this. I actually enjoyed all tips and best practices. It´s all about enjoying myself, my presence, enjoying what surrounds me and what I have to give, which is a lot. Much hugs and appreciation to all!

  • SG Jules March 16, 2016, 1:40 pm

    Thanks, Mama Gena for the advice ! I read and re-read the blog and will apply. As always I laugh, it always seems like a game to me. I read the book “The Game of Life and How to Play it”…. Sure, I love games, I’ll play.

  • Patty the Pirate March 16, 2016, 1:15 pm

    This whole love note (disguised as a blog) that you just wrote WAS about me. I am in a place now where I am receiving so much and I am not feeling that I need to GIVE something every time I receive–like some kind of invisible scale will be tipped out of balance if I don’t give, um, tit for tat. Being myself is enough. Love you and this deeply spiritual work you do, Regena, and how it is wrapped in pleasure and fun!
    Patty B.

  • Lori Goldberg March 16, 2016, 1:03 pm

    Thank you Mama Gena,
    Your words of wisdom speak volumes.
    I have an arsenal of tools to support me to receive and still at time it is not enough. Not enough? That is a key for me. I hear the compliments and I do acknowledge them but there is a voice in there that says BUT I am not enough , if only I did this or got to that place then I can truly , deeply , with all my soul receive . That voice is not mine but I took it on at some young age. I have used techniques to connect to this voice and it is extremely helpful when I remember to do so. Updating old information and bringing it to the present is key. I do love myself and I am deserving and I can receive appreciation, love , kindness, from the external world. BRING IT ON! I just have to step out of the way….

    Quite a few years ago I had a birthday party so I could learn how to receive. All was going well until one not so close of a friend more a student burst into tears of gratitude for the positive influence I had on her art and I could not take it. It was too vulnerable and authentic and it was very uncomfortable for me. I totally get it now
    and I would not have a problem hugging her and feel that love and let it all permeate inside of me.

  • Jovan Breckenridge March 16, 2016, 11:49 am

    The best thing I learned last year is: To Graciously Receive is just as good as to Graciously Give. It’s hard to comprehend and it feels wrong but when you change how you see things, the things you see will change (RIP Wayne Dyer) – but this is the truest statement.

  • Suzanne Paschall March 16, 2016, 11:47 am

    A girlfriend sent me this post, because it resonates so strongly with research I’m doing for my Pink Notebook project, and she was right! I’m in synch with you, Mama G! I’m doing a poll right now on my site on What Kind of a Receiver you are! If you visit and you’re willing to share with your readers, I’d be so grateful! The research I collect is for a book next year called The Pink Notebook: Essays on Asking & Receiving.
    Thanks for your writing – my next stop is to pick up one of your books to add to my research for the book!

    • SG ABISOLA March 19, 2016, 4:20 am

      you don’t know me, and because of your comment, I got to know you in an odd way….. navigated to your website: and whoa, your research which is AWESOME! Keep going! Thank you for thinking of the pink notebook, it so resonates with me :))

  • Kris Freewoman March 16, 2016, 11:30 am

    Well, this is one big juicy subject! Thank-you Mama Gena for continuing to help us as women to forge forward with being the awesomeness that we truly are! I have been working on my “receiving barometer” , I call it, for quite a while. When I’m not aware, I will default into smallness and not deserving. I am COMMITTED to continuing my ability to receive and know that it is a lifetime journey. I am willing to accept ALL the goodness, sweetness, JUICINESS, love and FUN life brings my way and that I create. Congratulations on your success with your Mastery group. “wink” You deserve it! I look forward to winking at myself in the mirror, getting this book called Year of Yes and expanding my capacity to receive even more. Yeee Haaaa!!!! Love, Kris Freewoman

  • Karen March 16, 2016, 11:25 am

    It’s true. I used to be terrible at receiving compliments, whether professionally or personally. I’ve gotten better (particularly with respect to professional compliments and praise because I AM really good at what I do and I’ve learned not to shrink from my abilities and/or accomplishments). But personally, I still need work. I do say thank you, but if the compliment (or complimentor) is profuse or what I feel to be exaggerated or over the top, I shrink away from it, or deny it. WHY? If someone thinks I’m beautiful, or have beautiful hair, a great smile, or that they admire me for raising my son on my own from day 1 (he’s now a paramedic/firefighter), or that they respect that I know who I am and don’t put on false airs or pretend to be anyone other than who I am, then I should be grateful for the acknowledgment and compliment whether I agree or not. Someone else’s opinion doesn’t define me to be sure, but when someone takes the time to give a compliment or praise, then there’s no valid reason not to accept it. Not deny it or shrink away.
    Good point Mama, as always, and food for thought. We rock, and there’s no reason not to agree with the world when it confirms that fact …

  • Julie Fedeli March 16, 2016, 11:07 am

    Thank you for ALWAYS delivering the perfect words that I long to hear! RECEIVING! Surrounded by so much goodness and love – and I am opening, opening, opening to take it ALL in… We deserve all goodness ALL the time!
    I LOVED and was inspired by Shonda Rhimes’ book too! Dear Mama Gena I know you are having a MAGNIFICENT BIG FULL YES experience TODAY at the WHITE HOUSE! You are a Goddess Extraordinaire holding hands with all of us creating more awesomeness in our lives – and claiming our place – radiating our beauty! BEAM IT OUT TODAY BABY!

  • Katie Smith March 16, 2016, 10:57 am

    Great reminder today and I will check out this book. I typically don’t have a problem saying Yes and receiving but what I am noticing is how often I say YES or discount the subtle voice inside myself. I am working the YES deeper to say YES to that which is not being said outside of me but inside of me – my inner guidance to play in a bigger platform, take more risk and get out of my own way. So today I am saying yes to a new computer, new database management system and YES to setting up the infrastructure to take my work to a bigger audience!!!! YES YES YES!!! Thank you!

  • LINDA RESNICK March 16, 2016, 10:43 am