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?
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.