Because I believe that it’s our natural state to love (and be loved) unconditionally and without restrictions, I was surprised when I recently researched how people let others into their hearts and discovered that everybody has different rules about who they let in, and that many put parameters and restrictions on receiving love.
For instance, one person I asked told me that she didn’t open up all that much because “people might leave.” That person, even though she’s very self-aware, had put a restriction on what she would allow so she didn’t have to face the pain should something happen, or the friendship end, or someone leave her life.
This was a variation on a theme that emerged during my research: some people can be very open and energetically let people in, whereas others define themselves as very private and remain locked, restricting how much love they let in (and conversely, how much love they give).
Obviously, letting love in assumes there’s a foundation of safety, trust and love, as you wouldn’t let into your heart somebody who’s abusive or untrustworthy or has ulterior motives. If someone in your life is genuinely honest and loving and truthful, can you sense how open you are with them… or do you have conditions for receiving love? If a given person loves you unconditionally and completely, do you know it? Do you accept all of it or do you just let a sliver in?
One way to determine whether we are cutting off the love we receive is simply to examine our friendships and relationships. Looking at individual relationships and reflecting on how close they are and how much we feel we can share of ourselves gives us a good starting point for assessing the love we let in and the love we allow ourselves to express.
And if we find that we’re holding back a part of ourselves, something I encourage people to do is to find where the limitations lie and where they feel vulnerable. Once we know our limitations and vulnerabilities, we can choose to stretch a little beyond them and heal the parts where that stretching feels unsafe.
Also helpful for opening up is making a commitment to loving ourselves more, whether through practicing self-care or by looking at our self-talk, both in what we think and what we say. Frequently people will be very unkind to themselves, saying, “Oh, that was stupid” or “I’m really bad at that” instead of the more positive “I’m really good at this piece, and I’m going to focus on improving the other parts.” It may be surprising to realize how much negativity we can harbor, but we can receive things far better if instead of that harsh self-criticism there’s a positive focus on what we’re good at, and how we’re going to improve on the areas of opportunity.
Generally people shut people out if they fear loss or rejection. If we can dismantle the rules we’ve created for ourselves and let people in, every day will feel like there’s far more love in our lives.
Do you let your friends and your relationships fully into your heart? Would you like to live with more love but need further guidance? Please call Julie at 206.354.7090 to schedule a session.
Photo credit: I was unable to find creator of the picture