We receive everything from information to love. It’s an essential skill that significantly impacts our personal and professional lives. What can we do to battle past barriers to receiving? How can we create lives that allow us to receive fully? Let’s acknowledge the transformative power of receptivity.
Barriers To Receiving: Forgiveness Is The Key
Many clients and I discuss receiving and the barriers we employ to keep ourselves safe. We learned to put walls up to protect our hearts somewhere in our lives. We realized we couldn’t rely on anyone and had to do it ourselves.
Early on, we learned that nothing in this world is free, so to accept something means to owe something, and most of us don’t want to feel like we owe someone.
Let’s talk about six barriers that prevent us from fully receiving all life has for us. I want to share some ways you can overcome these barriers and accept the good of this world. It’s there for you; you need to start allowing it. Forgiveness is a great start.
Vulnerability Exposes Too Much
So many of us have difficulty receiving what’s there for us because it requires us to be vulnerable. We must let our guard down and allow others to see our authentic selves. We may feel anxious about how we’ll be viewed, which is a barrier to receiving what we need from others and life.
What if we recognized vulnerability not as a weakness but as a sign of our strength? What if we allowed our vulnerability to bring us deep connections with others and personal growth inside ourselves? I’m not saying we need to open our deepest selves up to everyone–there’s a need for boundaries about what we share and with whom.
True vulnerability isn’t about sharing everything with everyone. That’s having no boundaries. No, vulnerability is discerning with whom you share and trusting them to hold your trust carefully. Doing this can change our thoughts, feelings, and relationships. We can let people get to know us without fear of what backlash may come.
So, how do we work through our fear of vulnerability? A couple of ways.
First, practice gradual exposure. Share some thoughts and feelings with a trusted family member or friend. Don’t go too deep if you don’t want to, but branch out with something they may not know. This may be scary because what you’re sharing is unique to you, and you are allowing someone else to decide how they feel about that. This is vulnerable on both parts and will enable you to build your comfort level as you share more gradually.
Second, embrace self-compassion. Don’t be harsh or critical of yourself; say nice things about yourself and show yourself kindness. Give yourself the emotional safety that comes with accepting yourself. Then, you won’t look to others for acceptance, and vulnerability won’t be as tricky because you’re comfortable sharing who YOU are.
Perfectionism Hinders Self-Reliance
When you feel like you can only rely on yourself but then demand perfection, you impede receptivity. When you don’t allow others to help, you’re showing insecurity about being inadequate, often fueled by the need for it to be done ‘right’. Studies show people with perfectionist tendencies think mistakes mean they are failures–and who wants to be a failure?
The truth is that failure is a part of life and allows us to learn and grow. Somewhere in our lives, the lie that if we messed up, we were mess-ups stuck, and we feel like we have to do everything to make sure it’s perfect so we are perceived as perfect and worthy.
Friend–you are worthy. Period.
Repeat that. You are worthy.
When you embrace imperfection, you can see failure for what it is–opportunity without judgment.
How far back did you realize you had some perfectionist tendencies? What was happening in your life at that time? Can you start making some small changes that would allow you to transform your thoughts? For me, it was realizing that “Done is better than perfect.”
When we feel it has to be perfect, room for frustration and self-doubt comes in. Instead, set realistic expectations that allow achievable goals and remember that it’s OKAY to make mistakes. You’re not superhuman, that’s okay. Allow yourself to have some trusted peers give you some input and GRACE!
When negative self-image thoughts come about, stop them. Repeat after me. You.are.worthy! If you don’t believe that, you won’t be able to receive genuine compliments, and you won’t be able to use constructive criticism to grow.
We all have feelings of unworthiness, but when we cultivate self-compassion and positive self-talk, we can transform those feelings.
Incorporate positive affirmations into your daily routines. Affirmations reshape your negative images over time and help bolster your sense of worthiness. I’m not talking about telling yourself you’re a super-model or future CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I’m talking about intentional, believable affirmations. Here are some of mine:
I am happy, healthy, and whole.
I allow myself to love who I am AS I am.
My self-worth is solid.
I treat my body with love and care.
You may need to start by being willing to do those things, and that’s okay.
The Business of Busyness and Overwhelm
Is it just me, or are we busier than ever? Being too busy and overwhelmed can be a significant barrier to receiving. Constant busyness and information overload creates a mental state that is too preoccupied to receive from others fully. Think of a water pitcher–full of water. What happens if you try to add more? It just pours out, and NOTHING else can come in.
To overcome this, we must set clear boundaries, prioritize self-care, and have moments of stillness and reflection. This isn’t just good for your brain but for your physical body, and it allows you to work toward what I call healthy capacity.
If you’re too overwhelmed or busy, you get depleted and have no capacity for others or yourself. Slowing down, taking a moment, and having boundaries allows you to live in a healthy capacity–room for you and others.
It’s a lie that we have to be as busy as we are; remember, “No.” is a complete sentence, and if it’s more uncomfortable than hiding emotional discomfort with busyness, that’s a problem.
Carve out time for relaxation, self-care, work, friends, and family. Daily. You can manage overwhelm and make space for receiving when you have a clear schedule. When there are too many things on our plate, our brains are muddled up. So, do a Brain Dump of all your responsibilities and must-dos. Get those on paper, and sort through what is essential and what’s not.
Additionally, consider some mindfulness techniques. Meditation and deep breathing in your routine can happen anywhere and can give your whole nervous system a break!
Being Close-Minded or Hard-Headed Is The Enemy
We are who we are, right? Wrong.
We are who we choose to be. If we’re too stubborn or closed-minded to grow and see alternative viewpoints, we won’t really receive anything other than echo chamber chatter.
A rigid or inflexible mindset makes us lose out on so much. A growth mindset allows us to overcome our stubborn insecurities and move toward growth and healing.
When forced into fight/flight/freeze situations, we close ourselves off from creativity and innovation because we’re just protecting ourselves. Maybe this was learned growing up, or perhaps it’s how you have had to be as an adult, but it leaves no room for growth and meaningful relationships that bloom.
So, how can you battle stubbornness and closed-minded feelings that hinder receiving? Just look at where they exist. Did you learn them? Did you develop it from your current relationships? Is it who and how you want to be in life?
Seek out diverse perspectives. Practice active listening. Tell yourself that mistakes are learning opportunities and be willing to let them be so. Actively engage with people with different viewpoints and backgrounds to challenge your assumptions and develop a mindset that gives space to others. This encourages continuous exchange of ideas, and that leads to receiving personal and professional enrichment.
Getting Past The Past
Past experiences when you were betrayed, disappointed, or traumatized build emotional walls around you. They protect you and prevent you from those things happening again. They also prevent you from receiving what is good, pure, and positive.
Acknowledging, supporting, and forgiving those wounds is crucial; seeking professional help is so important. You need to trust in yourself and others, which will likely happen gradually because trust starts with ourselves.
When we admit we’d like to trust others and feel vulnerable, that’s HUGE, but taking small steps is the way to go. It takes time, consistency, empathy, and clarity, and it means we make no assumptions. Working on our childhood wounds and taking responsibility for our actions is where forgiveness work can transform, and gradually building trust with professional support can give coping strategies and tools to do so.
Receiving requires courage, introspection, and the desire to grow. Knowing what hinders that receptivity, we can overcome barriers to receiving and unlock new levels of personal development, connection, and creativity. This lets us lead more empowered, enriched, interconnected, and fulfilling lives.
The best part is that the journey starts with you, patiently and with self-compassion, deciding to break the barriers, take the time, and receive all the world has to offer.