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Dissolve Barriers to Love

The ability to receive can often be taken for granted, but if this title caught your attention, you know that it's not always so straightforward.  Receiving love can be especially fraught with confusion and reactivity.  To dissolve barriers to love it's important to do at least two things:


  • Become subtly aware of your habits of turning away from love.


  • Engage in practices that help you strengthen your skills in receiving.


Self study and reflection is an essential part of the transformation process.  You can't change habits that you don't know are there.  It's not enough to simply notice that you dismissed a compliment.  Each time someone offers love, challenge yourself to get very specific in your reflection.  Here are some questions you could ask yourself:


  • What observable barriers were present?  That is, what could anyone next to you observe?  For example, in creating a barrier, did you break eye contact, physically turn away or step back, did you make a joke to distract, or begin to criticize yourself or the other person?


  • What happened on the inside?  What happened in your body?  What did you tell yourself?  What unconscious beliefs were operating in the background?  Are there any associated images or memories that come up with that person's offering of love?


  • What were the conditions of the interaction?  Where are you?  What were you doing just before?  Who else is present?


  • Repeat these same questions for the moments you were able to receive.



As you gather information by reflecting on these questions, you will be able to design and engage in practices that help to dissolve barriers to love.  Here are two basic guidelines in designing your own practices:


  1. The practice you design is mutually exclusive to the habits that don't serve you.  That is, you couldn't engage the old habit in the same moment you are engaging in this practice.


  1. The practice is easy to remember and simple to do.  If this is true, you will have a sense of lightness and confidence about your practice.



For example, let's say that in your reflections you notice that you most often have barriers to love when in a public setting.   In these conditions you often avoid eye contact and make jokes to distract from someone's offering of love, even if, it is a simple kind word or gesture.  With this information you might set up a practice like this:  


For the next week when you are at home you will make and maintain eye contact any time someone offers love.  You will notice the impulse to make a joke and simply say thank you.  Choosing to practice in a private setting will give you confidence and strengthen your ability to receive.


The practices above rely on a very critical piece that may need your attention before anything else.  If you know you have difficulty receiving love, then there is likely a barrier to recognizing love when it's present.  You may misinterpret loving words, receive a hug as "neediness", receive a gift as obligation, or simply fail to look up and notice a loving smile.  Changing this kind of barrier is helped most by feedback from others.  Ask your closest friend, your partner, or your therapist to point out any time they see love coming your way.  For example, as you tell your partner that your co-worker agreed to stay late so you could leave for vacation, your partner might suggest that that sounds like a gesture of love.


The unfortunate thing about barriers around any need is that as one becomes depleted regarding a particular need, an internal set of standards about the way the need must be met is put into place.  These standards may become more narrow and rigid over time, thus creating a vicious cycle of disappointment and depletion.  


Perhaps the simplest practice in dissolving barriers to love is to invite love to flow through you.  Without pushing or convincing yourself, invite yourself to frame love as something that simply is, rather than, something you get and give.  Concrete practices that open the door to this experience include:


  • Breath through your heart.

  • Gently focus on an innocent animal enjoying life.

  • Smile as you sit quietly and listen to sounds of nature.

  • Look at images that evoke love.

  • Everyday set your intention to live as the embodiment of love.


Practice

Take a moment now to choose one specific way you will turn towards love today.

 

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