Every week, I unearth and interpret the life stories of more and more divorced women as part of my new Prepare to Be Loved program. Many patterns have been emerging, and today's post is about one of of the big ones.
Women wonder why they have felt so disrespected, so alone in their most important relationships, "having to hold the world on their shoulders on their own" -- lacking support in the most basic of ways.
A key piece of the puzzle is learning to receive: to receive love and positive attention, to receive praise and gratitude, to receive the kind of help and support that has been missing for an entire lifetime for many of the woman I work with.
Why do so many of us give until we're empty, and receive so little in return?
Part of the story is that, by giving, by offering, by trying to prove our worth in every moment, we're constantly leaning forward. When you think about it, this can be a posture of pushing. In many of our life stories, pushing and constant effort were ingrained at an early age. If we didn't do it, it wasn't going to get done.
The only positive reinforcement we received was from working hard and picking up the slack for others (often a parent). Or, a twist on this is that, no matter how hard we tried, the positive love and regard we craved never arrived -- so we just kept trying harder.
So, we went on to marry men who also consistently disappointed us. We waited for years to see them take action and do their part in the relationship. When that didn't happen, we stepped in to fill the gap. Years later, we realize that our partners may have chosen us because they knew that we would step in, and enable them to coast.
We were groomed for that role since childhood.
Learning to receive is about a different posture. One of sitting back and letting things happen. Creating space for someone else to step in and act.
As you adopt this new posture, people and things around you begin to change. You attract people into your life who are comfortable with a balance of giving and taking -- not just taking.
Here's one simple step that will give you a sense of this new shift.
During your day, notice when you lean forward. Notice when your body starts to contract in tension. Notice when that tension makes you feel that you should be doing something, that no matter what's going on, it's somehow your job to fix it.
Now consciously, stop leaning forward. Center yourself on top of your pelvis. Let your tailbone and lower back relax. Take several slow, deep breaths, from your navel up to your ribcage and then exhale back down to your core. Relax and breathe.
It only takes a minute to create a little space for someone else to act. If someone offers to step in, say yes. Allow it. Practice receiving. Don't resist. Don't say no.
Say yes. Say yes. Say yes.
Yes to life. Yes to kindness. Let it in. Change the pattern. Relax and let in the people who want to share with you, who want to give to you. They are there, if you sit back, take a deep breath and learn to see them.