I can’t tell you how many people come into my office to discover that they have a complete inability to accept compliments and/or be on the receiving end of nice gestures. If this sounds familiar, I’m telling you that there are people out there trying to do nice things for you and you are completely ‘missing the boat.’
You may, a) be unaware of the courteous things people try to do for you, or b) perceive people’s niceties as annoying. One of my clients told me how annoyed she was with her husband because he was “obsessed” with making pasta the way that would most satisfy and please her. “Just make the frickin’ pasta already,” she’d say. Upon understanding that this wonderful woman was a caretaker unable to receive care from others, I called her out. She was in agreement that her annoyance was a manifestation of the fact that her body was blatantly rejecting her husband’s care for her. Essentially, she was metaphorically castrating him by discarding his gestures. She could not see that her husband was being the caretaker she’s always wanted but felt undeserving of. Needless to say that her homework assignment was to document when and how she would reject her husband's care. She was instructed to identify the care, let it in, and appreciate his effort. Put plainly, she was instructed to receive. As time passed, she was asked to do this with, not only her husband, but her friends and family members as well.
Due to past wounds and experiences (that need to be discussed and emotionally processed in therapy), some believe it's safer to love than to be loved. It's safer to care, than to be cared for. It's safer to give, than to take. This way, you are always in control and you don't have to worry about people potentially (and sometimes inevitably) letting you down. But, in always doing the loving and the caring and the giving, you cut off your relationships at the knees. People around you will be made to feel inadequate or incompetent if you don't LET THEM LOVE YOU!
Today’s take home message: When you avoid the care someone wants to give you, you disallow their love and their desire to show you their love. They, in turn, feel bad and believe that there is no way to please you. They may even distance themselves from you to the point of eventual relationship rupture. So, LET IN THE LOVE, ALREADY! It’s for your benefit, your partner’s benefit, and for the benefit of your relationships, friendships, and family connections.
Anna-Maria Tosco, or our Sassy Psychologist, has two masters degrees in the field of psychology and has studied and worked coast to coast. She has worked in both psychiatric and community settings in some of Montreal's most respected healthcare organizations and institutions, and has also given a variety of talks and workshops on neuroplasticity, meditation, and uncovering barriers to love.