Opening to Receive Love using EFT
The majority of us experience difficulty in truly receiving love from
other people deeply into our hearts. For many of us it may be difficult
to receive any positive emotions from other people.
For instance, think about when someone gives you a compliment... Does
the compliment touch your heart and make you feel warm inside? Or do you
get uncomfortable and dismiss the compliment in some way?
We may verbally object to the compliment, minimize it, or mechanically say "thank
you" without really taking in and feeling the compliment. Either way, we
have not received the positive energy from the other person. Sadly, this kind
of thing happens in many ways in our lives.
A more dramatic example comes from my weekly therapy
group. We sometimes close the group with an "appreciation circle." We
take turns hearing things that the other group members appreciate about us. The
goal is simply to receive and take in the positive energy.
Most group members
experience some difficulty in really taking in the appreciative statements from
the other members. Some group members even say that they experience so much
discomfort that they "hate" the appreciation circle!
On the surface, this seems so illogical. What
could possibly be bad or painful about hearing things that people like or
appreciate about us? One would think that hearing appreciations would just be a
good thing, giving us pleasure. However, that is clearly not everyone's
experience. Some people have even had the confusing experience of breaking down
crying when someone says something nice to them. Why would hearing something
nice cause us to cry?
Finally, the most dramatic example is that many people
find that they have a hard time fully taking in the love that they receive from
their friends and loved ones. There seems to be some kind of wall or barrier to
receiving the love.
The Downside of Not Being Able to Receive Love
There are a number of negative outcomes from not being
able to take in positive energy from other people. First of all, we are
missing the pleasure and nourishment that we could be receiving from the other
person. Receiving and taking in positive feelings (energy) from others feels
great and literally feeds us and recharges our batteries.
Also, the other person is missing out on the pleasure of being received.
It is very satisfying when a person wholeheartedly receives something that we give.
There is a sense of completion and wholeness and connectedness.
The receiver gives back in the receiving! On the other hand, there is a
feeling of disappointment and sadness when our "gift" is not
received. We can even feel rejected in that case.
The ultimate outcome of not
receiving and taking in positive energy from others is a feeling of
disconnection, distance and isolation in our relationships. This is
particularly poignant when the positive emotion that we are having a hard time
receiving is the other person's love.
So, what causes this difficultly in receiving positive
emotions and energy from other people and how can we heal it? There can be a
number of possible sources, but we will focus on a few of the more common ones
based on the previous examples. Ultimately, all sources of the difficulty in taking
in positive feelings from others have at their root the avoidance of some form of underlying
Negative Self Beliefs
Most of us have some negative
beliefs about ourselves based on childhood experiences. The negative
self-belief can be fairly narrow and specific, such as "I am stupid," or
more global, such as "I am unworthy of love or I am bad."
When the outside world
presents us with a positive message or experience that is in direct
contradiction to one of our negative self-beliefs (e.g. a compliment or
appreciation or expression of love), we face an internal dilemma. We
cannot take in something that does not match what we believe about
ourselves. Therefore, we will either retain the negative self-belief
and discard the positive message, or we will have to shift the negative
self-belief in order to take in the positive message. As you can
imagine, the second option is not easy, so we usually end up discarding
the positive message or not taking it in fully.
Without the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT),
shifting a negative self-belief is usually very hard. The belief has
been entrenched within us since childhood due to receiving the negative
message about ourselves many times growing up. We may have received
that message explicitly (e.g., "You're stupid!") or implicitly through
the way that we were treated. Fundamentally, those negative messages
represent an unloving betrayal by our caregivers, and there is a lot of
stored up pain associated with them.
In fact, the stored
up pain associated with the negative messages helps explain the
confusing phenomenon of sometimes crying when we hear something good
about ourselves. There are times, when we feel sufficiently safe and
trusting, where the positive feeling is able to get through despite our
negative self-belief. When this happens, it opens our hearts, and the stored up pain associated with the experiences leading to
the negative self-belief starts to come up and get released through
There is a
form of peer counseling, called Reevaluation Co-counseling, that makes
use of this phenomenon as its main healing technique. It works by
uncovering the negative self-belief and then having the client say or
do something that strongly, positively contradicts the self-belief.
This leads to a release of the stored up pain through crying or
expressing anger, fear, shame, and so on. The expectation is that if
the client lets out these feelings long enough, all of the stored up
pain will drain out and the negative self-belief will shift and be
If a person doesn't
understand all of this, then receiving positive messages can sometimes
be uncomfortable and scary. The person can feel the crying coming and
the underlying pain rising and may want no part of that. She or he does not
realize that this is actually a healing process and will instead try to
block it out. If you are with a friend who starts to cry when you say
something good to him or her, just reassure the person that this is a
good thing and encourage her/him to keep crying. This goes for yourself
can be used very effectively to heal negative self-beliefs so that one
can more easily take in positive energy from others. You can apply EFT
in a number of different ways in this situation. The simplest and most
straightforward way to apply EFT is to tap on the negative self-belief
For instance, if the negative self-belief is "I am stupid,"
you would start be assessing on a 0 to 10 scale
how true that statement "feels" in your gut, where 0 is completely
false and 10 is completely true. Presumably, this would be a high
number. Next, you would use as your set-up:
"Even though I am stupid, I deeply and profoundly love and accept myself."
You would then tap
on "I am stupid" at each point. Gradually, the negative self-belief may
feel less true. In that case, keep tapping until the feeling of the truth of the statement goes down to a 0.
If tapping directly
on the negative self-belief isn't sufficient in itself to clear it, you
will need to tap on the original painful memories
of receiving the message that you were stupid. Once you have cleared
those, you can
finish up by tapping on the belief itself (or you may already
be done at that point).
One of the
potential challenges in shifting the belief by clearing the original
memories is that the person may be very emotionally shut down and
feeling the feelings associated with those memories. This can happen
when we have a painful experience repeated many times, and we cope by
blocking out the feelings for our survival. It's intolerable to keep
feeling the same pain over a long period of time. Unfortunately, this
make it hard to tune into the energy disturbance to clear the
underlying pain through tapping.
In this situation
an interesting method is to combine the Re-evaluation Co-counseling
technique of positive contradiction with EFT to bring out the
underlying pain. For instance, if the person has some kind of "I am
bad" self-belief, one can positively contradict the negative
self-belief by having the person say things that s/he likes about
her/himself. For example:
"I really like that I am a caring person."
key here is to not just say the words but to say them
with a joyful facial expression and tone of voice. The facial
expression and tone of voice is more effective than the words for
getting past our defense and through to our hearts. However, using a
joyful facial expression and tone of voice can be challenging in this
situation, so it can take several
repetitions with repeated encouragements to say it ever more joyfully
the positive contradiction breaks through the emotional shutdown and
the underlying painful
feelings start to be released. Once this happens, you can go right into
tapping with or without saying any words. You can then just go with the
flow of whatever comes up, including specific feelings and memories.
It's easier to use this method with another person providing the caring
support and encouragement, but it can also be done alone. You just have
to keep reminding yourself to say the positive statement more and more
joyfully each time until it works.
The positive contradiction method
can be extremely helpful for getting at and healing the old pain
associated with the negative self-beliefs. Once the negative
self-beliefs are cleared, the positive energy can be received without
facing an internal contradiction.
The Lack of Positive Experiences Growing Up
Another situation that can make
it difficult to receive positive feelings from others is when we didn't
receive those kinds of positive feelings growing up. For instance, a
person may not have experienced much, if any, praise or encouragement
or love as a child. There would be, in that case, a well of pain around
not receiving those things. If someone were to offer us praise or
encouragement or love now, in order to take in the positive energy,
our heart would have to open, which would get us in touch with that
wellspring of pain. Again, we may find ourselves crying when offered
praise, encouragement or love now. Like before, this can feel very
and we may block out the positive experience instead of feeling the old
This can be worked with using
EFT in a number of different ways. One method would be to tap on
memories where the positive experience was painfully missing. These
would be times, in the above example, where praise or encouragement or
love was wanted but not received. If there are clear memories like
that, this can be a fairly straightforward healing experience with
tapping. You would just tap on those painful memories to clear them. It
might then be helpful to use the Choices Method to give oneself the
praise or encouragement or love that was originally wanted. For
"Even though Mom/Dad didn't praise me when I got good grades,
I choose to take delight in my accomplishments now."
(If you are not familiar with the Choices Method, search for that
phrase on the national EFT web site to learn about this useful
The healing process becomes
trickier when there are no clear memories of the painful lack of some
positive emotion. Rather, the positive emotion was never there to even
want. There was just the life-long lack. Since there are no specific
memories to deal with, it can be harder to figure out what to tap on.
You might try tapping on "even though I never received love," for
instance, but I have not found that to work too quickly. It's worth
trying (maybe combined with the Choices Method), but that approach
tends to be slow going.
Instead, the positive
contradiction method can again be used to get at the underlying
wellspring of pain, which can then be tapped on directly. If praise was
missing, then either give the person enthusiastic praise or have the
person give themselves the praise. The second option usually works
better. It's important to keep repeating the praise ever more joyfully
until the breakthrough happens and the feelings open up. You can then
tap on the upsurge of feelings. This may also lead to tappable buried
painful memories. Again, I would recommend using the Choices Method to
help fill in what was missing growing up. Once this pain from not
receiving the positive energy is sufficiently cleared, it will become
much easier to receive it from others as well as oneself.
Fear of Being Vulnerable
Let's discuss the
most poignant example of not being able to take in love from another
person. There are a couple of potential causes for this problem. One
cause is a feeling of unworthiness of being loved or feeling unlovable.
This actually falls in the negative self-belief category that we
discussed before and can be treated accordingly.
Another very common cause for
the difficulty in taking in love is a fear of being vulnerable. We
learned about love relationships from our original primary relationship
with our parents. If there was a significant amount of pain and/or
insecurity in those relationships, it may feel dangerous to let someone
close to us now. We may feel afraid of re-experiencing the same pain we
had growing up. This might have included being abandoned or engulfed or
abused or some other type of painful interaction with our
In order to
take in someone's love, we have to open our hearts to that person,
which gets us more in touch with our vulnerability and the possibility
of being hurt again. Subconsciously, we feel safer keeping the other person
at a distance. Unfortunately, the end result is not being able to fully receive the
other person's love.
The solution here is to use EFT
to address the original painful memories of feeling abandoned or
engulfed or other types of painful interactions. In addition, we can
use the method of trying to take in someone's love and tapping on the specific fears
that come up. Once these painful early experiences and current
fearful discomforts have been cleared, it will be much easier to fully take in
There are many possible causes
for the difficulty in receiving positive feelings from others, and we
have discussed some of the most common ones here. One of the common
themes in all of these examples is that the presence of underlying pain
makes it hard to receive the positive emotional energy because opening
to receive the energy would bring out the pain. However, this same
phenomenon can be used to facilitate the healing process. The very act
of trying to take in positive feelings will bring out the old pain that
needs healing. If the person really stretches to take in the positive
feelings from another person or from him/herself, the pain will come to the
surface and can be dealt with through tapping. Once this is done, the
positive energy can be received without hindrance.
Alternatively, if original memories can be found that are the source of
the pain, then they are the best things to tap on. Used in combination,
very deep and thorough healing can be achieved.
Not being able to take in
positive feelings from others is an unfortunate limitation, sadly
applicable to most people to a greater or lesser degree. The blocks to
receiving positive energy are, however, readily healable using EFT,
leading to a richer, more nourishing and connected life.
Expert EFT Practitioner, Trainer, Love Coach and Soulmate Attraction Mentor
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