“There is a secret about human love that is commonly overlooked: Receiving it is much more scary and threatening than giving it. How many times in your life have you been unable to let in someone’s love or even pushed it away? Much as we proclaim the wish to be truly loved, we are often afraid of that, and so find it difficult to open to love or let it all the way in.” –John Welwood
Most of us are not talented receivers when it comes to love. For the majority of lovers, their capacity to give love far exceeds their ability to take it in. Too much of the unrequited giving we do in the name of love is imbalanced with our ability to both remain open to, and truly feel, the love coming towards us. Unknowingly, we refuse the love we say we want when we complain about the packaging it arrives in.
Without intending to, we hurt our lovers when we blame them for what they are not- instead of embracing all that they are. We refuse the love and the lover we claim that we want when we justify our refusal in the storylines of anger, guilt and inadequacy. In fact, most people, when pushed to the edge of their refusal to receive love, will admit to what may be the most painful universal wound of all – the belief that underneath it all we don’t deserve the love we say we want.
Learning how to open up to love that is constantly around us, coming towards us, yielding to our asking hearts is perhaps the first and primary lesson we need to master in order to create truly fulfilling intimate lives. This is an inside job. It is founded on establishing your own worth as the center of your existence. I like to teach this process as a visceral form of meditation, where you imagining your body as a worthy container of love and then as you scan your interior and start to feel all the places that love leaks out your minds eye, you lovingly fill in all the cracks, the old wounds that keep you from holding onto the essence of our own loveablity. Feeling the way that our oldest emotional wounds literally live inside of us and prevent us from feeling loveable is how we discover how innately capable we are of receiving and transmuting the love that comes towards us.
In our most physically intimate relationships, this inability to open up to love can be witnessed in the significant and persistent incidence of sexual dysfunction and the collateral damage to our ability to orgasm. In fact, arguably one of the most damaging ways that our inability to feel love plays out for millions of people (both men and women), is in their ability experience pleasure. Sexual pleasure and the coveted experience of orgasm is one of the driving forces of our humanity, but whether from old pervasive messaging that debases our sexual drive, or from the bad choices most of us made on the way to figuring out our sexuality, we live within a deeply wounded culture of sex. Culturally, we swing widely between the prudish abstinence-only education we received as youth and the latest apps for endless hookups.
Having the courage to identify and share our own stories of sexual trauma is the first step to releasing them, which in turn will allow ourselves to forgive the wounded places in us and help us move towards opening up a path where we can be curious about receiving more sexual pleasure and building healthy relationships.
Exploring our sexuality from this perspective of receiving offers one of the most tender and gratifying practices available to us. This idea occurred to me not long ago when I was in the midst of experiencing my own passionate receiving. In those moments of being deeply aroused, I was able to understand in a visceral way just how deeply our erotic soul flourishes in this experience of receiving love. Not only that, but what usually keeps most of us from sliding down this fast-moving chute into a pleasure delirium is our inability to receive and feel worthy of the pleasure that lives in us.
Here are a few tips to dabble with when you are ready to take a risk with expanding your ability to receive love as pleasure.
- Begin by abandoning your need to control the outcome and allow yourself a few moments of naked vulnerability.
- Experience how unpredictable and healing human touch can be. Receie physical love from your partner. Pay attention to all your senses.
- Give yourself sexual permission to explore, and to receive. Sexual passion replaces our more organized, linear thought processes.
- Allow your capacity for pleasure to lead you into uncharted and evocative behaviors that you may never repeat even moments after you perform them.