When I first met my now husband Noah, who I affectionately refer to as “Walking Love” for his great ability to give love fully and freely, my love quotient – my capacity for receiving love — was the size of a pea. Which meant that although I had finally manifested a man into my life that could offer the love that I had yearned for in other relationships, I was unable to let all the love in. At times, he and his love were so much to take in, that my stunted capacity to receive love would become completely overloaded.
Sure, I could allow bursts of love in – hand holding, PDAs (public displays of affection), and his unconditional kindness and consideration felt so good to my love-starved heart. But there would always come a point where the love Noah gave reached a threshold that was way too much for me to receive and my internal system went haywire.
In these moments, even though my heart knew I had hit the jackpot of love, I did what any scared-to-death-of-real-vulnerability girl would do in this situation of love overload… find reasons NOT to like this man! Too bald, too many holes in his socks, not ambitious enough (by my over-achiever standards), whatever excuses my self-sabotaging subconscious could find to eject this love out of my life, and it found plenty to obsess about.
While I couldn’t see it at the time, the truth is that I was pushing out and blocking the very love my heart and soul craved. Why? Because I was scared to death.
It was like there was an emergency RED ALERT system that when Noah got too close, would trip a wire that activated a warning system that blasted, ‘Intruder on the premises! Security about to be breached!” Noah, because of his ability to offer love freely was about to get through walls that for many years, no man (or woman) had ever breached. He was becoming dangerously close to penetrating the deep layers of protection I had spent years building up around my heart to keep away any chance of being hurt. Until this point, however, I had no idea that these walls were there. A loving, smart, outgoing person with lots of friends and family, you never would have known either. My pea-sized love quotient at the time, unfortunately is about average in size.
We all build walls of protection – you, me, your sisters, friends, mother – because we’ve all been hurt. Our beautiful, loving, open hearts have at one time or another been tromped on, broken or betrayed and so our normal, and probably necessary action at the time, was to build walls, force fields, layers of protection around our hearts… resulting in the miniature, shrunken love quotients most of us walk around with. But there comes a time in each of our lives, when, if we truly want to experience love to the capacity we all yearn for deep inside, that we have to be willing to melt away the force fields, take down the walls, and slowly step forward to reveal ourselves, our hearts, our vulnerabilities, and our innocence to others…
opening up ourselves to RECEIVE more love,
which in turn allows us to FEEL more loved,
which then allows us to GIVE more love,
resulting in love quotients that grow to be as wide and vast and deep as the Grand Canyon.
Over the past 10 years, I have made a conscious effort to increase my ability to receive love. It has been my intention to create a life in which I am surrounded by love. This past month I celebrated my birthday, marking a decade of a commitment to self-love I made to myself, which I know is where all love starts. As I looked around my life and as I received ALL the love that came my way – from Facebooks, to phone calls, to celebrations – I felt like a Rockefeller of Love. Wealthy beyond wealthy in love. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving!
You too have the ability to increasing your capacity to receive love, to expand your love quotient, and like building any muscle, I recommend starting with smaller emotional practices and risks and building up over time, so that when the big kahuna of love walks in, you are ready to Receive baby!
Build You Capacity To Receive Love – Your Love Quotient
1. Start with Self-Love.
When you love yourself, no one can take love away from you. And the more you love yourself, the more love you will naturally attract in your life. These are facts. So take a vow, or several, of self-love. A good one to start with is, “I promise to give myself unconditional love and respect, always.” In my first book, Choosing ME before WE, I included the 5 vows of self love I originally took with myself – there is a chapter on each. You can also download the free Self-love Kit I created at www.ChooseSelfLove.com
2. Practice receiving small bursts of love, like compliments or random acts of kindness.
We’ve all done the dance when someone gives us a compliment to push the energy somewhere else. At our best we say ‘Thank you’ without fully receiving the love, and at our worst we discount the compliment, ‘Oh, this old thing? Had it for years.’ Or said, “No thank you” to a stranger who offered to do some small favor for us – like lift our luggage, let us go ahead in line, carry a bag, etc. These are all instances of blocking love. Reject love in small ways, and you block it in big ways. My friend Marci Shimoff, author of Love for No Reason, says it takes 20 seconds to fully receive a compliment. To increase your love quotient, when someone gives you a compliment, say “Thank you” and add on to it with what you love about what they’ve complimented you on. And next time someone offers to help you, say YES! Thank you. And receive the love.
3. Smile at strangers.
Practice giving small bursts of love and letting that love in by smiling at strangers. Sometimes they will smile back and sometimes they won’t. Of course, when they smile back, it will feel good. Stay with the smile and literally feel your heart open to receive the love, melting layers of protection. But even when the strangers don’t smile back you can increase your love quotient by staying with your smile, in your heart and redirecting that love to yourself so that the love feeling doesn’t go away. Each time you smile at someone and they don’t return the smile, you have an opportunity to teach your heart that you won’t die or feel utterly rejected if love isn’t returned from another.< 4. Create close, healthy connections with multiple people of your same gender & get real.
Women with women. Men with men. This is about opening up your heart to forming close, intimate and deep bonds – not just based on a shared history or because of shared work or child situations, but based on really revealing and seeing each other for who you truly are. Intimacy = Into Me See. I meet so many women, and I was one too, who don’t have the level of deep and vast love in their lives they crave because they don’t have deep, intimate connections with other women. They may have lots of friends, but those friendships are not the deeply vulnerable kind. They may even have one or two BFFs that they let mostly in, but they wouldn’t be caught dead in a group of other women sharing openly and vulnerably. Taking part in sacred circles with other women will give your love quotient a HUGE quantum leap, because your heart will learn to trust again in ways it can only do with other women.
5. Identify your form of protection & let it go.
What is your form of heart protection? Have you hidden your heart away in some obscure location for safe keeping, built walls like Fort Knox to keep out intruders, or even let her shrivel up to seemingly fake death. When you can identify your mode of protection, you can start working on letting them go. Take a journaling or visualization adventure to find what is holding your heart hostage. Ask yourself questions like, “What is keeping my heart protected?” “What have been the incidents in my life that have caused me to protect my heart?” “What is my heart afraid of?” I’ve worked with clients who have rescued their hearts from refrigerators in the forest, uncovered them through layers of death shrouds, unlocked layers of steel walls, all kinds of wild adventures. Once you find what’s keeping your heart protected, thank the protection for it’s service and imagine taking your heart back by putting it in a safe place inside of you. As you work to increase your love quotient using some of the suggestions listed above, come back and check in on your heart protection and see the progress you are making in letting your heart, and yourself, out of captivity to be free to receive love fully!