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By Joanna Kleovoulou, Clinical Psychologist

Be it Mother’s Day in a few days, or your birthday pending, or perhaps no specific celebration, but just someone giving you a nice compliment. How easy and open are you to receiving?

Think back on a time someone gave you a gift, whether a physical present or a gift of love like a compliment, their affection or quality time. Instead of being thrilled, thankful and accepting, what often gets stirred up in the back of your mind, “Will I be able to give back in equal measure? or “What does this person want?” or “Does this person really mean it?” ” Am I missing something?” Leaving you feeling doubtful, mistrusting, anxious and judgemental towards the giver and towards yourself – destroying what was meant to be a beautiful gesture completely.

So why is it vital to your overall well-being to have the ability to receive gifts of all forms? To stay psychologically healthy is to know how to fill your emotional cup. Not being able to receive can leave you feeling internally empty, which is like a cancer eating away at your self-esteem and sense of worthiness in the world, which is the basic foundation to building a healthy and solid mind-frame to live with vitality, wholeness and to feel you matter in the world. It is in being aware of the shame we all carry and in our ability to recognise our vulnerability, and giving permission to feel it, rather than supress or numb it. It is in the belief that we are loveable, and worthy no matter what we have done or not done in the world; and that we belong and have a place in the world.

Dr. Brené Brown (author of The Gifts of Imperfection), shares what makes people so capable of both receiving and giving love. Dr. Brown states that the feeling of shame plays a big part in relationships and can cause many problems in giving and receiving. “Shame is this feeling we get that something is wrong with us and that somehow we are flawed or inadequate in a way that makes us unworthy of a connection with other people,” she says.

To counteract shame, is to stop shutting down and learn to receive with openness, fully accepting the good gifts that come. Be aware of your capacity to give as well, because if it is hard too for you to give without judgements or holding back in fear of rejection or judgement, the same dynamics will be holding you back from receiving. Start by giving yourself permission to compliment yourself with a part of your body or quality that you think is great. We all secretly know what we are good at or what physical characteristics are smashing, about do not admit to it in fear of being vain or perceived as being arrogant or even fear judgement from others. Thank yourself repetitively for this gift, until you find your way to a space of acceptance. Once you begin to givepermission to accept your own gifts, you give permission to receive wholeheartedly a gift from someone else.

And the real reward behind accepting a gift, is the LOVE that lies beneath, leaving you with hope of what you are meant to have and how many gifts are just waiting for you to receive them, keeping you full.

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