I recently sent a text to my mother-in-law, thanking her for how well and unreservedly she has loved me since I joined her family. Her response was simple: “I’m so grateful that you accepted our love!”
As I reflected on her words, I realized that this simple sentence has profound implications for our day-to-day lives and relationships.
Everyone wants to be loved. That’s a basic, undeniable fact of the human existence. I would venture to say that another irrefutable fact of the human existence is that we all, at one point or another, have felt unloved.
That text from my mother-in-law got me thinking. What if we have patterns, behaviors that we’ve ingrained so deeply into our psyche that we don’t even recognize them anymore, that are blocking us from being able to accept the love that others want to extend to us?
These “love-blocking behaviors” are just as common a part of our existence as our need for love.
We all have habits, whether they are conscious ones or not, that prevent us from fully accepting the love and support that others truly want to extend to us.
Here are a few habits to watch out for:
Self-flagellation / poor self esteem
When you think poorly of yourself, it’s hard to believe that anyone would think highly of you. You find yourself dismissing the kind things other people say about you. Even worse, sometimes those words actually make you hate yourself even more, because in your mind you’re nowhere close to living up to the opinions that other people have formed of you. You feel like you’ve let them down, which is just another example of what a terrible person you are.
This can become an ugly, vicious cycle. The more love and kindness people show to you, the more hate you pour on yourself because you don’t think you’re deserving of their good opinions.
You must learn to love yourself for who you are – flaws and all. Only then will you be able to accept that others can love you, too. (Tune in on Thursday for more tips on how to do this.)
Have you ever met a hypercritical person? My guess would be yes. It seems that everyone knows at least one person who always seems to be unhappy, who’s always insisting that something hasn’t been done to their exacting standards.
This type of attitude will suck your ability to accept love faster than a bat out of hell. When you receive a kind text message, all you’ll see is the awkward phrasing or bad grammar. If someone surprises you with a gift, you’ll be upset that it wasn’t exactly what you wanted. An apology will be dismissed because it wasn’t deemed sincere enough.
For hypercritical people, the actions of others are simply never enough. And yet, in their opinion, the problem lies not with themselves, but with all the people in their lives who simply can’t seem to get their acts together. Beware of becoming this kind of person. Make the effort to see and appreciate the thoughts behind the gestures, even if they aren’t executed the way you would have liked.
I’ve written about toxic stories in the past. It is such a common problem, however, that I think it bears repeating. Toxic stories are internal stories you tell to yourself that you’ve become convinced are true. Unfortunately, far too often they are not true, but rather distortions of reality that negatively color your entire worldview.
One of the most common toxic stories is the victim / villain story. This is when you have convinced yourself that you are the helpless victim, while someone else in your life is the evil villain bent on destroying you. Every interaction you have with this person is colored by that perspective. Even if they do something kind for you, your immediate assumption is that they must have some ulterior motive.
In this way, any attempts on their end to show you kindness will be met with disbelief and resistance.
It’s not bad to desire love and acceptance. We’re wired for that. Just be careful that your actions or thought patterns are not blocking the efforts of the people in your life to give you those things!
Are you ready to take the next step? Check out my new course: 30 days to significance