It feels normal to avoid the bad things that could happen, doesn’t it? That just sounds smart. What might be more surprising is to notice how often you avoid the good things.
Imagine winning $100,000,000 in the lottery. Your first response is excitement, right? Just THINK of what you could do with that money!
But sit with it a little longer.
Pretty soon you’ll start to get uncomfortable. Thoughts begin creeping in like, “What if I lose my friends? What if people start just liking me for my money? What if I love that life and then lose all the money? What if I can’t have love AND money?”
The same thing happens with a great business opportunity or amazing feedback from clients. When something great happens, it brings up excitement, quickly followed by any issues of unworthiness we have.
THIS is why 70% of lottery winners are broke in 7 years. They end up worse off than they were before they won.
You can say that it’s because they didn’t know how to handle large sums of money, that they got carried away with what they could buy and vastly overspent, that they didn’t have role models, and on and on.
Yes, and there are people you can hire to help you with that. And you don’t even have to do math to check your bank balance. And we’re talking about 70% of winners!
I was talking with a friend recently who told me about something fantastic that’s happening in her life. My hope for her is that the situation challenges all her beliefs about her unworthiness, and pushes all her boundaries of receiving.
Receiving is way harder than it looks.
Researcher and best-selling author Brené Brown says, “If you ask me what’s the most terrifying, difficult emotion we feel as humans, I would say joy.” Yes, joy.
To feel joy, you have to receive love in whatever way is meaningful to you. Receiving makes us feel vulnerable because we immediately start fearing the loss of what we’re receiving. We also fear others’ judgment and disapproval.
The result is that we bat away good things – opportunities, praise, and even love like we’re one of the Williams sisters in a tournament match. Nothing gets past our defenses!
And we use our best stuff to do it. We get sarcastic, we minimize, we self-deprecate, we get angry, we contract, we ignore, and we walk away. AND WE DON’T EVEN REALIZE WE’RE DOING IT OUT OF FEAR.
We say, “That’s just how I am”, “I’m being smart”, “I don’t want to get my hopes up”. And all the while, inside of us there’s a longing, a loneliness, a space that’s craving to be filled with exactly what we’re pushing away.
It takes tremendous courage to let those defenses down and let the love and opportunities in fully. It’s also the only way to let our true self-expression and gifts out.
It’s a scary, vulnerable thing to do, and it’s the only way to be fully alive.
It sounds simple, but one way to let your guard down is to take slow breaths. Breathing deeply helps you stay present in the moment and in your body. It also means feeling your feelings. (Holding your breath or taking shallow breaths blocks your emotions.) This is a key reason meditation makes such a difference.
Another way to increase your joy and ability to receive is to practice gratitude. To do this, write down 5 things every day that you’re grateful for. Doing it mindfully and just before bed amps up the power of the exercise. Let yourself FEEL thankful as you write each one.
A study was done that showed that people who did this practice regularly not only described themselves as happier, but their friends and family said that they were more fun to be around. That’s good stuff for something that only takes a few minutes a day!
Let’s start now. In the comments section below, share 5 things you’re grateful for. I’d love to celebrate them with you.