Facing the Fear of Receiving

The fear of receiving resonates
in the deepest levels of the psyche.
To receive is
to let life happen,
to open to grief and loss,
to open to love and delight.

—Marion Woodman*


Have you noticed how uncomfortable it feels to receive?

From simple compliments like, “You look beautiful in that color,” to big opportunities to receive such as a promotion or a generous offer from a friend, women often shrink back, defend, and even reject what is offered to them.


We struggle to receive because receiving feels vulnerable, frightening, and out of control.

The fear of receiving may show up in your life as control or micro-managing. Receiving may evoke emotions in you such as shame or unworthiness.

Because female bodies are biologically designed for receiving, physical/sexual receiving is both the source of deep pleasure and meaning (for example, new life is conceived), and a source of fear and anxiety rooted in the ever-present threat of sexual violence.

The irreconcilable paradox of the physical/sexual body as the source of pleasure and pain perfectly illustrates why women struggle to receive.

To “let life happen” is the deepest form of receiving. It’s about letting go, and surrendering. We can’t stop life from happening, so what might it feel like to release our grip, and allow what is to be?

Reflecting on the way receiving opens us to grief, loss, love, and delight, reminds us that we can’t limit receiving to what is wanted and reject everything else. If we are only open to receiving when what is received matches what we want, we block the flow of experiencing the mystery, the messiness — the wholeness — of life’s experiences.

Invitations for your reflection, exploration, and action:

  • Am I afraid to receive?
  • Reflect on the last time you felt most open to life’s experiences. What were the conditions? For example, are you more open in a certain geographical place, or with certain people, or when you are engaged in certain activities? Your answers to these questions provide valuable information about how you can expand your capacity to receive.
  • What is the cost to me of not being able to fully receive what is offered or given?
  • What one small step can I take to expand my capacity to receive?

Choose one of more of these invitations and spend some time journaling, speaking, drawing, singing, or moving your responses through the body.

I would love to hear your reflections and takeaways in the comments below!💙

© Vicki Tidwell Palmer (2021)

Coming Home to Myself: Reflections for Nurturing a Woman’s Body and Soul (©1998)
By Marion Woodman and Jill Mellick
(Reprinted with permission)

*This post is from the Coming Home to You Series. Visit this page for the backstory of the CHTY Series.


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The deepest experience of the creator is feminine, for it is experience of receiving and bearing.”

Rainer Maria Rilke