“I Can’t Receive Love.”

By Dr. Margaret Paul
August 17, 2020

Do you have trouble giving and receiving love? You CAN heal this

Resistance to love, no love, love
Lindsay wrote during one of my webinars:

“I can’t receive love. Physically, not even a kiss or stroke of kindness. I was never told ‘you’re awesome, great job, you’re beautiful, you can do anything.’ Therefore it’s hard for me to receive love and feel worthy.”

Lindsay, it is very hard to grow up with no love. You are certainly not alone in this experience. Growing up without any physical affection or emotional support is a very sad and lonely thing.

However, your conclusion – that you can’t receive love because you weren’t loved – is false. I work with many people who were not only not loved, but who were very badly abused, and yet they are still capable of giving and receiving love.


Many of my clients believe that their past determines their present.

Do you see yourself as a victim of your childhood? Do you believe that your current inability to receive love and feel worthy is caused by what your childhood caregivers did, rather than by how you are currently treating yourself? This is a major false belief.

While low self-worth generally starts as a child, the fact that it may continue now is because of your own self-abandonment.

You have the opportunity right now to learn to love and value the little child within you who is desperate for love – for your love. You will not feel worthy of love, nor be able to give and receive love from others, until you decide to learn to be the loving parent to yourself that you never had.

You will not be able to open to and trust others’ love until you become a trustworthy loving adult to the child within you. Only when you learn to love and value yourself will you be able to open your heart to others and risk being hurt.


Opening our heart to love can lead to hurt.

Our heart can be hurt by others’ unloving behavior toward us, or by someone we love dying. The only way we can fully risk loving with an open heart is to know that we can manage the pain of heartbreak, grief, and helplessness over others’ unloving behavior and over painful events.

I would say to Lindsay, “It is not that you can’t receive love but that you won’t. You are choosing to protect yourself against pain rather than choosing to love yourself and share your love with others.”

You do not have to remain a victim. Even though you experienced a lot of heartbreak and helplessness as a child, you can heal. If you want to be able to give and receive love now, you need to be willing to learn, as an adult, how to compassionately feel those painful feelings and learn to manage them, rather than continue to avoid them.


It takes courage to be willing to risk our deeper existential pain.

It takes courage to open yourself to feeling – with the utmost compassion, kindness, tenderness, caring, gentleness and understanding – your core painful feelings of loneliness, heartbreak, grief and helplessness from your childhood, so that the little child in you feels seen and valued by you. In childhood, you shut yourself off from these old deeply painful feelings, because you were too little then to manage them. Once you learn that now, as an adult, you can manage your painful feelings, you will be able to allow yourself to open to love, even though that involves the risk of being hurt.

To fully give and receive love, we need to know that we can manage the heartbreak of loss – that we have a strong connection with our spiritual guidance who will be here to comfort us through loss, and that we have a strong loving adult self who wants to take responsibility for all of our feelings.

I assure you that when you practice Inner Bonding and learn to do this for yourself, you will be able to give and receive love – which is the greatest experience life has to offer us.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”

Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay


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