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on September 23, 2007
A very interesting and insightful book. Here are some representative excerpts.

God can be more easily found in human love than in the human mind - from the Brothers Karamazov

Ongoing interaction with a long-term partner can be an agent of transformation more powerful than any other. We have come to believe that it is the clearest way for transformation to occur.

Sooner or later in every relationship the initial attraction turns into a power struggle as couples find themselves facing in their spouse the same behavior and attitudes that drove them crazy in their parents. (Or it could be they project issues they had in the past with other people onto their spouse).

It turns out that loving your partner is the best way to facilitate your own personal and spiritual growth.

The impulse to step away from positive input is an indication that you have problems receiving love.

The most important commitment we (the authors) made were to end negativity and move toward amplifying the positive, even though we said many times we didn't know how to do that.

Separate Knowing = what is real and true exists independently of who is doing the observing.

Connected Knowing = Let me suspend my critical judgments for a minute and see if I can enter your world and try to feel the truth of what you are saying.

We are formed from every important relationship we have ever had.

No one comes to a relationship empty handed. There are all kinds of information, prejudice, wishful thinking, and expectations interjected between people before they really get to know each other.

Self-rejection and self-hatred are directly related to the problems people have in receiving love; i.e., "I'm not good enough".

What do butterflies and good relationships have in common? Both are colorful, but they also go thru 4 stages: For good relationships they are: attraction, romance, power struggle, and mature love (the full blown butterfly). For humans, volition is required for their transformation. Romantic partners have to become conscious (not act unconsciously), set goals, exercise patience and make good choices if their relationship is to progress to the next level.

We assign our partners characteristics we don't allow ourselves to have. We attribute a quality, fault, skill, motive, thought or feeling that originates from us. In a way we project onto them what we don't or won't know about ourselves.
One clue that it's a projection rather than an objective assessment is if it's veracity is asserted repeatedly, with intense emotion.

Being quick to anger or excessively self-absorbed are more often a symptom of unhealed wounds rather than a character defect. When people are mistreated as children, they don't know they have sustained a hit that strongly shapes the way they will connect to friends and other intimates in the future.

Kindness is an appropriate way of life when everyone is carrying the burden of previous psychological injuries.

Self rejection often masquerades as something else. It can be disguised as hypercriticalism of others or dissatisfaction and negativity about life in general. It can also look like perfectionism or shyness or a reluctance to extend oneself by trying new things.

A person who is having trouble receiving love will show it by consistently deflecting the positives and/or absorbing the negatives.

No matter how disconnected we feel, we are still part of the universal, interwoven tapestry of life. We cannot live in isolation, and we cannot heal alone.

We know that the reason people can't receive love is because they can't accept positive input for traits, talents, and qualities they've disowned, and they can't receive gifts their parents didn't approve of their having. In other words, self-rejection and self-hatred block their ability to take in what would be healing.

You cannot even heal your disconnection by loving other people or by loving God. You may compensate for your self-hatred by loving others, but you do not heal the breach within yourself. You must start loving in your partner those traits, habits, attitudes, and behaviors that give you the most trouble, in fact the very things he or she does that drives you crazy. It could be anything.

What you don't like or have rejected in yourself, you tend to project onto others, with the most on-target projections aimed at your partner. In order to relate to the parts of yourself that are missing, you project them onto your partner and relate to them in that form. You can experience the disapproval and dislike you have for yourself by disapproving and disliking those same things in your mate. This sounds far-fetched only because most projections are created in the unconscious. You don't know you're doing it.

The key is to understand, accept and `love' in your partner the things you hate, because then, in effect, you will be loving them in yourself. This works because the brain doesn't make a distinction between loving yourself and loving the Other. So when you approach the faults or your partner; i.e. your own projections of your partner's faults, with understanding, tolerance and acceptance, you get a double bonus. You experience understanding, tolerance, and acceptance for yourself as well as for your partner. Through repeated acts of loving acceptance, you gather to yourself all your neglected, abused, and frightening parts. Gradually you are restored to wholeness through the hard work of practicing acceptance.

What you need to do:

1. Make a list of the traits you would eliminate or exaggerate in you could in your partner.

2. Examine your list and know that these same traits are in some way connected to you. They are a mirror of the things you have rejected in yourself.

What you make up about your partner (or anyone else) and invest with energy is also true of you. The more you're trying to protect yourself from yourself, the more your projections will seem to you to bear no resemblance to yourself, and the more you will tell yourself that you are not like that in any way. Only when you stop projecting will you know that you've started to become whole.

Fear can make people deaf. It can limit people to talking, without truly communicating.

The inability to listen is always related to how deeply the person is wounded, and therefore, self-absorbed and closed-in.
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on March 28, 2009
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a childhood that was unstable, neglectful or abusive or who is in a relationship with a person with an unstable childhood. This book provides concrete strategies for overcoming the unconscious sabotaging that frequently results from such backgrounds.
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I finished this book feeling a great sense of sadness because it explained so clearly why my last relationship - with the love of my life - failed. The hope of the book is that it gives communication techniques for creating emotional intimacy in a relationship.
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The book's premise is that many people are blind to the fact that they create barriers towards receiving love. I had never thought of this before but can apply it directly to my own life: I never thought that I deserved to be happy or to be loved. Similarly, in my last relationship I did everything possible to reach out to my girlfriend and open myself up emotionally to her, but the more I reached out, the more she shut down; I see now that she was simply refusing to accept love and had a block towards emotional intimacy, empathy and compassion because she carries so much unresolved baggage.
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This book explains in great detail the reasons for this self-sabotaging behavior, most often directly tied to childhood abuse and neglect. It provides many case studies on relationships showing how subtle, insidious and destructive the behavior pattern of refusing to receive love is.
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Most importantly, the book gives a very thoughtful, positive and counter-intuitive strategy to allow oneself to begin receiving love.
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I am so sad for what has been lost in my life, but this book provides hope for the future.
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on February 20, 2006
I am familiar with Hendrix's Imago workshop format, attended one years ago in NY with my significant other. It was one of the most challenging and difficult weekend experiences of my life! The relationship did not last, having NOTHING to do with the workshop (it was hanging by threads before).
Years later, a good friend who is a therapist, recommended Receiving Love. I felt quite resistant, based on my limited experience, however, since I know many couples who have benefitted from Harville's work, I decided my resistance must mean there is something for me to learn.
I am learning and opening my heart to issues I thought were healed. Maybe some stuff is never complete... at least for me, I sometimes need more fine tuning, to rehash areas of my childhood that may be lingering quietly in the dark recesses.
The book is a valuable guide (even for those not in relationship right now, like me) to clarify why things are not working in the "sample" couples. In fact, I think the sampling covers just about any potential issue, except perhaps extreme abuse.
The exercises are very challenging, I've only done the easy ones so far. The material is deeply thought-provoking, solidly researched and presented with compassion and intellect.
I appreciate the Hendrixes work, style and dedication to helping people discover themselves. This material offers the endless opportunity to heal yourself and help your mate heal their childhood wounds. Isn't that what we all want?
Give yourself and your partner a huge gift... read this book, then do the exercises. And talk and keep talking...
Pie Dumas - Author & Life Coach
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on May 4, 2011
Receiving Love Book Review

I was kind of disappointed in this book. I felt like it was more of an advertisement for the Imago Relationship Therapy techniques that the authors teach than it was on how to open yourself up to receiving love.

The bulk of the book was about three married couples who had to transform their "separate" beings into "connected" beings in order to build a more solid relationship full of trust, understanding, and open communication.

Many of the concepts were not new to me: Couples working on increasing communication by mirroring, validating, and empathizing; I learned about these techniques a long time ago and have used them in almost all of my relationships. The latter, empathizing, was instrumental in my last relationship, especially because communication was sparse.

What I did learn about receiving love is that it is difficult for some people to receive love or gifts because it reminds them of the things that they gave up as children or young adults because they were chastised or had a bad experience with it at the time. Receiving love or gifts recreates that hurtful experience all over again and it can remind them of what they don't have. Also, many people feel like they don't deserve the love or the gift.

Another thing I learned is that the things we criticize our partners the most about are those things that we dislike in ourselves or things that are missing in our lives or that we set aside (probably from a traumatic experience as explained above). For example, I felt that my last partner was overly critical of me and the things I did, but now I've realized that I am the same way with others: I am very picky, I have high expectations of a partner and I like things done a certain way.

The one story that was shared in the book that I found most valuable was from a guy who's relationship did not last. After his relationship ended, he took the 3 things he liked most about his partner, which he felt had been missing from his life, and he brought them back into his life. He started dancing again, opened his art studio back up again, and took an impromptu trip to another country. In essence, he gave himself these "gifts" and he accepted them as such.

The last part of the book talks about the exercises that you can do to better receive love and gifts. They tie in both the separate and connected selfs.

I started this book while I was still in a relationship...sort of. I kept reading it even though I was no longer in a relationship. Although I have no relationship to apply it to at this time, I can use it to reevaluate my past relationship and use it as a tool for maintaining a successful next relationship - whether that is with another partner or with myself.
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on April 28, 2009
This book is a great resource for yourself and the people you truly care about who have a tremendous ability to GIVE love, but find it difficult to actually enable themselves to truly RECEIVE it. It's a very practical, insightful and significant piece of the whole circle of love puzzle. Josephine Thomson, MCC
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on June 23, 2013
Found it very helpful. It is hard to implement at first as it does seem a little mechanical, but after some practice it is amazing how much of a better listener you become and how much more you understand each other. Would recommend to any marriage group as well as independent couples.
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on January 21, 2008
I think this is essential reading for reflection for ALL couples whether they have been married one day or eighty years
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on June 14, 2013
This book is an honest & helpful journey towards learning how to truly receive the love that's all around you, every day. It shows that, a lot of our relationship problems really stem from our diminished ability to receive that limits our ability to trulyconnect in our relationships. This is a book that can transform your life, if you're open-minded enough & willing to do the deeper work.
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on April 24, 2015
This book was one of the resources that aided me in transforming my life. I learned so much about myself and it was very practical and enjoyable to read. I healed my fears of intimacy and vulnerability (sabotaging and running away from relationships) and started the best long-term relationship of my life. Thank you Dr. Helen & Harville for your work!
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on September 3, 2012
Its the second book I read from Harvil Hendrix - following the first one - getting the love you want. for me, it is like passing from school to college, as this book builds another important layer for his theory of Imago. it provided me and my partner a great mirror to see how we are blocking love from flowing freely in our relationship. it gave me the priceless insight of looking at every challenge, every conflict, as a chance for personal growth.
bottom line - great book, very well written, delivering an important message loud and clear.
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