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  • Christie Pearl, LMHC, LPC

Letting Go and Learning to Receive

If I had a dollar for every time one of my clients said “I just want to get rid of this” when referring to one of their trauma symptoms, I would be a very wealthy person!

Many ACOAs begin their recovery journey believing that if they can just figure out a way to remove all the "defects" that they perceive in themselves, they would be able to live a happier life. There are two problems with this belief: 1) ACOAs tend to blame themselves for their trauma symptoms and instead see them as character flaws, and 2) the absence of the negative does not equal the positive.

In other words, recovery isn’t just about healing what was painful in the past. It’s also about engaging with what is pleasing in the here and now.

One of the biggest reasons ACOAs stay stuck is that they try to approach recovery in the same way they tried to survive their childhood – by going into hyperdrive and trying to figure out what to “do” about it. What they don’t realize is that, in a sense, recovery is less about "doing" and more about allowing.

We have to feel safe enough to stop doing and start receiving.

Don’t get me wrong. Part of stepping out of old emotional patterns is becoming more active, rather than reactive, in your life. Yes, we want to make choices, express our needs and preferences. We want to learn how to take up space.

But in this discussion, we’re talking about learning to receive.

Learning to trust.

Allowing good things to happen.

And that can feel scary for ACOAs who have learned to cope by doing, controlling, thinking, planning and anticipating.

Growing up in a home that doesn’t feel emotionally, physically and spiritually safe impacts one’s ability to be able to trust and receive.

Living day to day in a fear state naturally requires you to shut down, close off and block all your channels, which cuts you off from the hurt, but also keeps out the good. Even something as simple as opening gifts during holidays or birthdays can feel stressful instead of enjoyable. You might have felt shame while opening the gifts and guilt over not feeling grateful enough or showing enough excitement to your parents.

Years later, even though you cognitively know that it’s over, your emotional, physical and spiritual selves might not be convinced.

This is an opportunity to lovingly reparent yourself so you can realize it’s safe to be open now.

Many ACOAs don’t realize how much their old survival strategies are getting in the way of being able to enjoy a full life today. You feel confident in your abilities in your career, while at the same time you doubt you will have enough clients. You want to finish your dissertation, but you keep procrastinating with it. You want the fellowship, but you are afraid of shining too bright.

Realizing how you might be blocked to receiving can help you make sense of why you’ve been struggling. This fear of receiving can be subtle, subconsciously hanging around in your nervous system, stuck in the past.

Learning to thrive is about healing the pain from the past and opening ourselves to goodness in the present, whatever that looks like for each of us.

Because the old protective walls don’t belong in an abundant life today.

Today it is safe to believe that good things are coming.

May you experience everything your higher power has for you. May you be all of your true self, both giving and receiving.


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