How to Open your Heart so you can Receive and Not Burn Out While Leading

One of the biggest misconceptions about leading circle is that you have to give, give, give and give some more.

Time and time again, I see facilitators who make sure they keep it all together and show up only to hold space for the group, leaving themselves completely out of the circle.

So then what happens is they burn out. Especially if they are doing these circle for free or at a low cost point. There is something not quite fulfilling about the job, which is really what it becomes.

There is another way to lead so you don’t feel exhausted, burned out and overwhelmed by the energy.

I used to be someone who was an over-giver, pouring my all into my circles, events and workshops. I was barely scraping by financially and I had a chronic sense of resentment. I didn’t feel valued for the space I held. I didn’t feel supported. It felt like constant work and finally in the summer of 2013, I threw in the towel and said I QUIT.

What I realized is that my receptivity channel was blocked, causing me to be depleted. What I needed to learn was how to open my heart and allow myself to be loved and supported by the universe and everyone around me. Once that happened, I could lead from a new place. I could lead 9-day retreats and feel refreshed afterwards. My business has continued to expand ever since I restarted again and it’s because my heart is wide open to receive as well as give.

Learning how to receive is one of the most critical parts of feminine leadership.

As Deepak Chopra wrote in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: “The second spiritual law of success, the Law of Giving and Receiving, is based on the fact that everything in the universe operates through dynamic exchange. Every relationship is one of give and take because giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe.”

If you are also feeling blocked around receiving, it comes down to the core belief that you feel you are not worthy. You over-give to compensate for this feeling of lack and unworthiness within you, to make yourself feel like you matter. You give from a place of proving yourself and making yourself invaluable.

So you hide the tender underbelly that feels soft and dark. You “fake it until you make it” and put on a good face so that others feel secure in your leadership.

This is not the path of feminine leadership.

The truth is, you have locked up your heart. If anyone found out about your feelings of lack, incompetence, unworthiness and fear, they wouldn’t show up to your circles and events, or would they?

Opening your heart is critical to opening up the receptivity channel. Opening your heart is what will create a dynamic exchange that feels good for both you and for others.

This is not easy because it is vulnerable. To ask for what you need and desire take courage. It feels scary because someone may say no or feel put out by your request.

But feminine leadership requires you to vulnerably ask for support and contribution from others. This is what makes a true circle. When you leave yourself out from receiving from the circle, the circle is broken and incomplete. It is through your active participation in receiving from the circle that the circle becomes whole.

In my book, Open Your Heart: How to be a New Generation Feminine Leader, I share my journey to finding my own sense of self-worth and beginning the process of putting myself in the circle instead of removing myself from it while leading. Here are three things you can start doing to open your receptivity channel and start experiencing more flow and grace in your circles:

Share Vulnerably

This is the hardest one, which is why I put it first, and small steps make a big difference. Everyone has their own edge of vulnerability; you just have to find your edge and slightly push it back a little.

The most basic way to do this is to start revealing parts of your past that you are afraid others may judge. By openly sharing the darker parts of yourself, you give other women permission to do the same, and your circle will naturally go deeper and become more authentic.

For example, when I was going through a breakup, I shared about that experience in my circle. By sharing something personal that wasn’t pretty, the women who I was leading felt more connected to me. I began to see that there was nothing to be ashamed of because we are all suffering; it is part of the human condition.

Another way to share vulnerably is to admit when you are not feeling on your A Game when you start your circle, event or workshop. The key is not to dwell on it, dump it on them, or be a victim to it. Instead, share from the perspective that it’s ok to not feel “fine” and to show up anyway.

One of my past circle participants still talks about how impactful it was when I showed up to lead circle one night and as I was reading the opening invocation, started crying. I stopped and shared that I wasn’t feeling so great, allowing myself to cry. When I was finished crying, I continued reading and let them women know that there was no need for concern, nothing they needed to do except just hold space for my emotions to pass.

We don’t need to fix each other or make each other feel better. When we cry or show our emotion, it is an opportunity to expose our heart and expand it to allow for greater capacity to feel more alive, more worthy of this human existence.

Ask for Support and Contribution

When I first started out, I did everything myself. I set up the room, cleaned up the room, and didn’t ask anyone to do anything, especially if they were paying. I’d leave exhausted from all the tedious management details on top of holding space energetically.

No more.

Your needs and desires are equally as important as everyone else’s. You don’t have to do it all yourself; you can allow others to fulfill your needs.

And here’s the thing, you make other people feel more valuable, more loved, more important when you ask them to support and contribute to you.

So start small. Ask someone to bring a dessert, another to help with setup, and yet another to help with cleanup.

Then go bigger.

What emotional, physical and spiritual needs do you have? Instead of sitting out during a paired share, jump in and connect. Ask for a hug when you need one.

The support can also be from outside the circle. Who is holding you as you are holding space? Make sure you are in a circle yourself as the place where you fill up and get your needs met.

Allow your husband or partner to help you pack up your car or even drive you to circle. Ask him to make you a hot tea and draw your bath right before you get home.

Let the people around you know how they can contribute, and when they ask, make something up. This will increase your following because people feel special around you. They feel needed and wanted. They feel connected to you.

Allow Yourself to Be Acknowledged, Appreciated and Accepted

How many times do you deflect a compliment? Stop it.

If someone acknowledges you, receive it. Fully. Even if you don’t believe it, practice smiling, opening your chest up a little and thanking them. Even better, create the chance for acknowledges to be shared in the room and when it is your turn, demonstrate how graciously you can receive by opening up your arms and fully taking it in (no matter how uncomfortable it may feel at first).

Instead of leaving yourself out of activities, allow yourself to participate. Allow all parts of your to be accepted, you don’t have to be perfect.

And most importantly, accept every dollar that comes in as a token of their appreciation. Appreciate yourself for the work you do and value the container you hold.

The truth is, the more you open your heart to love, appreciation and acceptance, the more you are able to love, appreciate and accept those around you. The more you reveal the parts that aren’t so pretty and put together, the more you will have compassion for yourself and others.

Lead by example. If you want women to learn how to receive, it starts with you modeling it. The more we open our hearts to one another, the more connected we feel. This is what circle is all about.

Take Action

Is your receptivity channel open? If so, what do you do? If not, which of these three ways feels most challenging for you? Share in the comments below.

Share the Love

Tag a sister who is really good at receiving and acknowledge her. Share this with all the women in your life who are opening their hearts to receive.


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