Have you ever noticed that the act of giving is portrayed as a much more morally worthy act than that of receiving? While this notion may come from religious expectations, even in modern secular society, many of us find it difficult to wholly and openly receive, especially when it comes to acts of love.
With the new-found popularity of psychedelics for expanding the mind and heart, what could these powerful substances teach us? With their ability to create connection, empathy and neurogenesis, could they bridge the gap we all feel between giving and receiving love?
With what we know about therapeutic doses of psychedelics, it seems likely they hold the key to digging deep into this question. Could microdosing offer a softer approach to the art of receiving?
Exploring the Act of Giving and Receiving Love
What is your perception of the act of giving? To give is virtuous, caring, and morally 'good.' To give without expectations is not only admirable, but it's also widely encouraged.
What about receiving? For one, it is a passive act. One which is assumed should only occur if there is a reciprocal arrangement or relationship.
Our approach to giving and receiving is flawed from the start, and especially so when we expand it into the realm of love. In the words of John Welwood, author of Perfect Love: Imperfect Relationships, "There is a secret about human love that is commonly overlooked: Receiving it is much more scary and threatening than giving it. How many times in your life have you been unable to let in someone's love or even pushed it away? Much as we proclaim the wish to be truly loved, we are often afraid of that, and so find it difficult to open to love or let it all the way in."
And it's true. Even if many of us happily and freely give out love, when the tables turn, and it's our turn to receive, barriers go up, and we push it away. All of us have our reasoning for this, whether known or unknown. Social programming has told us receiving is greedy and selfish — it isn't virtuous. Receiving may also feel like an admission of defeat, that we need something. Or, perhaps we experience thoughts that we are unworthy of the gift.
Have you erected emotional barriers to protect a scared inner-self? Deflecting love is more comfortable than letting it in because you don't have to face these challenging inner-thoughts and questions.
Love is an essential component to a deeper connection to our closest; learning to both give and receive with grace is an art form. To receive is just as soul-nourishing as to give. Yet, how can we overcome these pre-programmed and deeply-seated reservations about accepting the love of another?
Microdosing As a Bridge to Deeper Self Awareness and Learning to Love
Could small doses of psychedelics provide the necessary inner road map to identifying inner and often subconscious barriers to love? Of course, larger amounts of psychedelic mushrooms and LSD are therapeutically valuable (for end-of-life anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and addictions, to name a few), but what about smaller, sub-perceptual doses?
To date, there have only been a handful of studies exploring the benefits and applications for microdosing psychedelics (although the recent rise in popularity is changing this). But we know, based on research into larger doses of psychedelics, that these substances generally create mystical experiences, which are often "meaningful and transformative," affecting "attitudes, mood and behaviour," even months afterwards. Could ongoing small daily doses of these same substances mirror some of these emotional and behavioural shifts?
As thoughtfully presented by Melissa Pandika for Mic, psychedelics seem to positively influence one's openness, empathy, mood, and life satisfaction. Each of these categories seems intimately connected to the internal barriers some of us have to open up and receiving love just as we give it. Openness and the willingness to feel or experience a new mindset is a clear pathway towards learning to receive love.
But what about empathy? Empathy is "the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another." Greater empathy for those around you, paired with the self-discovered often associated with psychedelics, can lead to greater connections with those you love. Does empathy also not teach you the true meaning behind another's love? Would it not also show you the true, emotional implications experienced by someone you've rejected?
Finally, mood and life satisfaction are two components that lay the foundation for a greater ability to give and receive love. It's only when we are happy and healthy that we may have the capacity to sit with periods of discomfort and address the reasons for pushing people away. These two components play a key role in feeling worthy of love.
The little scientific evidence we have so far about microdosing seems to support a subtle shift in emotional status and emotional capacity. For example, the researchers behind "Microdosing Psychedelics: Personality, mental health, and creativity differences in microdosers," discovered people who microdose have "lower dysfunctional attitudes and negative emotionality and higher wisdom, open-mindedness, and creativity."
True, it may be difficult to quantify the ability to give and receive love scientifically. But the many important skills and level of emotional intelligence required to develop this capacity are intricately related to openness, wisdom, and positive emotionality —all of which are linked to the power of psychedelics.
Microdosing is a Journey of Discovery
From the reported experiences of people microdosing with psychedelics, these substances seem to have a magical ability to create connections, open blocked channels, and encourage empathic understanding. While everyone experiences a different journey, the available evidence tells us it's almost always a positive one. For some, this path towards empathy, openness and connection could improve the capacity not just to give love but to wholly receive it.