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Apr 30, 2024 | Podcast

Expanding Your Capacity to Receive in Business, Life, and Love

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About the episode:

In this episode of the Prosperous Empath® Podcast, I’m continuing the series on challenges that empaths and HSPs often struggle with and sharing practices, mindset shifts, and tips on how to overcome them. The topic of this episode – expanding your capacity to receive – has been one of the greatest transformations for me over the last decade and it’s something I routinely explore with clients. In life, there is an inherent polarity between givers and takers, and the majority of empaths and HSPs overidentify as givers. There are amazing benefits to being a talented giver (which is why many empaths thrive as service providers), but it can also be hard to allow yourself to receive and have your needs met, whether it’s in business partnerships or romantic relationships, to name just a few. In this episode, you’ll learn why empaths often struggle with giving too much of themselves, the consequences of this tendency, and how to nurture your ability to receive more and better.


Topics discussed:

  • Catherine’s personal experience with expanding her capacity to receive in business, life, and love & how growing up in a bed-and-breakfast disconnected her from her own needs
  • Digging deeper into why empaths often struggle with people-pleasing, high-achieving, excessive caretaking, and authentically expressing their emotions
  • Uncovering how you may be creating dynamics in your business, relationships, and life that set you up for giving too much and how to re-train the people in your life on what they can & can’t expect from you
  • How to prevent burnout, misaligned relationships & partnerships, and stop giving from an empty love tank
  • Nurturing more intimacy in life & business and learning how to lean in to nonviolent communication


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Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode


Catherine A. Wood 00:00
Hey there, welcome back to the prosperous Empath cat here. Today we’re going to continue this series that I launched last week on some of the common challenges, and pitfalls I notice we as Empath partners struggle with, in particular. And interestingly, today’s topic is one that has been presenting itself everywhere for me, over the past week, it’s come up for me personally, it’s come up in conversations with my private one on one clients, it’s come up in both our unbounded and emerging masterminds, and more recently, it came up in our non networking Power Hour. So that never strikes me as a surprise when there are these patterns. I notice I’m curious why, and I’ve been reflecting on it. And actually think it makes a whole lot of sense, because we are coming out of winter into spring. And I think as we enter spring for empaths, in particular, there’s this desire to put ourselves out there more to network, to make plans to really come out of our shells for those of us who are more introverted like myself. And this topic in particular, really presents itself when we are in community, and when we’re in relationship with other people, rather than just being with ourselves. And the topic is really around asking for and receiving support. And I noticed I’m even a little nervous bringing today’s conversation to you. Because I really want to do this topic, justice. This topic of learning how to expand my capacity to receive in business life and love has been one of the greatest transformations and breakthroughs for me over the past decade in business, it has caused the just most beautiful ripple impact of joy and delight and contentment. And it is a topic that I notice. It’s one I cover with all my clients, I’m even getting a little emotionalized to talk about it. So it’s super important. And I’m really excited to dig into this topic with all of you. So what we’re going to explore on the on the podcast is I’m going to share some of the reasons why I find it can be challenging for empaths to ask for and receive support, like why, why it is this way for us in particular, how it predictably goes like what are the predictable outcomes and consequences of our inability or resistance to lead in support? And finally, what can we practice instead? So I want to start with this polarity that I notice. And it’s really the polarity between givers and takers. So I think that across the board and paths, in particular, over identify as givers, which is a really wonderful thing, like I certainly identify as a giver, it’s my default orientation. I love being generous. I love supporting others, I love making referrals, making the divine connections, like I just gained a lot of joy from those ways of being. And I noticed that that’s often a theme for the folks that I work with. And the folks that I’m in community with is empaths. And there are positives and negatives of being both a giver and a taker. I think as givers we often over identify with the positive attributes of being a giver and the negative attributes of being a taker or a receiver. But there’s value in each and Yin often attracts Yang, right? Like opposites so often attract. So if you’re like me, many of the relationships that you’ve created in life from a default place, have often potentially had you attracting takers into your life. That was certainly a huge part of my journey, and really needing to learn how to do that internal work. So I could attract more balanced relationships and show up more energetically aligned so that I could both give and receive and so that I could welcome and attract that those ways of being and the people that I partnered with the people that I allowed into my life. So why is it that we as empaths really struggle in these areas? I think there’s five principal reasons Now, some of these characteristics they may have developed for you early in childhood, and some of them may have presented themselves later on in adulthood. So, you know, you kind of determine how how and whether these qualities really speak to you. I think for me, a lot of these qualities really presented themselves in childhood. And then they’ve just kind of morphed or shape shifted over the years. So the first one is being pleasers, we as empaths are really predispositioned to be pleasers and to be people pleasers. And the way this presented for me is, I grew up in a bed and breakfast. And if you’ve been here a while, you’ve certainly heard me share about this before, but my parents owned a bed and breakfast for the the duration of almost my entire childhood. And so I learned at a super young age, to put other people’s needs first to prioritize our guests requests for gosh, restaurant recommendations and what they should do today and what beach they should go to. And if they needed more towels or more soap for their bedroom, like these very small, small little things, right. But it was, it was really a predisposition that I learned really early on, to disconnect from my own wants and needs, and prioritize the needs of other people and really look at how I could be over accommodating how I could kind of shape shift myself in order to prioritize other people. And I got my own needs met indirectly from meeting other people’s needs. The second way This presents itself is that many Empath printers identify as being high achievers were super practiced in being highly competent, and being really effective multitaskers regardless of whether that’s helpful or not, we often have perfectionistic tendencies. So we can often occur as if we don’t have needs. And this is something I talk about so much with clients, like if we show up in a relationship, as we as if we have everything together, like as if we’re completely put together like nothing to see here like I’m good. What do you need? One of the consequences is that other people in our lives will consider will will think that we’re needless that we don’t have any needs that we don’t need to talk about ourselves that we don’t need support that we don’t need attention. Because we’re not actually occurring as if we do and we can so often kind of blame the people in our lives, like, hey, but why aren’t you asking how I’m doing? Why aren’t you checking what I want to do this weekend? Like, why aren’t you asking how I am. But if we show up with a pretty put together and happy face all the time, then we literally train the people in our lives, that we don’t need anything, which is a real challenge that we need to work through. The third way This presents itself is that we’re natural and gifted caretakers, we are really great at caring for other people, as empaths, right? Like we’re we’re emotionally attuned, we have high emotional intelligence, we often anticipate other people’s needs like I oftentimes, even with my partner, like I’m considering, you know, how can I make his morning easier? How can I make his day easier? What could I do for him that would make today a little less stressful for him? We’re also super conscientious and so we do caring for people really, really well. We can oftentimes expect that same treatment in return, which is where the setup occurs, but more on that in a moment. The fourth way This presents itself is that for those of us who. The fourth way This presents itself is that for those of us who were caretakers and pleasers from a young age, we often over to developed our muscle in doing in being in action and being of service at the expense of learning how to use our voice, like learning how to express ourselves learning how to assert boundaries, learning how to ask for what we want and need, let alone being able to even answer that question. And I find this shows up so much in business for empaths. Because we’re gifted service providers. Like I think there’s a really good reason why empaths in particular, become healers and coaches and consultants and therapists and often work in the, in the people businesses, because of how great we are a caring for other people. But we also need to gain the skills to talk confidently and powerfully about who we are, what we do, and the results that we provide for clients because it’s really, that skill set that capacity to just share authentically, organically without being salesy or schemee that will have us naturally attract our ideal clients. And the fourth one is, makes me laugh a little but it’s really our our struggle with expressing emotion, which may seem a little odd because as empaths we’re such deep feelers, right, we, we emote so profound ly. But for many of us in childhood, because we felt an emoted so fully, it can oftentimes be intimidating for our caretakers and loved ones. And naturally, our caretakers would want to make us feel better, but the ways in which they did that often presented like trying to fix or solve our feelings, things like, Oh, honey, don’t worry about that. Just be happy. Oh, honey, go do this, instead, you’ll be fine. Oh, honey, don’t worry that she pulled your hair on the playground, she’s just immature. And while they were well intentioned, oftentimes the consequence of this is that we felt and many times still continue to feel in validated by sharing our feelings, which then makes it feel less safe, less, okay, to trust other people with our feelings, to feel our feelings and to express them. As a result, many of us learned as a young age, to hide our feelings, to not trust our feelings to not trust sharing them because it literally wasn’t safe to do so. So, as you can really hear, like, I think there’s a really good reason why we have over developed, giving muscles over developed tendencies to support to be of service to contribute to other people. Now, there’s some really predictable consequences of this, both in business but I often see it happen just as often in business as I do in romantic relationship, and business partnerships and an even life. So one of the one of the predictable consequences of being people pleasers is that we can oftentimes really create misaligned and unbalanced relationships and business partnerships because when we are subordinating our needs and prioritizing other people constantly, it can create this real power dynamic in a relationship where we are oftentimes losing at the expense of the others winning. And in business in particular, this is an area where I’ve really had to lean into and take a whole lot of responsibility about how I created these partnerships like how I used to set up partnerships or become part of business organizations and networks, where I was just constantly giving and then holding the other individuals and entities at fault for not reciprocating, but But truly it it was on me as much as it was on them because I created The precedent for these dynamics. And because I was the giver, and so trained in doing and multitasking, I was oftentimes the one creating up these agreements and contracts in the first place. And I see this a lot with clients, I think that we, you know, we step on to boards and masterminds and communities where we train the people that we do business with, we train the people that we network with, we train the people that we fall in love with that, that we give, and they get to receive and, and then we blame them for it. But in reality, that resentment is something to really get curious about and really look on our own side of the street and how we created that dynamic in the first place. The second consequence of this is the High Achiever bit, so because we support others, so Well, we often expect the same caliber, the same quality of treatment from them. In return, we expect that same high gradient of care and support and attention, which is a really, really high bar and high expectation to set. Because we’re the ones who are naturally gifted in being empathetic and being emotionally intelligent. Oftentimes, our our partners, the ones we do business with the relationships that we build, like, that’s not their instinct, because opposites often attract. And so one of the consequences of this is that we can become super critical and judgmental, about the quality of care and support that we receive, because we set such a high bar and a high expectation for ourselves. And we expect, oftentimes unconsciously, that those that our loved ones and business partners will meet us that they will be able to give to that same standard. And the really sad part about this is that when that judgment and critique is lying under the surface, it can oftentimes present as as being really critical externally to, to business partners and loved ones and family members. And that judgment, and that critique can be really negative, really disempowering for our loved ones and business partners to want to lean in, to want to meet us to want to rise to the occasion. And which makes a lot of sense, right? Because if you’re feeling judged, or if you’re feeling put down and by someone else’s projection projections, first of all, we can feel that we can sense that and for many of us, we withdraw, or we feel attacked, or we become defiant. So it’s a really sad and spiraling down. Impact of us, like not getting our needs met at all. And it’s just a really sad pattern to see. It’s one I see a lot. It’s one I’ve certainly experienced a lot personally. The third consequence of this is burnout. Which makes a lot of sense, right? Like if we’re gifted caretakers, and we just assume that other people will treat us the same way in return. And we never gain the capacity to ask for what we want and need, then we’ll just continue giving will just continue doing will just continue caring, and trying to model the level of care and support that we want. Which oftentimes just breeds wellbeing, breakdown, fatigue, exhaustion, burnout, and we’re just like, can become so constricting, because, gosh, I mean, I really remember how I used to do this in and just so many relationships where I would just, you know, keep giving keep making plans, keep sending business referrals, keep planning, do dates, keep buying super thoughtful, or generous, generous gifts and imagining that, oh, they’ll get it. They’ll understand that the way I’m supporting them is just what I want. But in reality, that’s not the that’s not the move. For Empath printers that’s not the edge that’s not the the growth point the growth point is connected with this fourth element over on learning how to authentically communicate our own experiences our own wants, needs desires. The fifth and final way that this predictably goes from our kind of default orientation as givers is that when we resist sharing our feelings, and particularly being big feelers, those emotions, they don’t go away, right? Like they build up over time, they often become more dramatic, more deeply felt more, more bitter, just more in general. And until they eventually explode, and when they then eventually do come out, they often come out sideways, really, unintentionally, they can come out as accusations or attacks, or really overblown. And many of us, when we do start practicing sharing our feelings, we think that we’re practicing something different. We think that we’re being vulnerable, that we’re being intimate, that we’re letting our colleagues and clients and loved ones in. But in reality, because we’re still gaining a facility with learning how to share our feelings, there’s oftentimes they’re oftentimes they oftentimes come out as criticisms and accusations as much as we’re trying to share our own feelings. Which I know makes a lot makes, it’s a little hard to imagine, but tell me if this sounds familiar, like, Are you are you tell me if this sounds familiar, I just want you to send me a referral because I sent you one. I, I need you to appreciate me more with your actions when I do something really generous for you. Now, when we start sentences with, I want you I need you, the subject of that sentence is actually the other party, we’re actually pointing the finger outside of ourselves. And this just can create so much harm in our relationship because rather than trying to practice something different, and letting the people we’re in relationship with in get to know us on a deeper level, they can feel shut down or offended, or on the defensive or on the attack, which really creates more of what we don’t want, rather than practicing something new. Alright, so so far, we’ve kind of normalized why it’s challenging for Empath printers to ask for and receive support, and what are some of the predictable or automatic consequences of things continuing to go the way they have if we don’t practice something different. And I want to close today’s episode with a handful of practices, themes that I’ve noticed, create truly lasting and impactful results for Empath printers in really expanding our capacity to receive. And these are things that are probably going to feel really distinct really novel from your from what’s automatic. And I also just want to normalize that many of these practices are not simple fixes. They’re not band aids to place on wounds like These are really on going deep work that you may need to partner with the support of a coach or a therapist or a mastermind or community to really help you in embodying because these are not. These are not quick fixes like these are ongoing, life changing and distinct ways of being. And listen, I’ve been in business for a decade, and these are all practices that 10 years in, I’m still practicing, are still becoming more nuanced, for me more simplified more easeful, and they do become more easeful, the more that we the gosh, the more that we complicate relationship and support less, the more we create a direct path for us to be supported and receive support and love and care and attention and collaboration and partnership opportunities and referrals. The, the greater domino effect it creates for us to want to continue. So I want to start with, with one that perhaps feels the most, the most in depth, the most nuanced and the most transformational. And that’s really around practicing being intimate. Now, I love the saying, curious if you’ve heard it before, that if you spell out intimacy, it spells out in to me see, one of the ways that we can practice expanding our capacity to receive is in being more intimate, and business life than love. And this might sound a little weird, like how do we be intimate in BUSINESS CAT, like, that’s not professional, like I want to keep things professional and collegial. But we can be intimate without expressing our insecurities or fears, or like our greatest chat life challenges that we don’t want to expose. And one of the ways we can do this is through simply sharing a window, into our own experience into our own reality, like in a window into how things are really going for us in our businesses in our relationships. And oftentimes, this could be as simple as saying, like, Hey, I have two openings in my practice right now, which you know, is it’s new for me, I haven’t been here in a long time. And I’m really looking to fill those two spots in my practice this month to meet an income goal I have. I’ve really loved working with you over the last three years. And I’m imagining that you may know someone as amazing as you who would be a perfect fit for my practice, is there someone you can think of in your network, that would be a great referral for me that you’d be willing to connect me with over the next week. Now, coming from personal experience, sharing something like that, perhaps it sounded simple. The way I said it, it certainly sounded simple. As I was saying it, it’s really hard. It’s really hard exposing those those needs. But the the the opportunity here is just to remind ourselves that those needs, that they don’t mean anything about us that they don’t mean anything about who we are as business individuals, or professionals or CEOs. They don’t mean we’re not good enough. They don’t mean we’re not worthy. They don’t mean we’re not amazing business people. It just means we’re having an overturn in our business practice. It just means that there’s a gap in our portfolio of clients. Like literally, that’s it. And the more comfortable we get with sharing a window into our own experiences and being intimate, the less we will internalize whatever it is we’re needing to share, the less meaning or significance or heaviness. We will attach to our own needs, our own experiences. And the more open heartedly, the more organically we can just make direct requests, we can just practice sharing our needs, sharing how it’s going for us and making simple and easy He requests for support, from referrals, for partnership for, for everything, with out the complaints, without the propensity to track how much I did to track how much I gave that makes it okay, that makes it fair that makes it equitable for us to receive support in return. Being supported is not transactional, being supported, is not something that we merit or deserve. Because we’ve given X amount of support, we deserve to be supported inherently because of who we are, because we are all children of God. And it’s our birthright. And the more that we can really own that and know that, the more we can just organically and naturally and open heartedly ask for and receive support, without making someone’s Gosh, capacity or performance and doing it so meaningful, or so significant or so, so heavy. Alright, the next one, is it’s kind of a funny little practice. It’s something my coach said to me on a call many years ago, and it’s just always stuck. And it’s the idea that we all have a love tank. Now, stick with me for a moment, like I think many people use, use the, the acronym that we can only we can only pour from a full pot, which which I really like. But I also like this idea of, of supporting and giving through the lens of a love tank. So for, for we as empaths we, we have this capacity to love. And we have a tank of love that we can give away. And oftentimes, we will just keep giving, and giving and giving and depleting this tank of love that we hold. And when we’re giving from an empty love tank, we’re not only depleting that love for other people, but we’re also depleting that love for ourselves. And when we’re giving from an empty or an emptying love tank, it oftentimes becomes a breeding ground for resentment, and bitterness, and hurt and pain and wounds. And so the practice for Empath partners is to really practice giving from a full tank, when we are both loving and honoring ourselves, while also giving and loving others partnering, supporting, providing contributing to others from a full reserve. And when we’re giving from a full reserve, we can do so from a whole hearted and non manipulative, excuse me non manipulative place. So the practice here is to give to others to the point or to the extent that we don’t expect anything in return or give to others to the extent that we will not hold it against someone. So I think this presents a lot in relation romantic relationships, especially because of our predisposition to multitask. So if you are folding the sheets and doing the laundry and cleaning the dishes and taking the dogs out and handling all the household tasks, because you can because I can because we’re so great at handling all that emotional labor. And simultaneously were keeping track of what we’re doing. Were feeling unappreciated. Were holding it against our partners. We are giving from an empty love tank and we are setting ourselves up for the very thing that we’re trying to shift out of. So the practice is right like maybe maybe you don’t do the dishes tonight. You let your partner do them in the morning. Like maybe you maybe in your board meeting this week, you spend the hour you allocated for non paid board work that you put into your schedule and that you let everyone know you’re not available into the following week. It supports in retraining the people that we’re in business and relationship with and what they can expect from us. And it also makes more room for them to lean in, and to step up and to take on more responsibility. The third practice is a book that I really cherish, it’s one we have recently read in the unbounded mastermind. And honestly, I think it’s probably one of the books that have earmarked more pages than potentially any other book that I’ve read. And the book is called Living nonviolent communication by Marshall Rosenberg, and we will drop the link for the book in the shownotes. But he, he says something in that book that I just so appreciate, and I just felt like a full bodied relief when I read this line. And he says that we live in a world with tragically unmet needs. Now, just sit with that for a moment, because I feel like it’s so true. I mean, given the the world and the state of affairs that we’re experiencing, globally right now, and just the epidemic of loneliness that we’re still experiencing in the wake of the pandemic, so many in our wake, and potentially even you like, we are all living in a world with tragically unmet needs. And the practice, the practice that Rosenberg offers to really support us in not only getting more of our own needs met, but supporting those who we partner and do life with. And getting more of their needs met is this four stage process, that he has a framework that he’s created called nonviolent communication. And this four stage process starts with making a simple observation of something that you’re noticing, not a judgment, not a critique, just an objective observation of what you’re noticing is an identification of the feelings that you have around that observation. The third component is to simply and clearly identify the need that you have. And the fourth one is to make a simple request. So gosh, an example of this might look like. I noticed we left the dishes in the sink last night. I noticed we left the dishes in the sink last night and I have a need to go to bed or to wake up in the morning with the sink. Empty. Wait hold on. I noticed we left the dishes in the sink last night and it makes me feel super stressed out and antsy going to bed knowing that I have to clean the dishes first thing in the morning. I have I have this need for us going to bed with a clean sink like would you be willing to just clean the dishes? Wait, I have to say that one again. Oh, it’s hard. I noticed you’re often looking at your phone while I’m trying to have a conversation with you. And it makes me feel disconnected and like you’re not hearing me, would you be willing to put your phone down while we talk so I can feel connected and like we’re on the same page. Now, that was just a simple, simple example. And I’m not gonna lie, it can be hard for even me to come up with examples. But this is certainly a different way of communicating than I was trained in, or I experienced growing up. And I find that the effects of it can be really transformative in our relationships. The fourth area that I think can really make a difference for Empath printers, is finding like minded communities where it’s emotionally and psychologically safe, to practice sharing our emotional interiors, and really in practicing gaining facility with letting people in letting people see our vulnerabilities. And, and having our fears witnessed and normalized by others. Now, I talk about this a lot. And I think Empath printers, across the board, oftentimes experiencing experience being in psychologically unsafe communities and unsafe groups, which I have often heard. Which I think can be really hard. And when we’re in a group of like minded individuals, there, it provides for so many more layers and levels of learning, and growth and support and accountability, because we can practice doing something distinct and having our experience feedback with members in the group. But we also really learn through being around others who are like us who are practicing similar growth and similar new ways of being. So truly like I do believe that for Empath partners in particular, being in community is a really powerful structure, to expand our capacity to receive more in relationships and in business in particular. And then the fourth is one that I mentioned at the beginning. And it’s something that we practice every month through hosting or non networking Power Hour. And it’s really an opportunity to practice sharing a window into your own experience of how it’s going in your business. And asking for meaningful support. And giving meaningful support and gaining more faculty with learning how to practice I always love seeing the folks that show up for our non networking power hours every month. And just seeing the magic that gets created in a room where people are committed to practicing being authentic, practicing sharing their, their own experience, and asking for and allowing for meaningful support. So I will drop the link for our next non work non networking power hour in the show notes. If you’d like to join us. I think the next one is on Monday, May 13 at noon. Thank you so much for tuning into today’s conversation. I hope you found this conversation supportive. I would love to hear from you, perhaps over on Instagram or if you’re not already a member of our unbounded community. Come on over and join us. It’s a completely supportive and free and pitch free community. And I’d love to hear from you. Thanks you so much. And we’ll see you next week.


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Trigger warning:
This episode may contain triggering content for some listeners affected by child loss; please review the show notes to know if this episode is proper for you now.

As an empath, it can often feel like we’re living in a world that’s grieving hardship and heartbreak. This is why I’m grateful to sit down with Jenn Andreou, an Executive Coach and Grief Recovery Method Specialist. In her work, Jenn helps grievers who feel stuck in the pain of their losses to move through grief and take action to regain their wellbeing. Throughout the episode, we talk about living with grief and allowing yourself to feel pain, sadness, and sorrow instead of fixing or bypassing them. After living through two tragic losses, it took Jenn seventeen years to truly begin to heal and find her way back to joy. Why? Because while grief is emotional, we as a society often intellectualize it and don’t allow ourselves to truly embrace and process our feelings. Jenn joins me for a heartfelt discussion on taking action (not the kind you may think), becoming more honest with yourself, and embracing the idea that it’s okay for things to not always be good so you can heal and move forward.

Visit this episode’s show notes page here.

The Prosperous Empath® Podcast is produced by Heart Centered Podcasting.

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