Can you receive as well as you can give?



The Holiday Spirit

Most of the attention this time of year is on giving – I get it.

It’s the time for many of us to express our love and appreciation for others by giving gifts to those close to our hearts. It’s also become a time of awareness towards those less fortunate than ourselves and knowing that our giving makes a real difference in their lives.

While I don’t want to take away from the importance and centrality of giving as the spirit behind these holidays, at the same time I want to make the case for the importance of receiving.

Receiving other peoples’ generosity can be difficult. If you are anything like me, it doesn’t come naturally. I have worked with and have known many people who struggle with this.

The Power Behind Giving

It’s easy to give for most of us. It fills us up inside when we are generous. We feel powerful to know that we are seen as ‘good people’.  We feel in control of our lives – deciding what to give, to whom and how. We cherish how others react to our gifts, reinforcing that we are loved, appreciated and valued through what we give.

The Vulnerability of Receiving

Receiving, though asks something totally different from us.  Receiving involves no control. We don’t get a say in what we get, how much is spent (in $ or time) or how it is given. We don’t get to be powerful. We can’t know in advance and prepare for it.  No, our sole responsibility is to accept graciously what is being offered.

To receive fully is to be vulnerable. It is a softening of our edges.  It is a test of our worthiness.

Lessons on Receiving

Recently, I spent time in India where I had a chance to see how I still struggle with receiving. I visited a friend who owned a dress shop and after I picked out some (expensive) fabric to have a couple of suits made, she refused to take any money from me at all.

I objected: “Please let me pay for at least one of them?” But she was adamant – unmoveable.  I had no choice but to graciously accept her generosity. It was uncomfortable.


Challenging Old Beliefs

There is an old message in the back of my head that says I should be sure. I never owe anyone anything. It may mean trouble. So, while I can often feel ok about my friends and family doing things for me, I also know that with them, I will reciprocate, and that means that the scales will be even.

With my friend in India – the scales were unbalanced in her favour.  I had nothing I could ‘give back’ to even the score. That’s what made it so unnerving for me.  I had to sit with my discomfort and challenge the old belief that I was in danger of judgement, ridicule or scorn. It was a powerful opportunity for me that repeated itself throughout my stay there.

Observe & Deserve   

This holiday season I ask you to join me in observing how you are receiving.  Are there times it feels ok and other times it doesn’t?

Does it feel selfish to want or to get?

Do you place more value on giving rather than receiving?  If so, challenge yourself to understand why.

Do you feel you are enough – just being you?  Can you fully deserve everything you receive?

The Spirit(uality) of Receiving

There is no wrong way to answer any of these questions.  The important thing is your own self-awareness.

When we receive well, we allow others to practice generosity – and that is always a good thing. Our inability to receive fully limits the flow of abundance in our lives.  On the other hand, when we receive well, we invite abundance and affirm it as the reality in our lives.

When we uncover, discover and discard the old messages that limit our happiness, well-being and worthiness, we begin to create a new truth.

I hope this will be your truth throughout the holiday season and that you will get a chance to share how you practise ‘receiving’ in the comments below.

Wishing you all the best,

P.S. – Remember, the greatest gift you can receive is self-acceptance & love. Take time this holiday to do the things that bring you peace of mind and a sense of joy.  You deserve it.

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