Learn how to receive

So many of us have trouble receiving from others. It’s not a skill our parents teach, nor is it learned at school.  We enjoy the getting of something, but actually receiving the love and kindness is different.  For many of us, when we receive a gift, we feel obliged to give something in return, to keep the balance, so we don’t owe another.  Or when we receive a compliment, we counter it with mentioning one of our faults.  We dismiss an offer of help, spouting our independence when the support really could benefit us.  Receiving is a skill that we can learn. 

My primary love language is gift-giving.  I’m that person who remembers that when we had lunch three months ago, you mentioned wanting to take up journaling.  So, for your birthday, I gift you a beautiful leather-bound refillable journal with your favorite quote embossed on the cover.  My intention is for you to feel my love and appreciation for you as a human being, not that you owe me anything. 

I learned this from my grandmother.  I never left her home without a full belly and knowing she loved me deeply.  She also accepted gifts from me as an act of my love and appreciation for her.  I had a splendid example of how to give and receive properly. However, I still had trouble accepting from others because of my abandonment issues from my mother.

To truly give is not to expect something in return of equal value. But, instead, trust that your gifts may cause a butterfly effect, so that those receiving may one day do the same. ~ Melissa Monique Brown

Do you understand the true essence of giving and receiving?

Giving is action-oriented.  We are in charge of this situation.  Doing for someone else makes us feel good because our brains are wired to get pleasure from giving.  We get recognition from the receiver.  This charitable act unwittingly builds up our ego.  Even the Bible [Acts 20:35] touts the virtues of giving. But this type of giving is one we do from our hearts, not our heads.  

The egoic mind wants recognition for the act of giving.  The heart wants the receiver to feel valued and worthy of the love that is being given.  See the difference?  One is an act of self-service, and the other is showing our vulnerability.

Receiving is submissive.  It opens us up, something the ego doesn’t want us to do.  To receive the love that is being shown, we have to expose our hearts, and that shows we care.  That unlocks our hidden parts from the giver.

Giving and receiving are not opposites. They are two parts of the whole.  There is no act of giving without participation from the receiver.  Both are fundamentally needed for love to be given and received—neither is more important than the other. 

Giving feels fantastic, and for there to be a Giver, there must be a Receiver, so allowing yourself to receive is an act of love. ~ Rebecca O’Dwyer

So why is it so hard to receive?

I had trouble receiving from others because I didn’t believe I was worthy of their love.  My ego thought if my mother allowed my trauma, she didn’t love me, and therefore, no one else would either.  This limiting belief blocked my heart from genuinely receiving anything from another. 

We are worthy, just as we are.  We have to know this in our hearts for us to give generously and receive the love a gift to us represents.  We must be able to receive from a place of openness.  But our hearts can be closed for many reasons. 

When my husband was little, he circled the items he wanted from the Sears Christmas catalog.  But each year, he didn’t get the items he wanted.  So, he adopted the mantra not to get his hopes up so he wouldn’t be disappointed.  I understand that for a child, this may work to protect against future pain.  But as an adult, this is cynicism in action, preventing us from achieving happiness.  

Sometimes others teach that to receive, one must first give, based on the maxim that there’s no free lunch.  The ability to give and receive becomes transactional.  This misguided adage implies some inherent unworthiness.  This limiting belief again is a lie from the ego because we are all worthy. 

“Receive” comes from the Latin recipere, meaning “to take back” -what we receive is already ours.

A rich life is lived from a giving heart, not a selfish mind.  ~ Rasheed Ogunlaru

How do we overcome our unworthy feelings when receiving?

Only the egoic mind thinks we are unworthy.  Our soul knows the truth.  The first step to the realization of our worthiness comes when we remember who we really are.  We are spiritual beings living in a body while we are at this Earth school.  Our soul, the heart’s voice, is our tour guide- if we allow it to speak above the egoic mind.  Once we tap into our soulfulness, are authentic self emerges

Our soul knows that we are all connected to Source and that we are all connected to each other.  Therefore, we are not alone.  We are not separate from Spirit nor one another. 

By surrendering to our hearts, we open ourselves to see from a loving perspective and not from the egoic mind.  As a recipient, we feel appreciation and love from the giver. We don’t wonder what they want from us, or that we think we have to reciprocate in kind.  Gratitude wells up from deep within us, and we are thankful for the blessing of this benefactor in our lives. 

Gracious acceptance is an art–an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving. Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you. ~ Alexander McCall Smith

How do we get better at receiving?

Understand our gratitude and thanks are enough in return for a gift we received.  When the giver sees our joy, our smile, and our appreciation, they have received what they desired.  Our understanding of the love and kindness the gift represents.  Authentic giving and receiving are acts of love that only comes from our hearts. 

Be aware of the feelings we have when offering a gift.  Are we being open, loving, and excited by the joy of the recipient? Or are we concerned about if the gift is better than the one we got from them?  Or if they liked what we presented.  Do we think we outdid their gift to us or our gift was the best one they received? 

How do we feel when we are accepting a present?  Be conscious of our emotions when presented with a gift.  Are we joyful that the giver is bestowing us with a token of their love and appreciation?  Are we reacting to getting what we wanted, or are we disappointed with what we got? 

Our gift to another is about showing love and appreciation for this person in our life.  Us receiving a present from someone is them showing us how thankful they are that we are in their lives.  This act of love is the essence of giving and receiving.  It’s a heartfelt behavior of love to another. 

Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. ~ Brené Brown

So how do we receive a compliment, graciously?

Why is it easier for us to accept a negative comment from someone and believe it than believe a positive remark from them? Deflecting compliments isn’t modesty; it’s rejection and self-defeating.

When someone says something nice to us, we need to resist the temptation to diminish their complement.  Sometimes we aren’t even aware that we do it.  You know, when someone comments on the beautiful scarf we’re wearing, and we remark, “This old thing?” 

When we dismiss their comment, we minimize their act of kindness to us.  This action has a two-fold consequence.  It perpetuates our feelings of unworthiness and rejects their love for us. 

We need to recognize that we have value to others.  Accept our unique and individualized awesomeness because we all are in our own way.  When we are given a compliment respond graciously with a simple “Thank you.”  Don’t devalue the gift they gave us.  Also, resist the urge to compliment them back.  We don’t have to give something in return for the kindness given to us. 

If nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart. Though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that—warm things, kind things, sweet things—help and comfort and laughter, and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all.  ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett

How do we learn to receive help?

Society praises independent people.  We see them as less needy. In contrast, we see dependence as taking more than is necessary.  Or we see the taking as selfishness or weakness by the receiver.   

We become empowered when we learn to receive support from others.  When we receive help, it’s because we’ve asked.  We aren’t taking it.  The giver is providing us with a gift, and we are thankfully accepting the help.  When we acknowledge the collaboration with others, we gain more by working together than struggling alone.

Also, remember how we feel when we’re asked to assist someone.  We gain self-esteem because someone recognizes our talents can benefit their work.  We enjoy the association with another because these connections are vital.  Helping others feels good, so by asking for help, you allow others to feel good about themselves. 

Asking for outside help, or even if it comes unasked, to allow outside help, needs a certain gracefulness and humility. Otherwise, you cannot allow outside help. Lots of people cannot receive something gracefully. Always, the social ethics have taught you that giving is important, taking is not important. Yes, taking is not important; taking is ugly, but receiving is very important. ~ Jaggi Vasudev

Are we balancing our giving and receiving?

Many of us spend a lot of our time helping others at our own detriment.  Hello, I’m Terri, a recovering volunteer.  I spent decades helping organizations with my time and talents.  Now, understand me, assisting others is terrific, but there has to be a balance in how we give of ourselves. 

In my last volunteer foray, I was working fifty hours a week and spending another thirty hours leading a local biker gang. I was swamped but not always productive.  My husband and I ran a local chapter of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association for six years.  I ran the monthly meetings, scheduled rides, wrote the newsletter, and planned all the social activities.  I did so much that I was depleted and ready to quit when my husband told me to ask the other chapter member for help. 

By asking for help, I could work in those areas that were my strengths and allow others to grow and expand their talents for the group.  I had to learn that for me to have balance in my giving, I had to ask for help.  And in doing so, I could relax, open my heart to receive their gifts, and then we were all successful, together. 

We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.  ~ Billy Graham

Wholeness comes from both sides of giving and receiving.

We have to both give and receive from the heart for our souls to grow and expand.  Giving is more comfortable than receiving, but we have to give because we love, not because of obligation.  When we choose to show another our love through a gift or act of service, we show our vulnerability to them.  They can choose to receive or reject our love token. 

When we receive, we connect with another and form intimate bonds.  We show someone our vulnerability by accepting their gift without attachments.  We release any shame or negativity about receiving when we let go of the egoic mind’s wrong beliefs.  By humbly receiving and showing our appreciation, we live within the wholeness and balance of both sides of this endeavor.  

We have to learn to trust that when we are given anything, there are no strings attached; it’s an act of love.  And when we give something, we have to gift it with no expectations of anything in return, other than seeing the other receive our act of love. 

The Dead Sea in the Middle East receives freshwater, but it has no outlet, so it doesn’t pass the water out. It receives beautiful water from the rivers, and the water goes dank. I mean, it just goes bad. And that’s why it is the Dead Sea. It receives and does not give. In the end, generosity is the best way of becoming more, more, and more joyful. ~ Desmond Tutu

Moving Forward by Giving and Receiving from the Heart

The Universe gives to us, and we receive, but we have to realize this daily occurrence.  The smile from a stranger, a co-worker holding the door open, and the compliment from a friend are gifts given which we receive.  Pay attention.  Be thankful.

As we head into the holiday season, examine why you are giving.  Are you gifting because you are showing your love, or do you feel forced to do it?  Are you offering without expectations?  If you genuinely want to contribute something from a place of love, then be discerning with the present. 

As a receiver, let’s make room for accepting help, words of kindness, and other’s smile.  When presented with a gift, relax, and enjoy the loving gesture of another.  Allow ourselves to open up so we can take part in the full experience offered to us. 

When we resist receiving, we also oppose giving.  To fully participate in the wholeness of the act, we have to take part in both sides of the process.  By doing so, our lives become more fulfilling because we can see the Divine in the practice, and it feels different. 

You cannot receive what you don’t give. Outflow determines inflow. ~ Eckhart Tolle

As we become more conscious of how we feel when we give and receive, we learn to give from the heart so we can receive the gift of love and kindness every time it is given.