I want you to close your eyes and think for a few moments about the last time you received with grace and ease.
Was this receiving accompanied with a feeling of deservingness? Did you acknowledge yourself fully, unabashedly, unapologetically in that moment? Were you able to look into the eyes of the giver and thank them? It doesn’t matter what was shared, it could’ve been attention, a compliment, gift, promotion, new friendship, pleasure, money, a hug, kind gesture or any other acknowledgement. Did you really receive it with gratitude, grace and ease?
Our culture values giving way more than receiving. There is a moral greatness attached to it that everyone aspires to. If we’re not giving – our time, resources, energy, love – then guilt and shame chase us down till we’re fully enveloped in them, desperate to give even more to compensate for this disgraceful moment of not-giving-enough. Women, particularly mothers are naturally drawn into this web of guilt and shame if we are not giving, giving, giving.
And then one day we stop.
We feel angry, resentful and misunderstood for giving so much of ourselves and not receiving enough. And these three words spill out of our mouth “I’ve had enough”.
And in that moment of blocking of our giving side, our suffering truly begins.
There is a card in Osho Zen Tarot deck (yeah, my cards are worn out) The Queen of Fire is “Sharing” her energy, love, laughter, wealth, gifts with joyful abandon. She doesn’t take inventory, knowing deep within that the supply doesn’t ever stop.
Each woman is, in her true essence, the Queen of Fire. She has the capacity to experience this explosion of love, compassion and generosity in her heart that guides her to share her joy, laughter, love, blissfulness and ecstasy with any and everyone.
She doesn’t hold back, all she wants to do is share.
And yet, we find ourselves saying “I’ve had enough” way more than “I want to share all I’ve got”. Why is that?
In my understanding, this is because we suck at receiving. And when we block one entire half of the equation, the other becomes lopsided, creating imbalance and dis-ease in our body-mind. We get tired, resentful, angry and frustrated. And sick.
Imagine if the tree said to the sun and the river: “I really don’t want to receive sunshine or water. All I want to do is give fruits (or shade) to the world.”
We can’t survive, leave alone thrive, celebrate or truly shine, if we don’t learn to receive well. (Tweet it)
When we squirm uncomfortably during a hug, brush off a compliment, hastily put aside that gift (and promptly bring out ours), refuse that spa treatment (“I don’t have time for that!”), pretend the promotion never happened: it not only creates an unhealthy imbalance in us, it is offensive and hurtful to the giver.
As we head into the holiday season, there is both a sense of excitement and trepidation: we look forward to it, but also wonder if we might get exhausted from giving, arranging, offering, shopping. But when we open our hearts and minds to the idea of truly receiving then the stress-levels start to plummet.
So here’s a proposed experiment for the next few weeks: receive all compliments with grace and ease.
- Don’t diminish the compliment by talking about how old or cheap the dress/accessory/scarf/shoe is
- Don’t negate the compliment by offering another one right away
- Take a few deep breaths and allow the compliment to truly sink in
- Look into the person’s eyes, feel your heart, and express your gratitude
- Allow yourself to experience the joy of receiving a compliment
- Share this joy whenever it overflows
In the comments below, tell me whether you’re good at receiving and if you’ll try the proposed experiment?