“Once you get used to people giving to you as much as you give to them and receive all of the benefits of a less stressful life, you will not consider putting yourself last.” ~Amanda Owen
Recently a good friend of mine helped me with a workshop project. She formulated spreadsheets, answered multiple emails and questions, provided feedback to my group, and then participated in the actual event by doing a demonstration.
“I’m not going to cash your check,” she told me the following week, after receiving my offering for the work she did. “I just want to give this to you as a gift. You are my friend; I don’t want to get paid.”
This made me mad.
Well, not really mad, because this is my BFF we’re talking about. But it bothered me that she couldn’t receive and didn’t understand the gift she could give me by doing this simple thing.
The act of receiving with gratitude allows the giver to feel joy. Giving and receiving is a two-way exchange of energy that can nourish both parties, as long as the receiver can receive.
Our conversation lasted longer than I wanted it to.
“I get what you are saying,” she replied, and then I had to hear the word that made me know she didn’t get what I was saying: “but.” “But I really want to help you because you are my friend. I didn’t really do that much.” We continued in a circular argument.
“I need you to think about this differently,” I added, trying to rephrase my point, but it wasn’t going well.
Then I realized I was doing the same thing I was criticizing her for. How could I ask her to receive if I couldn’t receive the gift she was giving me by helping me out for free?
I love her for not wanting to be paid, for doing this for me out of the goodness of her heart, and she has a big one. I see the big gift she is trying to give me. I’m not ungrateful. I am a little stubborn though.
I wanted her to understand one of the basic laws of the universe—that you deny a person the basic joy of giving if you do not receive. But by not receiving her gift I was not being the best teacher. My resistance was stopping up the flow of abundance, and I was denying her joy.
I imagined that she was stopping up the flow by being unable to receive my check. So instead of feeling immense joy and excitement over being able to pay her, I felt dejected, which I know wasn’t her intent. Her intent was quite the opposite.
It’s all about connection, flow, and a dynamic exchange of energy.
When I give (energy, time, money, love, kindness) and someone receives it openly and gratefully, there’s now an open, flowing channel for more energy, time, money, love, and kindness to flow to me. My heart (and abundance) is in your receiving hands.
Understanding this means that I should have gladly accepted her gift of help. Instead, I was stuck in the need to be right and I couldn’t practice the lesson I was trying to teach!
Flow can be stopped up by only being a giver or only being a receiver. We need to practice an active balance of both.
We all know those who admittedly call themselves “givers.” I’m one of them. I picked a caregiving field as a career. I was brought up to believe that it is better to give than to receive. Over the years, I’ve seen people who give for a living burn out or get sick. I know there is a better way.
I was also brought up to be mindful of the needs of others. The hidden addition to that line is “before myself.”
No parent wants to teach their kid to be selfish, so we teach them to put everyone else first. How do we teach our children to be both good givers and good receivers? To be mindful of their own needs and those they love equally?
We must model to our children a life that fills us up. A life that is nourishing to our minds, bodies, and souls will create an overflow from which to give.
Wouldn’t it be nice to give freely from an overflow of energy, time, money, love, and kindness rather than try to give from our reserves and end up burning out? It’s not just nice, it’s spectacular! This kind of giving feels effortless, but it has to come from a fully nourished you.
We can do this by receiving and nurturing ourselves first. Here are a few ways I have learned to receive and create this kind of overflow:
Rest when tired.
I know that if I am exhausted, nobody will benefit. I take opportunities to get extra sleep when I can instead of grabbing the second or third Starbucks that day. I listen to my body and relax when it gives me signs of pain or fatigue.
Pushing through pain or fatigue only depletes you further and increases the risk of illness or injury.
Say no more often to allow time for rest and rejuvenation.
It’s hard to say no if you are a giver. But saying yes to everything will burn you out fast. I have learned to prioritize my life in a way that helps me only say yes when I really mean it so I can give from a place of excess.
Ask for and accept help when necessary.
I have learned that asking for help is crucial, and have gotten better and better at asking for and receiving it. You won’t get extra brownie points for doing it all alone. You will just burn out.
Get still. A lot.
Carving out time in my day for stillness, quiet, meditation, or breathing is so important to replenish my energy. I no longer value going from sunrise to sundown without a break. I realize that the more I am able to take this kind of time for myself, the more I am able accomplish during my “doing” times.
I have learned to recognize and separate myself from the voice that tells me I’m not worthy of receiving. I can also recognize guilt as an old, conditioned way of feeling.
Once you understand the amazing flow that is created when there is an equal exchange of giving and receiving, you will look at each moment as an opportunity to do things a little differently.
When you are filled up, fiercely alive, and overflowing with energy and enthusiasm, you can give from the stuff that is spilling over.
How can you give the gift of receiving? By receiving, you not only nourish yourself, you nourish and empower the giver. The real flow of giving and receiving can heal the world!
Girl giving boy a flower image via Shutterstock