At this time of year there is a feeling of generosity in the air. People’s hearts soften, families and friends join together, people donate to charitable causes, and many share gifts with loved ones. Giving is a wonderful thing, whether it is a compliment, a smile, a word of encouragement, or a material gift. It evokes feelings of pleasure and joy in both the giver and receiver. It’s not difficult to give, and as the saying goes ‘the more you give, the more you get’. But what about receiving. In a world where we have been taught to be generous and give there has been an underlying message that to focus on getting is selfish. We can see that if receiving was taken to the extreme and all anyone focused on was ‘give me, give me, give me’ then perhaps we would all fall into a cesspool of selfishness. But giving can be taken to extremes as well if we don’t allow ourselves to receive fully. Then we exhaust ourselves in giving to our families, work and community with nothing left over for ourselves. Perhaps the saying goes both ways; the more you can receive, the more you can give.
It’s not easy for everyone to receive a compliment without downplaying it, or a supportive hand without feeling the need to immediately repay it, or a gift without one to offer in exchange. It can be even harder to receive from oneself. And if it’s true that giving is easy then its not that it’s difficult to give oneself some positive encouragement, a bit of time to relax and play, a day at the spa, a new toy and so on, it’s that it’s difficult to receive these things. It lights up all those images of being selfish again so we immediately put a halt to any self-indulgence, lest we might feel like a greedy little piggy! It’s time to hit the delete button on those pictures and practice generosity with oneself. Then we will give to others from a place of fullness, health and joy.
Explore these questions to gain insights:
* What are your favorite things to give to others and your favorite people, causes, animals and so forth to give to? Why do you give, and how do you feel when you give?
* How do you feel and react typically when you receive a compliment? A hand or help? A gift? Do you feel the need to give back right away or can you just receive?
* What would you love to receive right now in your life – i.e. what sort of compliments, what type of support, what gifts? Can you give these to yourself? If not, what gets in the way (what feelings, messages and beliefs do you need to release)?
Try these inspiring ideas on giving and receiving:
* Practice giving to people just because it feels good – it may be as simple as a smile or a compliment – but try it in situations where there is no motivation of guilt or obligation, but just because you want to.
* When others give to you, practice receiving openly. Take in the compliment, say yes to a helping hand, have the gift without feeling the need to give back right away.
* Make a list of all the things you’d love to receive or have in your life right now (it may be intangible like time, relaxation, fun, or tangible like a foot rub, new gadget, piece of artwork) and make a commitment to give yourself one of these things each day for the next two weeks. If oogy feelings come up then remind yourself that giving to yourself is truly honoring yourself, and you deserve it!