The art of receiving

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As a parent, we give and give and give to our kids.  And then we turn around and notice our friends, partners or other family members and we give some more.  Then after giving all we can, we collapse into a heap at the end of the day whining about how we never have enough time to ourselves.  I get it.  I’ve been there.  But I think we each create our reality and we’re actually responsible for creating the lives we want.  So then I reach out, ask for help, and create support systems.

The problem is that when someone is willing to help me, I actually have to be able to accept that help.  I’m better at it now, but receiving hasn’t always been easy for me.  Sure, I was good at receiving physical gifts, but I wasn’t so great at receiving compliments or acts of service from my friends and family.  I used to energetically push those gifts away by minimizing, deflecting, or reassuring people that I had everything handled.

And then I had an epiphany.  I realized that just as I love to help, so do other people.  I noticed that when I was able to contribute to someone else’s wellbeing, my heart sang and then my heart immediately sank as I remembered all the times that I had been unwilling to receive help and support from others.  Now I know that when I reach out for help and graciously receive it, I am actually giving a gift to the helper.  They get to feel the joy and fulfillment of knowing that they’ve contributed to me!  That one tiny realization has completely changed my relationship to both giving and receiving.

This week take stock of all the times you’ve pushed away the help and support of your friends and family.  Really take some time to feel the heaviness and pain of having refused their generosity and kindness.  After you’ve felt the impact of that, figure out your particular style of pushing away the contributions of others and resolve to become a more skilled receiver.

You may tell your friends that it’s difficult for you to receive compliments but you’d like to get better at it and then practice by taking a deep breath and saying “thank you.”  If your habit is to refuse help when it’s offered, practice saying yes more often.  And if your tendency is to keep it together, try calling a friend for support the next time you cry.

You might feel vulnerable and exposed as you practice receiving, but that’s kind of the point.  I’ve found that the more I share and expose myself, the more intimate my connections become.  And, the more intimate my connections are, the more I can relax knowing that I have friends and loved ones who love me for exactly who I am on the inside (and not just what I project on the outside).

But, that’s probably a whole other blog post.  So for now, practice receiving and report back!  I would love to hear how it goes.  Have a great week, Shelly

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