I once knew this guy. He was considered to be -- and was in my own experience -- very generous. He would easily give of his time and business expertise in order to help anyone, friend or stranger. It even jazzed him up to talk about how much he loved to give. He became animated and emotional when he spoke about how great it felt to serve and be in community in this way.
Surprisingly, it was very challenging to be in relationship with this person -- because his propensity to give was matched only by his inability to receive.
He was so anxious about receiving that it once took a ten minute conversation, not including the subsequent follow up conversations, to convince him to take home some food that had been gifted to me. He had returned from a long business trip and had no food in the house. I had returned from a business sponsored dinner where large amounts of leftovers were split by the staff. He became visibly anxious and argumentative about receiving a container of Chicken Marsala.
When I initially called him, I was very excited to share this surprise of chicken bounty. After a few minutes, I became drained, exhausted, and eventually angry from trying to convince him it was "okay" to reach out and accept some Purdue. My excitement over sharing and helping was lost and buried under a layer of confusion and frustration as he expressed his discomfort. Any joy that I had when I placed the call had been sucked dry. I needed a nap.
Later, I became more frustrated when I realized how much joy this man stated he received from giving, and yet he would not allow me the same experience. Giving to him was not easy or fun or joyful. It was flat out an unpleasant experience.
One day, during yet another conversation about how he only likes to give, I finally let loose and said, "You are selfish. You are all about giving and that is selfish." I told him that for all the wonderful feelings and satisfaction that he gains from giving, that he personally robs that experience from anyone else when he refuses to receive. Since I was now warmed up, I continued my rant, climbed on the soapbox saying that to give is an inherent part of being in community and being human. To deny any other being their inherent capacity and creativity in giving was just plain selfish.
I've seen many people whose identity is concentrated on the giving. Some sincerely struggle with receiving and others struggle with the false pride associated of touting I'm a Giver. Either way, there is a lack of balance and possibly some issues with self-worth.
There is an art to giving and an art to receiving. Guess what – big news, here -- one is not more spiritual than the other. Both are needed for energetic balance and for there to be a continual flow of abundance.
I'm not talking here about people who only take. That's out of balance as well. Yet, if you find yourself judging someone who easily receives and delights in receiving, then examine your own true feelings about being a receiver. Your judgment and that dialogue in your head about their ease and delight is probably a good indicator that you have some energy to clean up.
It made me sad when I thought of how I have brushed off and not truly taken in someone’s compliment or gift. What did that feel like for them? Honestly, I was too busy dealing with my own uncomfortable feelings to worry about them. The anxiety that would rise up, the shallow breathing – yup – too busy to worry about their need for me to just relax and receive.
So Pinkies -- where are you at with this receiving thing? Do you only receive negative things into your life? Do you resist the flow of what it is you truly want? Do you have judgments about people who have abundance in the areas that you desire? Are you allowing others to experience the joy of giving?
Here’s a Pink Challenge and a twist on the good deed of the day. Allow someone (or something) the full experience of giving to YOU, Pinkie. Feel the flow of endless abundance that continues when we both give and receive.
Receiving with grace and joy,
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