In this season of giving, I encourage you to practice receiving. The majority of you are likely skilled at giving to students, children, family and friends, and most likely, not that good at receiving. I encourage you to challenge the notion that “It is better to give than to receive.” All dichotomies are false; there is simply no truth to a mental model that posits an either/or.
I am a giver. My life’s intention is to serve. And I’m starting to accept that I cannot continue to give without receiving. I’ve missed out on nourishment because I haven’t received all that I’ve been offered.
I am writing this from 1440 Multiversity, where I am watching a magnificent sunrise. The fractured light streaming around the redwoods, through the morning fog and the droplets of rain from last night, fills me with a sense of hope and awe and wonder.
What does it mean to “receive” this sunrise? I am not sure. But to ponder this question is enough. I am taking it in, observing the wisps of clouds streaming by, the cry of the crows, the subtle shift in the scent of the forest as the sun hits.
There were years when I gave (selflessly, I told myself) to my students, colleagues, friends, and partner. But my giving was disingenuous—I gave with an expectation of return. I was angry and resentful that my offerings weren’t reciprocated. This was not giving; this was manipulation. Then I pulled back on giving to others and focused on caring for myself, the balance between giving and receiving, and the intentions behind each act.
Now, when I give, I check in on my intention: am I truly giving from a place of generosity and good will? Does part of me hope to get something back from giving—loyalty? Love? Appreciation? And if so, can I acknowledge those needs (we all have them; it’s part of being human) and then can I give from a different place?
Sometimes I’ve felt empty because I give so much—I feel like I pour myself out into my writing, my teaching, my workshops, my team, my family—and that all that pouring leaves me empty. Now I stop when I notice these thoughts surfacing. I recognize that “pouring” is my choice and that I can give from a different place. When I do this, the energy I put out is transformed and returns to me as sustenance. I fuel myself through my offerings.
As I shift my intentions when I give, I’m also making a conscious daily intention to receive. In retrospect, I can see appreciations coming my way, but it’s like those offerings flew right past me—because for whatever reason, I wasn’t open to receiving them. All those expressions of gratitude whizzed right past me, unable to find a landing place in my being. I didn’t reject them, I just didn’t notice them at times.
Are you missing appreciations? Are you truly open to receiving gifts and gratitude from others?
Our receptivity to appreciations has to do with our sense of self-worth. If you don’t feel worthy, you won’t be able to receive. In this season, while you contemplate your self-worth, also set an intention to be open to receiving.
I know I’m worthy of appreciation, but I think I’ve missed many opportunities. Perhaps because I was too busy or focused on giving, or had complex emotions connected to receiving. These days, as part of my meditation practice, I’m setting an intention: May I be open to receiving all the wonders and joy and love that’s available; May I receive. It’s simple and feels transformational.
In this state of openness, I’m finding deep appreciation. Already this morning (it’s only 8:15am) I’ve experienced a glorious sunrise, and a rich cup of coffee, and a hot quiet shower, and much more. I’ve experienced them as gifts, as offerings that nourish and energize me. I’m learning so much on this journey of discovering my internal reserves of resilience.
Sending you much love and wishes for wellbeing in this season. And receiving yours as well.