Taking vs Receiving, a Lesson in the True Source of Giving

This post is about gifts, only because I’m writing it in December. Fact is, you could substitute money, praise, pleasure (sexual & otherwise), health, or any other concept you value. Each one is simply a form of positive energy, an expression of Love.

How many times have you heard/read variations on the idea that you will only get as much love (money, praise, etc.) as you give?

Have you ever considered the opposite? That you can only give as much as you allow yourself to receive?

Seems counter-intuitive, the idea of not being able to receive. Yet, some days I feel like the poster child for this one.

I have a hard time receiving:

  • A compliment;
  • An act of kindness;
  • An unsolicited gift, or one that’s more than I expected;
  • Any positive expression that goes above & beyond what I’m used to.

I have this way of deflecting positive energy with a retort, a complaint or a dismissal – “I have circles under my eyes, my hair’s a mess today”; “When you washed the dishes, you forgot to wipe the counters”; “I don’t really need another blue sweater”…

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Turns out, the more closed I remain to receiving, the tighter my fists get around my ability to give. In my house, I have a reputation of being somewhat of a Scrooge at this time of year.

The other day, my husband, our son & I went downtown for some Christmas shopping. Normally, shopping’s not my thing. I can get stingy when it comes to buying things for others, and I most often talk myself out of any item I want/need for myself. To dispel the discomfort, I usually plow through stores and get out as fast as I can.

You see, I’ve been programmed to be more comfortable with the concept of Give & Take. And, when I’m honest with myself, that’s what I do, I take.

Taking is an active, deliberate action. It’s based in the head. And it means I’m in control.

I picture it as holding out my hands or reaching with them. Sure, most times (though not all), I’m taking something that’s been proffered. But then it remains out there, at arm’s length.

When I reciprocate, or try to, from this perspective, it’s nothing but an exercise in tit-for-tat. There are no reserves for extras. Or, it sets me up for resentment when I overextend on the giving side. It’s also the place where obligation comes in, especially during the holiday season, when I’m being stretched to give in so many directions.

This weekend, I tried a new tactic.  I promised myself to go shopping with an attitude of trust, letting things unfold as they would.

I opened my arms to the day.

It was all pretty relaxing, and then our last stop was a little treat for me: checking out the new shop one of my favourite designers just opened in town.

The boys found some armchairs while I browsed and the clerk handed my son some pictures to colour, so I took the opportunity to try on a few things (maybe add some items to my own Christmas wish list). I felt like my son in the Lego section of a toy store, even picking out more than I usually would, just because they were so settled. I resisted the urge to rush through it.

I went out to model each item – pulled a runway pose or two just for the heck of it. The more fun I had, the more my husband’s face lit up. And the more pleasure he took in watching me, the happier it made me, until finally he asked which one I wanted…today.

I had to duck my head and nip back to the dressing room. It was what I wanted deep down, offered so generously, and it freaked me out.

Alone in the change room, I was able to make a choice as I calmed the tears of overwhelm.

Receiving is passive. It involves the Heart, and taking in the offered gift with open arms.

Receiving leaves me feeling vulnerable. And yet, receiving causes me to relax, expand and inevitably move outward again. I’m able to give from the Heart – offering of myself from a full cup. No pressure. No obligation.

I almost blew the moment by making a stink about the designer shopping bag my husband handed me – I get quite militant about using our own bags – but shut myself up in time.

What I learned so beautifully from what seems like an everyday event, is that when I receive a gift, I allow the other person the pleasure of giving to me. When I deflect what’s been offered, it’s like a rejection. It is a rejection.

Giving & receiving is a dance.

The natural flow of life.

Like the tides. Like the flow of blood through the heart.

It’s a spiritual practice of praying for what you need and meditating to hear the response.

An infinity symbol, continuously returning to the centre.

Perhaps I’ve already got one Christmas present this year: the resolve to ask for what I want, and the courage to receive what I get.

That, and pretty new dress. 😉

So tell me, what will you open your Heart to receive this Holiday season?

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