Monday, December 7, 2009

The Art of Receiving

By Amy Phillips-Gary

Are you uncomfortable or even resistant to receiving?

During this time of year in which gifts are often exchanged, are you most focused in on the giving?

It's quite likely that you are. When I think about giving and receiving, giving comes out as somehow more important in my mind.

We tend to live in a culture skewed against receiving.

“It's better to give than to receive.” was probably taught to most of us growing up in our families, churches or schools. The stigma of those enrolled in low-income public assistance programs is still present today-- what about those proverbial bootstraps we're all supposed to pull ourselves up by?

Even when it comes to favors, there's a common discomfort when someone has done something helpful or nice for you and you haven't had a chance to reciprocate, or the person won't seem to allow it.

It's quite apparent that not only have the majority of us learned that it is more virtuous and noble to give than it is to receive, there can be a touch of superiority attached to the act of giving.

Don't get me wrong here. Giving is a potentially wonderful act. It is vital to our world and is admirable when freely and mindfully practiced.

My point is that if you close yourself to receiving, you're missing out...and I don't just mean on all of those presents and favors either.

When you resist the receiving part of the giving-receiving exchange, you block the flow of life. You also short-circuit a potential connection with another person or group of people when you close down to receiving.

In addition to cultural reasons is the unfortunate fact that deep down, many of us feel unworthy of what's being offered. This might be experienced as an urgency to prove ourselves or maybe a sense of shame about who we are.

So here we tend to be, caught among wanting to feel noble and appropriate by mostly giving, battling with our perception of unworthiness and-- at the same time-- wanting improvements in our lives.

We can't figure out why the relationships, the financial situation, the career or the overall experience of life we want don't come to us when we're working so hard and giving so much.

Here's probably's because we aren't allowing ourselves to receive it.

Consciously shift into a receiving state.
If you can identify these tendencies within yourself and you'd like to more fully open to the flow of life, set an intention to do so and then follow through.

Become aware of the thoughts, beliefs and habits that you tend to use as barricades to receiving. What do they look and sound like? When do they tend to surface most intensely?

Use this information to begin to interrupt yourself when you start to shrink back from a desirable offer of help from a friend or even a compliment. During each opportunity to receive, invite yourself to open up a little bit more than you usually do to what is being given.

You can practice this several times a day.

When a family member gives you a hug, consciously relax and open yourself up more fully to the love and physical contact that's being offered. If a neighbor wants to carry your groceries to your home, give yourself permission to say yes if you choose it.

Bring your attention and awareness into this present moment and be a full participant in the sharing that's happening right now. Whether you're opening a gift, sharing a kiss, listening to another person's words or allowing a helpful gesture, engage as you receive.

As you shift into a receiving state, you can still decide to say no or decline a gift. It's up to you to decide which offerings, words or gifts are in alignment with what you truly want.

I encourage you, however, to make potentially receiving your “default” state and approach to life. The positive effects can be amazing!

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