The Art of Receiving

It’s been a really difficult year.

I lost my dad in March and my relationship came to an abrupt end. The fire of grief has coursed through my veins and burned my heart leaving charred out remains of what might have been. Work has been extremely busy and everything has taken twice as long because my thinking seems to have slowed down to a snail’s pace. My health and fitness has taken a battering, my clothes don’t fit me and if I dare to peek in the mirror I see a woman who has aged overnight. Everything all feels a bit too much, like wading through treacle, each step forward takes superhuman effort and willpower. Usually I’m strong and resilient but I’ve been down to the depths of some very dark places and almost got lost in the tunnels of my own desperation.

Yet I have been nourished, nurtured and held by some pretty amazing people.

My friends and family have gone overboard with their support and kindness. Gorgeous text messages, thoughtful gifts, phone calls, cards and unexpected visitors in the middle of the night who were worried because I wasn’t answering my phone. Generous and random acts of kindness all given with love, wide smiles and big bear hugs. In my darkest moments I knew I could count on any one of my friends for their help.

I always saw myself as a tough and independent woman who helped others because I had resolved my own emotional baggage. I felt a sense of self-validation being the strong one, the one others turn to for help. Yet this year I experienced that to receive from others is not as easy as you think. To admit to feeling fragile, vulnerable and weak is very humbling.

Every challenge we endure gives us the opportunity to experience a higher version of who we are. If that’s the case (and I talk about this truth all the time in my professional talks) then I should be flying with angels right now!!!

But I have learned an important lesson.

The ability to receive requires you to believe that you are worthy and good enough. Whether someone is giving you their time, a gift, a compliment or advice, they are unconsciously expressing that you are worthy of what they want to give you. Often as we journey through the mystery of our life we experience moments when we feel safe and secure. From this mind set we become open and receptive. We have increased energy that we find easy to share so that our actions become orientated towards being selfless. Then there are times when events conspire to hurt us. The pain oozes like a corrosive vapour that saps our spirit and drains our energy. We feel scared, insecure and isolated. This triggers a primal need to protect ourselves. We build walls of resistance around our heart and our inward focus causes us to become more selfish. To receive anything from others often demands that we let down our guard, accept that it’s OK to be humble and that we are worthy of receiving from others.

When we feel uncomfortable receiving whether it’s in the form of a goodnight kiss, a hug from our partner, or a stranger’s compliment, opening our hearts requires something from us that we’re not always willing to give: trust, surrender, vulnerability, emotional availability, and self-love. If you feel unable to love yourself, how can you accept a loving gesture from another?

Over the years I have learned two important questions that I ask myself if I’m experiencing problems with receiving. I wanted to share them with you so that you can support yourself to be open and accepting about the gifts you receive.

  1. “Why am I protecting myself?”
  2. “What judgement am I making about myself for me to reject this person’s gift?”

Many of us live in a land of ‘Quid Pro Quo’ and feel obligated to repay any kindness we receive from others. When you are open to receiving then you are open to life itself. When you can see your strengths as well as your weaknesses and accept that both are ok and worthy, then you notice that you soften and surrender more easily to unconditional receiving.

Having an inability to receive especially if you have a proven track record as a ‘giver’ will hinder your progress and enjoyment of life. But when we learn the art of receiving we have been given the key to the elixir of a happier life.

If you were to change one thing, one thought, one belief about yourself that would enable you to master receiving, what one thing would you change?