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The Gift & Art of Receiving


By Carmen Greger

Are you someone who does everything for everyone always without hesitation, not ever wanting or even accepting anything in return? Well, lean in and listen up, because it’s time to open up and accept the blessings that have been trying to come your way.  Natural givers often have a difficult time allowing themselves to receive, until the true understanding of the concept that ‘to graciously receive is actually a gift to the giver’ is actualized, embraced and activated.

What do you have a challenging time receiving?

Compliments…Most of us have a difficult time just being willing to accept even a simple compliment.  Oftentimes we deflect, diminish or deny it all together. But why would accepting a positive comment about ourselves make us so uncomfortable?  The next time your coworker mentions that you have the best hair ever, could you just try to not say ‘oh, this ratty old mess, it’s like taming the beast every morning’ and instead muster up a sweet, sincere ‘thank you so much, that’s very kind of you to say, that may have just made my day’, or something to that effect.  Do you see what a difference that little shift into awareness, appreciation and acceptance makes in that moment?  You receive the complement and offer kind words in exchange; this perpetuates good feelings all around.  Can you just imagine the cumulative effect small shifts in response like this can have on the quality of your relationships, your attitude, your energy, your work, your play, your days, your weeks, your years, your life?  Start the practice, you’ll see.

Gifts…..Presents for Birthdays, Holidays and special occasions, or even when your friend whips out their credit card to pay the server before you do and insists on treating, are also often challenging to receive.  ‘Oh, you shouldn’t have!’ or ‘Oh, goodness, that was way too much’, often spills from our lips. Perhaps a joyful ‘thank you, I’ll get it next time’, or a ‘wow, this bracelet is stunning and will go perfectly with the dress I’m planning on wearing to an event next weekend’ or, ‘wow, you really are an amazing gift giver; it’s so obvious how much care you put into selecting exactly the right thing for the lucky person receiving it; it’s a real talent of yours, thank you, this is so thoughtful, I’m so grateful!’.

Accepting Help…..So many of us try to manage everything on our own and asking for, or even accepting unsolicited help in any form, is a foreign concept, or at least highly uncomfortable.  When we respectfully accept someone’s help and express sincere gratitude for their offering, it is a gift to the person helping you. Independence is good and functional to a degree, but we are meant to be interdependent, and we thrive when we are more connected to, involved with and caring for (as well as being cared for by) others.

Next time someone offers to help you carry that 5th grocery bag you’re so intent on juggling, let them, who knows, you may strike up a sweet conversation that leads to a forever friendship!

Or when you arrive at the store door at the same time as someone else and they reach to grab the door handle, please don’t tackle them for it so that you can be the first one to do the good deed, just smile and say thank you and realize that surrendering and accepting is also an act of kindness. And when your best friend offers to do double carpool this week from school pickup to activity drop-offs so that you can focus on your first week at your new job, which just happened to come at the exact same time that your Mom planned to visit for the week, let her.  No need to don the Wonder Woman suit unnecessarily, save that for a day you really need it.  You’ll reciprocate soon! Another win-win.

This also applies to accepting emotional support (‘crying on someone’s shoulder’ or having someone ‘lend you an ear’), friendship, community medical, family and a variety of other support groups are so helpful in combatting isolation and loneliness. People are here for you, just reach out and let them reach in; they want to help.

‘No (Hu)man is an Island’ (a modernized version of the famous John Donne quote) .

Advice…Similarly, we often hesitate to ask for advice, even when a good dose of friendly insight could offer an objective perspective and do us a world of good.  When you trust and respect someone enough to ask them for input on your situation, it’s a complement, one which is often fully appreciated and embraced by the person from whom you courageously sought guidance.

Invitations…Accepting Invitations can often be equally and positively impactful for both giver and receiver.  Sometimes it seems like accepting an invitation to dinner, a movie, a show, a volunteer event or a meeting for a committee or community outreach group, or a party for the daughter of a friend you just met the day before is a burden for the person doing the inviting.  It’s not at all.  Your presence is a gift to so many people in so many ways.  Say yes to something new, proactively get out of your own comfort zone, curiously expand your horizons and let the good move through you, and expand beyond you, by your active engagement in community.

Recognition/Attention..When you are recognized for something unique, special or outstanding that you have done, said, created, achieved and/or supported, please do not pass on the opportunity to be acknowledged publicly simply because it’s uncomfortable for you to be in the spotlight.  Use that platform to openly share your journey, insights, skills and lessons learned along the way so as to inform and inspire whoever is listening or watching.  You never know how much you can help someone believe in and achieve their own dreams, simply by listening to how, perhaps even against all odds, you fully showed up to manifest yours.

Money/compensation for time/expertise…Ahhh, money – sometimes a tough one to navigate. Let it move through you and then pay it forward. It’s as blessing for all.

I have a friend who is an undeniably gifted gardener.  Although it took many years for her to do so, I am happy to report that she is finally accepting monetary compensation for her unique talents and exquisite work.  Joy was what originally sparked her to volunteer her time, skills and expertise, which grew exponentially with each seed she planted.  Word caught on and she was booking herself left and right with what eventually became a full-time job without monetary compensation.  She eventually realized that although she was very passionate about her work and those she served, she was becoming physically depleted by days’ end and didn’t leave much time for rest, recovery and relaxation before the next morning rolled around.  She decided it would be an excellent idea to hire a massage therapist to reduce the built-up tension in her body from the endless physical demands of her work, enhance her vitamin and supplement regimen and eat primarily organic, nutrient dense foods that she would purchase from the ‘expensive but worth it’ local organic & gourmet market so as to boost her energy.  These things, she realized, cost money.  The money in this situation is essentially an exchange of energy; she receives compensation for the good work she does and spends a good amount of it to invest in her vitality so that she can continue to thrive in her newly established business and in her life overall. The gardening client wins, the gardener herself wins, the market owner, the supplement production companies and the organic farmers all win, simply because she was finally willing to say yes, accept monetary compensation and perpetuate the good.

Yes, she still does some good volunteer work, plenty of it and always will, but she knows the worth of her work and values herself enough to gratefully accept payment from those lining up, willing and wanting to pay her to revitalize and beautify their outdoor spaces.

Recently, I traveled to the Outer Banks for our annual family vacation.  Our wonderful neighbor volunteered to watch our dogs (mind you, there’s one more than there has been in previous years, nonetheless, her lofty enthusiasm was unshakeable and truly infectious).  We were thrilled that she was available, as the dogs love her, and she adores them just the same.  Two walks, two feedings per day, two potty trips, for two!! dogs… that all adds up (not even including the time she so lovingly took for the daily photo-shoot she was so thrilled to share). Upon our return, as we do each year, my children and I gathered and wrapped the newest version of her lighthouse souvenir, along with a glass jar of shells and the sprinkle of sand she requested and tucked in some monetary compensation (which was less than half of what it would have paid to board them in a place that wouldn’t be nearly as peaceful for the pups) for her time.  Each year it’s a similar situation; she says ‘no, thank you, I was SO happy to do it; it was SO good for me’.  And then we lovingly say, ‘if you don’t accept it then we won’t ask you for next year and that’s sad for everyone’. Then finally, she accepts, and we all feel good.

Perhaps the next time you are in the position to receive, in whatever form the gift coming towards you presents itself, you will remember the gift, art and impact of opening up to it fully, with an open mind, an open heart and open arms, and become the vehicle for the positive energy to catalyze through and expand beyond you as you mindfully pay it forward in one way or another.

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