Receiving and giving are opposite energies that are inextricably linked together in the natural flow of life, like inhaling and exhaling. If one aspect of that cycle doesn’t function, the entire cycle ceases to function and the life force cannot move freely. If you can’t inhale, you will soon have nothing to exhale, and before long, your body will be unable to continue living. -Shakti Gawain
Generosity has a flip side that few of us tend to notice–it’s the side of us that accepts gifts and caring and other people’s generosity with graciousness and appreciation. It doesn’t reject what others wish to give us out of a false sense of modesty or a desire to seem humble to others; it allows others to give to us, and thus feel the great feeling that comes from doing something for us.
Somehow we’ve come to believe that it’s okay to refuse gifts or help from other people. We have to do things on our own, completely alone, and it may even be a sign of weakness to accept someone else’s help. But ask yourself this: how does it make you feel to help someone else out? It makes you feel pretty good, doesn’t it? Well, if you don’t accept help from others, aren’t you robbing them of the chance to have this great feeling for themselves? Aren’t you depriving them of the chance to learn what it means to give selflessly and to help another human being?
When we see a movie in which some character looks at a gift from someone else and criticizes it, we cringe and we start to despise that character, for we can see how damaging the behavior is. We know just how great it would be for that other person to have the gift accepted gracefully and gratefully. We see how selfish it is to think only of their own attitude towards the gift, and not the attitude of the gift-giver.
Inadvertently, perhaps, we all do the same thing when we turn down help when we turn down gifts when we disregard advice. As Shakti says, though, we can’t exhale if we never inhale; our giving will be weak if we never learn to take. One of the most generous things we can do for others is to learn how to accept their generosity towards us.
Questions to consider:
- Which is easier for you: to give, or to receive? Why?
- How does it make you feel when someone refuses your offer of a gift, help, or advice? What causes that feeling to come up?
- If we have to exhale in order to inhale, what effect are we having on others when we don’t permit them to exhale by learning to give?
For further thought:
We must realize that we cannot give love unless we can receive love. In order to give of ourselves, we must nurture ourselves.