Receiving as an Act of Love
Are you one of those super self-reliant people who has no problem giving to others, but the thought of ever asking for help or RECEIVING from others causes you great distress? There are many “selfless givers” who feel they are being good friends, partners, or family members by giving without ever asking for help. Societally we are conditioned to distance ourselves from being perceived as one of the “takers” of the world and abhor the idea of ever being perceived as *gasp* selfish or worse: narcissistic. Giving is a loving act and is viewed favourably societally (think how we esteem those who are always willing to “give you the shirt off their back”).
But here’s the thing: Receiving is also a loving act. When we resist being a receiver of some sort of kindness, we are limiting intimacy and impeding deeper connection. We know from the research of Brené Brown and others that vulnerability is the birthplace of connection. When we deny someone the chance to give to us, we resist the vulnerability of receiving, and thus the beauty in deepening connection. The other person too is denied the feel-good experience of giving (which is its own gift).
Letting Love In
I refer to the art of receiving as “letting love in”. For those who derive their sense of worth from being task-oriented, this is not comfortable (for more on this: https://blacksheepcounselling.com/2018/05/measuring-up/). There can be an unconscious belief present that one needs to “earn” positive attention from another through gift-giving or the accomplishment of something that benefits another. We know from research that one of the greatest gifts we can give to another, is holding genuine and compassionate space for them…being truly P-R-E-S-E-N-T (for more on this: https://blacksheepcounselling.com/2017/07/holding-space/). Being truly present with another or becoming more gracious in the receiving of kindnesses requires vulnerability, a personal exploration on self-worth, and practice! I often give my clients “homework” around Letting Love In. This does not require one to go about and seek anything that isn’t already presenting itself. The difference lies in choosing to “let in” the compliment from the stranger, or bask in feeling the warm glow of your boss or co-worker esteeming the job you have done, or allowing someone to pay for your coffee for a change, or finally saying “yes” to that person that keeps inviting you to get together with them. Human beings are hardwired for connection. When we are feeling disconnected from others, all aspects of our wellbeing suffers. Giving AND receiving is what tightens bonds, deepens connection, and improves our quality of life.
What are some ways you can Let Love In?