“There is a secret about human love that is commonly overlooked: Receiving it is much more scary and threatening than giving it.” — John Welwood
As a prayer chaplain, I’m available to pray with anyone at my Unity church who asks for prayer support. After one of our Sunday services, a young woman asked me to pray with her. Afterwards, she shared that she was deeply grateful for the loving energy.
I was delighted that she approached me. It made me feel good and useful.
She admitted that it had been extremely hard for her to work up the courage to ask for support. In fact, she said it had taken her weeks to finally do so.
I wasn’t surprised to hear that. After all, I rarely ask strangers for help. And before I became a chaplain, I never once took advantage of the Unity prayer chaplains, even though I could have really used the support.
“It’s hard for me to ask for help,” she said. We talked about how it feels vulnerable to simply ask someone for a “favor”.
We talked about how that bit of vulnerability had paid off in spades, for both us. We were smiling, laughing, enjoying the connection.
Receiving is a deeply healing practice. And I really want you to try it.
- It feels good to help someone.
Consider how good it feels to give a helping hand. Remember how valuable you feel when your words are just the right ones that someone needs to hear. They are relieved and grateful. And you feel uplifted, useful and kind.
It’s nice to brighten someone’s day. So let someone else be your day brightener. They’ll be feeling good about themselves, all because of you.
- Receiving is good for your health.
Dr. John Sarno, author of The Mindbody Prescription, defined a cluster of personality traits he called “goodism”. People pleasers and perfectionists. Hard-driving, high-achieving empaths who feel overly responsible for taking care of others. This is goodism.
People with goodism are more likely to suffer from chronic pain and other symptoms than other personality types. In other words, being a giver all the time can deplete you and make you sick.
- You are communicating to the universe: more of this please.
If you were to assess all the areas of your life, is there a particular area where you are feeling really stuck these days? Maybe it’s a relationship, or finances, career or health.
Consider the possibility that the universe doesn’t know that you like to receive. How could it? When you’re the one giving yourself away.
Wherever our attention goes, our energy goes. Receiving – and doing it with presence – is like lighting up a big neon sign – an arrow pointing towards you. Abundance, this way. Abundance in all forms, please!
- You can’t give away what you don’t yourself have.
It’s amazing what you’ve done for humans already: the kind deeds, the shoulder to cry on, the thoughtful gestures. Just imagine what you could give if YOU yourself were actually filled up. Filled to the brim with energy, joy, humor, playfulness, vitality, love, worthiness. Just imagine. I think you would shine so brightly that the entire world would sit up and take notice.
- It feels really good
Doing things that feel good is powerful. Our emotional feeling state creates everything in our life, from good health to better relationships. Practice feeling good, and you’ll get more of the same. Specifically, practice what feeling good feels like inside your body. Your brain, your biology, your chemistry, your energy patterns – every part of your system, will start to re-calibrate to a new set point.
HOW TO BE A GOOD RECEIVER
Receiving is about allowing. It’s about allowing someone to see you. Or take care of you. Or help you. And doing it with an open heart.
It’s actually simple – pay attention to the givers already in your life. Both people you know, and strangers. Receive kindnesses with presence. Feel your body in that moment, and consider if it is resistant or accepting.
Imagine that you’ve just been given a compliment on your shirt from the check-out girl at the grocery store.
Notice your reaction. Feel your body (connect with your breath, or feel your feet on the ground). What emotion is arising? What words come out of your mouth? What is your body doing in this moment?
The body doesn’t lie. If you are not comfortable receiving compliments, your body will move on it’s own accord to resist the kind words. Perhaps your eyes turn downwards. Or you turn slightly away from the girl.
Without labeling your reaction as wrong, can you simply experiment with opening your heart a bit more? How would you do that, exactly? Use your awareness of energy to receive this compliment with your body. Perhaps that means making eye contact, or smiling, nodding your head, turning your shoulders to one side or the other.
Imagine you are embracing a close friend, and what the energy of that embrace feels like. Can you embrace this compliment the same way?
When you go to a restaurant, allow yourself to enjoy being served. There’s nothing you need to do here – it’s being done for you. Enjoy the feeling of sitting back. Feel your body in the chair. Open to it’s support. Move your eyes over anything beautiful – whether it’s the artwork on the walls, or twinkle lights or a well designed menu. Receive the beauty of this place.
If you need something special or extra, then ask for it. Allow yourself to enjoy being waited on. Fill up your senses – the sights, smells, tastes – and absorb this beauty and pleasure with slow relish.
Think of this as a meditation of sorts. Receiving grace, receiving beauty, receiving love and kindness into your life and into your heart.
ASKING FOR HELP
When you ask someone you know for help – notice what your emotions are around this question. Consider that you are giving someone you care about an opportunity to demonstrate their support for you. And you might have just made their day.
On the other hand, if you asked them to do something that they dislike (like taking out the trash), see if you can just receive the gift of them doing what they were asked to do.
Wherever you can in your life, allow and receive. Do it with present-moment awareness inside your body. Bring curiosity to the process. Invite new thoughts to replace old ones.
As Joe Dispenza says, “gratitude is the ultimate state of receivership.”
I love this. Gratitude is a wonderful replacement for any limiting thoughts that might be popping up for you like: “I need to down play compliments or else I’ll look conceited” or “I’ll be a burden if I ask for what I want.”
Why not replace those sentiments with this: “People are the best. I am so grateful. This feels pretty good.”
“I have come to understand that inner strength comes from receiving love as much as it comes from giving it.”
– Donald Miller
You’ve given your love, your attention and your energy to the world.
And now, it’s time to balance that flow of energy.
Each one of us is craving more connection. We want our life to be filled with meaningful moments. Allow that flow of energy and love to come your way.
Good luck! I want to know about your journey. Please leave a comment below.
P.S. If you have 15 minutes, watch the beginning of this talk from the visionary Dr. Gabor Mate, author of When the Body Says No. If you are a people pleaser, I promise that this video will inspire you to make a change.