Every relationship has outflow and inflow. A give and take. Just as in nature, there is a constant circulation of energy coming in and going out. Throughout history, we have always seen the act of giving as strong, brave, and righteous and the act of receiving as timid and weak. But the outflow and inflow of relationships must be at a balance in order to live in harmony. Take breathing for example. We inhale and exhale equally to keep our bodies running comfortably. If we do one of those too much we can hyperventilate and cause our body to stop performing at its best.

Here are some of the symptoms you might be going through if you are off-balance with giving and/or receiving:

GIVING: (Giving beyond what you want to give OR being afraid to give anything for fear that you’ll be expected to keep giving)

  • Health issues (acute and chronic)
  • Being out of your body
  • Resentment
  • Exhaustion
  • Using drifts
  • You pride yourself on being selfless and particularly giving
  • You perceive others to be:
  • Needy
  • Ungrateful
  • Weak, helpless
  • Victims

RECEIVING: (Not being open to receiving what is offered OR Not asking for what you REALLY want)

  • Health issues (acute and chronic)
  • Being out of your body
  • Doing things you don’t want to do
  • Disappointment
  • Exhaustion
  • Using drifts
  • You perceive others to be:
  • Ungenerous
  • Having a hidden agenda
  • Controlling
  • Requiring something in exchange
  • Intrusive
  • Others give you feedback that you are “too needy” OR that you aren’t willing to receive

Why is it important to find a healthy balance in your giving and receiving?
Because we often have too much outflow and not enough inflow. In other words, we run the risk of over-giving. Giving is easy for us because the act of giving makes us feel warm and fuzzy. If you never allow anyone to reciprocate it, especially after all the giving you’ve done, you cause those warm feelings to stop. Remember that it is hard to “fill another’s cup when your own is dry”. A dry cup means the chance to become depressed or burnt out. It simply feels as if no one cares. When we give something to others, whether its something tangible or not, we feel we should at the very least get respect and recognition for those efforts. When we don’t get any of those an imbalance happens. An imbalance can cause damage to relationships, and thus, stop them from fully developing.

The Solution- Practice Receiving!
We often brush off the nice things people do for us. When someone compliments you on a job well done, I’ll bet your first instinct is to say something like “oh its nothing!” and move along. But really, if someone has taken the time out to say it, you should take a few seconds to receive it. Chances are you totally deserve the credit! It can be as easy as a smile and a thank you.

Here are some of my favorite tips to help you improve your ability to receive!

1) It’s OK to put yourself first:
Does the word “selfish” bring up discomfort for you? That is often one of the biggest obstacles to being able to receive. Many of us have inherited the belief that selflessness is the ultimate virtue, and anything that comes across as selfish can trigger shame. In actuality, being selfless all the time can lead to our own needs being unmet, bringing along with it burnout, resentment, and a subsequently diminished capacity to give. Learning to balance it out requires us to understand our value and worth in a different way. We have to be willing to accept that we are deserving of love and good things even when we’re not actively contributing. This is the first step in de-vilifying our relationship with enjoyment and pleasure. So if you notice yourself feeling selfish – even greedy – see if you can celebrate it inside yourself. Maybe using the word “self-ful” instead will help. Add yourself to the list of people you give to. You belong on the top of that list!

2) Ask for What You Want!
Even when we’re in a place that’s supposed to be about us receiving, it can be very easy to simply go along with what is happening because it’s good enough. Next time you want something stand up for yourself and ‘Ask’.

3) Trust the Boundaries of Others
One of the reasons we hold back from taking up space with our needs and wants is our fear that we’ll be too much for the people around us. But what if we could really trust the boundaries of the other person? What if they can do such a damned fine job of taking care of themselves that none of our care-taking is needed? So the next time you’re noticing yourself holding back from asking or receiving, do a quick scan. What assumptions are you making about what is ok for the other person and what is not? Then, check with them to see if it’s actually true. Notice if/how that changes your perception and your ability to receive.

4) Give yourself permission to get uncomfortable:
True receiving is deeply vulnerable. It exposes our underbelly of longing and needs. This can feel uncomfortable, even scary.

5) Dive into your enjoyment
The next time you notice yourself still hovering on the surface of your own enjoyment and not able to dive in, think of SCUBA diving.

  • Selfulness – Remember that caring for yourself is a good thing
  • Container – Set the parameters for putting a pause on giving
  • Upper Limit – Find your edge and stay in. If you’re a little uncomfortable at first, you’re doing it right.
  • Boundaries – Trust that others can hold them so you can let go.
  • Ask! – You can’t have what you want without asking.

As you do these things more frequently, you will learn to develop a healthy habit of receiving many wonderful things without that awkward feeling of shame. Remember that receiving is also giving. You’re giving the other person a chance to feel warm and fuzzy. Embrace those that wish to give.

Love and light