Cycle of Giving & Receiving: A Holistic Approach
Did you know that giving and receiving need each other to exist? Did you know that all opposites need one another to exist? That we could not turn something “on” if we couldn’t also turn that thing “off”; that what we understand as “cold” would be completely different if we didn’t have an understanding of “hot”; that we couldn’t consider ourselves to be “good” people if there weren’t “bad” people to compare ourselves against? It’s true. And, interestingly, opposites function as each other’s antidote as well. For example, if high altitude makes a person ill, they can return to sea level.
So, have you really - I mean really - thought about the interdependent relationship between giving and receiving? If you haven’t, now is a great time to do so considering the season of giving & receiving is upon us! The fact is, there simply is no gift to give without someone to receive it; and by the same token, receiving undoubtedly requires a giver. In other words, the act of giving and of receiving requires us sharing a healthy partnership to both acts in order for the cycle to be completed; or, you could say, for the circle to be whole (holistic).
This short list might get you noticing all the places giving and receiving lurks because it’s not just about material gifts:
- When you slept last night, you gave up some of your waking hours.
- When you ate eggs for breakfast this morning, you received them from some chickens who gave them.
- When you moved a piece of furniture into a room, that empty space had to give itself up for something to fill it
- When you got body work done by a professional, the professional gave of her skill/healing touch and you received it.
- Then, you gave her some of your money as payment and the professional received it.
And now look at how this partnership shows up in nature:
- Could a fire give warmth & light without first receiving wood - or charcoal or a gas starter?
- Could metals, crystals & gemstones exist if earth wasn’t willing to give of its elements?
- Could plants grow if water weren’t willing to give of its hydration?
The answer to each of these questions is no.
Notice, interestingly, in each of these scenarios that the division of giving & receiving need not be 50/50. Just like in the rest of our lives where we seek balance, it is merely a worthy aspiration, not a static place we arrive. In fact, there are times in our lives where a proper ratio might be 80-100% receiving. Consider a family who has just suffered a loss accepting love, flowers, food, shoulders to cry on, people to help do the day to day tasks that feel completely overwhelming in the face of the tragedy that has just occurred. It would be absurd to expect this family to maintain a perfect 50% giving habit during this time and for a longtime afterward. In fact, I’m in the camp that believes thank you notes for help given during a period of grief are a ridiculous societal expectation and should only be written if the act is felt as cathartic and helpful to the bereaved.
Also notice in these examples, giving & receiving do not have to be a one-for-one “trade” with each other. Think of a new mother who needs lots of support & is able to receive it in order that she can show up for the new little life that is now 100% dependent upon her for survival. Chances are, you’d never expect a new mother to be cooking a meal for her neighbors when she can barely consider getting dinner on the table for herself. The worst thing she could do for herself and her new baby would be to decline offers for help (or not ask in the first place) because when she is supported, she can then adequately support her child. Sadly, many mothers (and others) have learned it’s not admirable to accept help so the do turn away the gift of support. I hope that this blog along with a big societal shift in understanding self-care as well as accepting other-care will remedy this for all who are affected.
So, giving and receiving holistically requires that we engage in both giving and receiving. This seems obvious, but we don’t act like it’s obvious. We all know someone who is willing to take, take, take without having the foggiest awareness that they are taking more than they need without reciprocation or paying it forward. And then we each probably know someone who is a pure giver…they give and give and give in a way that is depleting of themselves, believing that giving is a “better” or more honorable act than receiving. Think for a second, though, what that says about those people they are giving to - should the recipients of their gifts feel ashamed that they are in the “less honorable” position of receiving?
We do need to, myself included, take this in and allow for a smooth flow back and forth from giving to receiving and back again in order for us to heal & help both ourselves and each other. We as people operate both as individual units as a whole functioning unit in our communities and even as a whole unit with people on the other side of this world we may never meet.
BUT, there’s an important distinction I must make: There is a difference between “clean” giving and receiving and “dirty” giving and receiving. What does this mean? Some gifts are given with strings attached and those gifts are not the ones I want you to feel you need to receive OR give.
Keeping in mind this applies year round, not just at the holiday season, here’s how you’ll know if you’re giving/getting a “dirty” gift:
- You expect something in return for giving your gift - even if you don’t want the exact thing in return (ie-give a material gift in exchange for the recipient’s time)
- You guilt the person you gave the gift to in one way or another when they don’t reciprocate
- You give a gift with the intention of that gift being used in a certain way and will feel offended if the receiver uses it in any other capacity
- You’re looking to score points (with partner, parent, God, …)
- You feel like you’ll owe something in return if you take the gift
- You feel like you’re being objectified by the gift (i.e. being expected to receive an unwanted compliment about your body)
- Intuitively it feels icky to receive whatever the gift is
- You’re trying to avoid a conflict by accepting
If you resonated with any of the list above and you’d like to bring awareness to your giving & receiving, ask yourself these questions. They will help you to avoid the trap of dirty giving & receiving:
- What is my intention for giving this gift?
- Do I give this gift freely with no expectation for anything in return?
- Am I only giving this gift because I want something back from this individual?
- Can I receive this gift and truly feel like the gift is mine to keep or repurpose how I choose?
- Can I pay it forward instead of back?
- Am I free of all unwanted binds to the giver of this gift the moment I say “thank you”?
Now that we are all on the same page and are clear that we are talking only about clean giving & receiving, can you both give and ask for help? Can you both give and receive material gifts or words of affirmation? Can you allow in/receive the newness that wants to come into your life while also letting go of what is ready to go (inhale/exhale; letting go of an old relationship to make room for a new one; packing up your items from an old dwelling in order to move into a new space)?
We think you can and we promise to be as conscientious as we can about this as well.
And one final important piece: let us not forget that you can give to you and allow yourself to receive from your own self! YES! Please please do and check out all of our offerings to see how we can support you in doing just that.
Here’s to letting abundance into your life and sharing it as well and happy holidays everyone!