Receiving is a two pronged action: to be presented with something and to accept what is presented. The first prong is passive and the other active. Depending on our temperament, either passivity or activity is our preferred role of engagement in life.
With receiving, we are both passive and active, so receiving is difficult for all of us regardless of our instinctive preference for an active or passive living style. Through the growing maturity of self-mastery, we can come to enjoy both aspects of receiving. The key to this enjoyment is the ability to recognize the point where the passivity of being the object of a presentation evolves into being the subject accepting. We must bring our attention to this subtle and often overlooked point of metamorphosis to be comfortable with both prongs of receiving.
Recall or imagine someone giving you a kiss on the cheek, a birthday present, a complement or help with a problem. When did the active gesture of accepting begin? I use to have a real struggle with this when people would come up to me after I gave a talk. They would be presenting me with compliments, gratitude or other feedback. I could only focus on their gesture and felt absolutely clueless about accepting. I felt truly out of control as I didn’t know how to be engaged in accepting after spending time in the gesture of presenting in my talk. I might feel great about my talk but I felt lousy about the conclusion. It took me a couple of years to learn how to gracefully and actively accept what was presented to me. A similar situation is found in the role of mothering. Mothers give and give and give some more and although they may fantasize about receiving and enjoy the passive role in the initial gesture of presentation, they often struggle with the active role of accepting. This challenge is the source of the image of the mother criticizing all gifts from clothing to candy to doing the dishes.
Receiving actually feels incomplete when it remains passive and never becomes active. Imagine putting food in your mouth and trying to swallow without closing your mouth. You can’t do it. You need to actively and consciously close you mouth – willfully accept what food is presented to benefit from what you receive.
Receiving is a threefold relationship: we relate to the giver or presenter, we relate to what is being given, and we relate to the consequence of accepting.
Who is the giver? Is this a person you feel safe with? Do you trust their motives in giving? Do you feel they are qualified to give?These are questions that take us back to early childhood and our first caregivers. As children we were dependent on our givers but as adults we are not. We can be objective about our givers. We can decide if we trust the giver. The relationship to the giver shapes our willingness to receive. Did you early caregivers teach you about power and autonomy? Did they abuse or neglect or smother you with their attention? All this effects and shapes you ability to receive. You may want to reread the posting on refusing at this point.
Is the giver generous or indulgent? It is hell to be indulged because indulgence has no concern regarding the actual benefit to the receiver. Indulgence lacks integrity and wisdom. My readers are on a path of spiritual and personal development. They want to receive, be presented with and accept, that which strengthens – the gifts coming from the consciousness of generosity, not the compulsion of indulgence.
What are you willing to receive? What are you comfortable receiving?
Write down your feelings about receiving each of these presents. What does this remind you of? Do your best to get to the earliest or core memory of receiving this gift. Does your willingness to receive change with the giver? Your comfort or ease? Imagine the giver, first your mother or your father, a friend, a co-worker, a stranger, etc. for example, you may be able to receive compassion from your friend but not celebration.
What are the consequences of receiving? What expectations are in the giver or in you?
Reciprocity– the expectation to match the gift.
Gratitude – a simple and sincere thanks.
Indebtedness – the expectation that the return will exceed the value of the gift.
Pay it forward – the expectation that you will take what is received and pass it on to the next receiver.
The free gift – no expectation at all, not even for a thankyou.
Review your experiences with each consequence. You might also take a look at what you have attached to all the gifts you have given to others.
There are many more layers to the complex experience/capacity of receiving, but these reflections are a good beginning. Please share your thoughts on receiving.