Something that has flooded my mind lately: giving and receiving. What does it mean to do this in a healthy way? How have we been taught to give to others? Ourselves? How have we been conditioned to receive from others?
I’ve came to the realization that a deep, subconscious part within myself couldn’t fully embrace and accept what was being given to me. Whether it be compliments from strangers passing by, a friendly gesture from a colleague or friend, or even someone’s time. Never did I realize how unhealthy this could be for myself and those around me.
I noticed how common this was, in the way my friends put themselves down immediately after being given a compliment or the inevitable thought, “what does this person want from me?” directly after a simple gesture. For example, paying for my meal, giving me advice, giving me their time etc.
After days of contemplation and processing, I then realized, there’s a subtle language of giving and receiving.
On a night that happened to land on the “Snow Moon” (lots of healing came up for me) and after an unusual internal chaotic salsa class, I ended the night with an intense conversation with a friend who I invited to join the class. The back story: my friend helped me with personal endeavors prior to this. And, on a subconscious level, I felt it was my duty to give back.
So, I invited my friend to join in.
Throughout the class, a wavering pressure to manage my friend’s experience hovered over me. My heart and rhythm incapable of meeting the bottoms of my feet, as it always did. The worry of my friend’s experience not meeting high “standards” completely took me out of reality. The entire time all I could think was, “where is this coming from?!”
A few points/questions to knock down here
- Why did I invite this person to join in?
- I wanted my friend to be a part of something new.
- My friend showed interest so I thought, “why not invite this person to a class of interest?
Why did I place unnecessary pressure on myself to manage my friend’s experience? One could argue that the intentions were in the right place but it wasn’t coming from the clearest place. During the conversation, it suddenly hit me, I realized how“transactional” I had been in my personal relationships. Why did I feel obligated to give back only because this person helped me?
After expressing the reason for the invite, my friend then proceeded,
“I helped you with your personal endeavors because I genuinely wanted to help. I knew it would bring joy into your life, not because I was expecting anything in return.”
You can imagine, those words immediately hit me like a truck. It was as if the self-deprecating stories I adopted as my own were nothing but dust infested fables tucked underneath my bed. Ones that should’ve been left untouched.
There I was, standing in front of my friend, simultaneously existing in two different worlds. The merging of two unacquainted identities. The inner child that had no control over things that shaped me and the current me that wanted to desperately change the beginning and ending to my stories. I was helplessly confused.
I quickly merged back into my body. And, my “family constructs,” “childhood trauma” and any internal junk completely separated from me. I immediately realized these were no longer my stories. They didn’t need to run the narrative of how I viewed relationships or more importantly, what I deserved.
I was worthy of being loved and cared for. I was worthy of friendships that were unconditional.
Since I can remember, love came with attachments and conditions. I was taught that giving meant receiving something in return. And, that receiving meant that I needed to deal with the flooding of “obligations” soon after.
Why does this matter?
The models we’ve been given are entirely constructed by our family dynamics, cultural conditioning, and society. This could be holding us back from truly experiencing and connecting with one another.
Now, this isn’t some guide to convince you that how you’ve been giving and receiving has been completely, wrong. But rather, to explore how you’ve been giving and receiving as I too, explore the unraveling of my own ways.
Things to look for while looking inwardly…
Giving: Remain intentional, understand why you’re giving
When you’re giving to someone, look deep within and question the “why” of why you’re giving. Is it to gain something in return? Is it because you’re yearning for their love and affection? To gain, higher status? Acknowledgment? Appreciation? And if the answer is yes…to any of those. Reconsider where the expectations are stemming from. Consider, writing down the reasons you’re giving for your own introspection. Remain honest with yourself and the person. Perhaps, voicing it out could bring clarity to the situation: “I’m giving this to you because I felt guilty when you helped me.” Understand why you’re giving.
Receiving: Push through uncomfortability
I’ve found that we’ve constructed a society and culture that has conditioned us to believe that receiving compliments is wrong and sometimes deems us, “egotistical” or “full of ourselves.” This will feel extremely uncomfortable at first. Perhaps, even wrong or un-normal. Allow yourself to receive incredible opportunities in your life. Allow yourself the idea that you’re worth receiving joy, support and empowerment from the people and things around you. Allow yourself to receive love.
Receiving: Embrace fully
No matter how fulfilling giving may feel. So much of the process is realizing how to fully and openly receive from others. Once I allowed myself to take note of those tiny-moments, I noticed myself willing to give with more intention and clarity. When someone gives, allow yourself a moment to embrace the entirety of it. Without judgment and expectations.
Lately, I’ve taken into practice giving only when it’s coming from a clear place. Giving when my heart is full and the direction is free from expectations. Refraining from any need to make myself feel larger than anyone else. I know, giving and receiving seems like a social commonality and yet there’s a dynamic, subtle language that has been miscommunicated and altered in unhealthy ways over time.
So, what can we do? We begin with ourselves. Making note of how we are giving and receiving, looking within, taking it day by day, and granting ourselves the grace needed to move forward. And so, I continue forward. Allowing myself, in my own journey, to reshape and reform the subtle language of giving and receiving and what that means for me.
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