Giving and Receiving | A Deeper Look at the Art and Soul of Giving
~ Published December 5, 2016 ~
Bringing awareness to the art of giving and receiving can enrich both our
own souls and those of others.
I'm sure you've heard the old adage that it is more blessed to give than to receive, right? And while it certainly feels good to give, there is no joy in the giving unless there is a gracious receiver on the other end. Both giving and receiving, if done with love and joy and openness, can act as a salve to soothe a tired soul. So if you want your life to really flow and be easy, it's best to learn how to do both graciously and happily.
Most of us have had our receiving wings clipped at an early age, especially women. And we've been conditioned to go overboard in the giving department. We need balance here because without it, we are constantly stressed and drained.
Let's just take the holiday season as an example. Holiday gift giving has become such a burden that we quite naturally associate the holidays with stress. This is ridiculous. The time from Thanksgiving through New Year's should be characterized by taking stock of the past year and enjoying the real meaning of the holidays. Instead it has become an "Are you ready for Christmas?" frenzy.
You can make your life easier and create your own heaven on earth right here, right now, by learning how to balance giving and receiving. You can give and receive in a whole new way-a way that honors and values Self and protects you from those who take more than they give.
The Power of Giving
Let's start our discussion with the power of giving, because few things in life are more satisfying than being able to give freely and from a full heart. This type of giving truly brings heaven to earth for everyone around you. And I'm not just talking about giving materially. Giving the gift of your time and your attention can be invaluable-to children, to animals, to other people. Giving of your time and attention to those in need-or just to give-feels fantastic when you do it healthfully.
Gifts of your time and attention that are obligations and duties, on the other hand, drain you. We are often made to feel guilty when we don't have the time or energy to volunteer or give our time and attention to a "worthy" cause. But our giving needs to include us. We need to give ourselves the resources to feel whole and replenished. Otherwise the well will eventually run dry. And we'll end up feeling resentment. And perhaps become bitter.
To give healthfully, you need to truly get in touch with yourself. Often we say yes to a request when we should say no because we don't want to face the consequences of saying no. We're worried that saying no will let someone down when we want to please them. Or perhaps we undervalue our time and energy and put the needs of others ahead of our own. Or we're worried that others will think we're selfish if we don't say yes. Or perhaps we just forget that our needs actually do matter-and they matter just as much as the needs of the other person.
But we all have to say no sometimes if we are going to keep ourselves healthy. To do this, we have to set benign boundaries in our giving and then stop when we reach those boundaries. You can do this graciously by saying, "Thank you so much for asking me, but I must say no to your request at this time." You also don't owe anyone a long explanation. Just say, "I simply can't." As Dr. Mario Martinez explains, "A benign boundary is reached when you can calibrate between resentment (you did too much) and guilt (you did not do enough). This embodied middle way allows you to take care of yourself without ignoring the needs of others. It's an action of what the Tibetan Buddhists call inclusive compassion: you are included in the compassionate act." What a brilliant solution!