A Daring Deep Dive on Receiving in the Season of Giving

two women hugging after gift givingI used to think I was selfish because, once or twice, I was told I was. At the time, I trusted others more than I trusted myself so I stowed that away in my “self suitcase.” And there it stayed—an ever-present reminder to put others before myself in every situation.

Upon studying this in myself and others, what I’ve come to find is that rejecting love is one of the most common tools for proving that you are not selfish. If you feel the need to prove you are giving, you may start to live by the belief that lack of receiving = giving.

It doesn’t.

I don’t know when I embedded this belief but I know when it stopped: a weekend retreat in Ojai. Overflowing with vulnerable shares, meditations, and ceremonies, we held space for one another to cleanse and clear and showered each woman with love and encouragement. Coming into the weekend, I was prepared to do that for others. I did not, however, consider how I would receive it myself.

I tuned in as some of the other women got encouragements or affirmations, responding with “thank you” followed by a moment of silence and a hand to the heart. Or quite literally saying “I receive that.” What was this, taking time to receive love?

It was during this time I realized that I thought the selfless way to receive love was to refuse love and give it right back. I became aware that if I was offered a physical gift, the first word out of my mouth was “No…”

I thought the selfless way to receive love was to refuse it.

Have you ever done this? If so, take note. When we refuse love that comes from an authentic place—when we give it right back—we are taking away the beautiful gift of giving itself. We’re taking away the warm love that sprouts in the heart of the giver. And, for that, it actually becomes selfish.

So I gave thoughtful receiving a try. Every time I was offered an ounce of love in this safe space, and every time I savored it—really received and felt it—the feelings of being unworthy of that love were pushed out of my body in the form of tears. It turns out, there isn’t room for both love and unworthiness. There isn’t room for both love and negative self talk.

When we receive love, love is what we become.

Put your focus on giving this season, yes. And when you are given love in the way of a physical gift, an encouraging word or even a hug, take a moment to thoughtfully receive it. Place the energy of this gift safely in your heart. Allow your cup to be filled so it can run over unto others. 

Thoughtful receiving is a form of giving in itself.

Leigh Maneri

Leigh is a brand strategist by day and self strategist by night—a seeker and teacher of transformation, from personal and professional growth to spirituality and conscious connection. She lives by the sea in Long Beach and plays mom to a scrappy dog named Ellie.


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