Have you ever stopped to think that it is actually more difficult to receive than to give? Your initial reaction to getting a gift is excitement. It could be a compliment, a declaration of love and affection, a tangible thing. But in a micro-second, you start to hear a tiny voice nagging at you, wondering if you deserve it, or if you will ever be able to reciprocate…or if the giver really means it.
In a way, we create a mental prison where we do not feel free until we have reciprocated the act of kindness. Some of the arguments in our minds when we receive are; “You do not deserve it…,” “now you have to give something back…,” “you cannot afford this…” We do not realize that refusing to receive leaves us empty, rigid and creates a psychological hunger that is never quite satisfied.
Here is the secret; our giving attitude is aptly in line with our receiving attitude. Once your mind is at peace with giving without grudge or expecting something in return, we will not feel under pressure when we receive. My doctor friend, Osas, told me once that the office assistant at the hospital where he works goes all out to clean his room. He does not ask her to, he does not expect her to, but she does it anyway. He thinks it’s because he gives her money. According to him, he is just trying to be kind but she insists on cleaning for him and this makes him really uncomfortable. This is where many people get it confused. A business transaction (where you have to give something in return for something) is different from an act of kindness.
The first step to receiving wholeheartedly is to keep your heart open when giving. Put this to test; drop a N200 note in a public place—say at Balogun market, where there is so much foot traffic. Watch from a distance while observing your reaction as to who will pick the money. You may hope a homeless child finds it, or a security guard. You unconsciously frown at the thought of a fashionista alighting from her car to inspect the tyre and stumbling on the note. Your mind starts to ponder on worthiness and fairness. Whoever discovers and picks up the money, you have to let them be and be genuinely fine with it. This will be hard but the goal is to reach a point where you can be at peace with watching a bank executive get away with your 200 Naira. If your giving ability is weak, your receiving ability will most likely be weak.
Once you have learned to give with an open heart, it’s time to receive without sending yourself on a guilt trip. You can even try to accept your own gifts without apology—if you have gorgeous hair, glory in it. If your toe nails are beautiful, appreciate them. Until you can appreciate your gifts and not wonder if the world thinks you are full of yourself, you may keep struggling with receiving. I, personally, do not think I am as beautiful as people say. I cannot say “thank you” to a simple compliment of “you look good.” My response would be “really? Or I say “yimu,” and many times, my friend, Lolade, says I have to learn to just say thank you and appreciate compliments without reservation. I am working on it.
The truth is, once you have begun to accept your own inherent gift and are opened to giving without expecting something in return, then you are ready to receive a gift from someone else. Although you may start to struggle with acceptance, unworthiness, or you may be haunted by fear that you now owe the giver something enormous, snap out of it. Let your mind accept it completely. Consequently, you start to accept the love that motivated the gift in the first place. Once you have sharpened your ability to receive with an open heart, you will be a better judge of which gifts are authentic and which are Trojan horses.
When a gift comes with deceptive strings attached—if it is not really a gift but a disguised bribe, it will feel repulsive. You can either politely refuse or accept it without becoming vulnerable to exploitation. My advice; politely refuse. Whatever the genuine gift—a compliment, tangible or concrete—hold it in your mind and say a sincere “thank you” to the person (without thinking less of yourself), because whether you realize it or not, they just added to your basic worth and you deserve it.
Have you ever received and felt obligated to give back to the person? Do share your experience.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Manav Lohia