Give It Up
By Karen Wright
"It is more blessed to give than to receive." This frequently quoted statement is said to have come from Jesus himself. But, your earliest exposure undoubtedly came from Mom and Dad whenever you selfishly focused on your own wants to the exclusion of others. Like when you wouldn't share your favorite teddy bear with your slobbering, ear-pulling cousin.
It echoes in my ears from yesteryears past and it continues to silently pit my sense of ownership against brotherly compassion. Of course, as a female, society had its own subtle way of molding my little mind into the ultimate giver. That, coupled with the hormonal predisposition to care for others, pretty much guaranteed that I'd feel good when I gave and guilty when I got.
Self-care was never valued. To do something because you wanted to was considered self-serving. To refuse another's request was selfish. Who do you think you are anyway? So many of us ignore our own needs and desires. We fill our lives with doing for others and never ask for help when we need it. We get embarrassed if someone notices how nice we look and twist the compliment into a self-effacing rebuttal. We'd rather chop off our right arm than faintly disappoint even our most loathsome enemy.
But is self-denial the path to happiness? No. If you're a dyed-in-the-wool giver, consider this. Giving and receiving are ultimately the same. Sure, it's impossible to give unless someone receives and it's impossible to receive unless someone gives. But the relationship between give and receive goes deeper. They are both about connecting.
Givers connect with the receiver when their gifts are received. Receivers connect with the giver when they accept the gift. Regardless of which end of the exchange we're on, it's the connection we long for. We want to know we have a place in this world and that we each matter.
Indeed, giving generously can be a magnificently satisfying act when it's consciously received. It's also incredibly deflating when it's rejected. Receiving can lift the human spirit when we truly let it touch us. But, receiving can be degrading when we feel unworthy.
If we truly understand the energy of give and receive, we'll take our focus off the object of exchange - whether it's a physical gift or a favor. What's important is the moment of connection when both the giver and receiver recognize their spiritual bond. We are not separate but one. You cannot give in the spirit of compassion without also receiving and you cannot receive in the spirit of gratitude without also giving.