Christmas is a time of giving.
I love to give gifts! I put a lot of thought and love into sending gifts I think people will like. I don’t always get it right but I hope people can feel the effort and love that goes into it.
However there was a time when I would give and it felt like my gifts were received with ingratitude and indifference. Indeed I think many people feel that they give a lot more than they receive and just wish everybody else was as thoughtful and giving as them.
Maybe that’s you? Do you give, give, give but feel that you get a lot less in return?
Well, what if actually this has nothing to do with others lack of giving, but is in fact because there is a limit on how much you are able to receive?
And that when you learn to receive more, people will give more.
I believe that the number of gifts we get is directly proportional to how good we are at receiving.
And I am talking about all gifts – support, love, help … not just actual physical gifts.
Several years ago I went through a phase of winning something in every raffle I entered. I went from winning nothing ever, to winning all the time and it felt amazing.
This lasted several months until, a friend of mine invited me to attend a workshop on colours. She hadn’t got as many people to sign up as there were places available and because I had supported her a lot during the year she invited me along as her guest.
I was delighted – I’d never had my colours done and the morning was very insightful.
As part of the day everyone who attended was entered into a raffle.
But at the time (this is about 7 years ago) despite having won several things, my ability to receive was very limited. As I hadn’t paid to be there I felt I didn’t deserve to win the raffle prize.
So I gave it back!
I said it was because I didn’t think I’d use the products although I also admitted that I felt I shouldn’t win because I hadn’t paid.
And you know that moment when you realise that you’ve made an error of judgement and suddenly everything becomes awkward. I felt that on a massive scale.
But I couldn’t turn back time and simply receive the gift with love (which I would totally do today).
And in fact my friend was actually delighted I’d won. My declining it offended and upset her – which was NEVER my intention.
Since that day I’ve never won anything on a raffle.
But I did learn something much more valuable – that gifting, when given with love and no expectation of anything in return, gives as much, if not greater, pleasure to the gifter than it does to the receiver.
That day, I received a beautiful lesson in how to receive with love and gratitude.
And this I believe is a natural skill we’re all born with – babies and toddlers don’t have any issues with receiving – but we’re taught to say “no” to gifts out of politeness from a very early age.
Therefore if we want more in our life, we have to re-learn how to receive – and practice it daily. It’s like a muscle we have to exercise for it to strengthen and grow.
And we learn it through the little things – like receiving a compliment.
How do you respond when someone says “you look great!”
Do you respond with “thank you” or try to deflect it in some way?
When someone offers help do you accept? Or do you decline because you don’t want to put them to any trouble?
When you’re offered a drink or something to eat do you accept when you truly want something, or do you decline out of politeness.
When I was little, my brother and I went to a tea-shop with our Mum and one of her friends. Mum’s friend was treating us to afternoon tea as a thank you to my mum. When we were asked if we wanted a cake, my brother and I both politely declined – even though we soooooo wanted one of those delicious looking cakes. Our mum’s friend was really touched that we said no (although thankfully she insisted).
I was rewarded for being polite instead of asking for what I truly wanted!
No wonder it took me years to learn the art of receiving again!
As soon as I started paying attention to all those little occasions I declined gifts, compliments and offers of support I realised just how challenging it was for me to receive.
So I started practicing saying yes to every offer of support.
I said “thank you” (and nothing more) to every compliment.
I said yes to every offer of help.
And I got much better at receiving.
It is rare these days that I will decline an offer of support. And because I’m now great at receiving – I have a LOT more energy to give and support others in ways I would have felt put upon in the past.
I LOVE being asked to help – and if I can I willingly accept. However I’m also not afraid to say no if helping will impact me in a negative way.
Christmas time is GREAT time of year to practice receiving – I hope you have lots of opportunites to accept compliments, gifts and offers of help.
And I’d love to hear your gifting stories – do share below.