Last year was one of the most rewarding and challenging of my life. After suffering several personal losses amid building a new business, I arrived on the doorstep of 2015 completely exhausted. My well was empty.
The solution? Create a month-long, self-styled retreat in the comfort of my home because planning a trip anywhere else took more energy than I had. I excused myself from all but essential work projects, unplugged (mostly) from the Internet, saw just a few coaching clients and limited my social interactions to those that really nourished me (sometimes quite literally…more about that later).
This left gorgeous swaths of unstructured time in which to enjoy my own company and practice self-care.
It’s been delicious, though not always comfortable, and quite an opportunity to get better at the art of receiving, from within and without.
At first, I struggled with believing that I had the right to take the month off. I had to remind myself of all the reasons I’d “earned it,” all the hard work I’d done in the last several years, and all the ways I’d been there for others recently. That helped, but the feeling that I had to be productive still taunted me some days. Fortunately, I listened to my body and chose baths over business most of the time, stretching out my morning rituals until 11am.
Decadent…and perhaps just what the doctor would have ordered, if I’d consulted one. Instead I saw Danielle, an amazing healer who gently released years of accumulated tensions from my body via myofascial release work.
And so, during my birth month, I gave myself the gift of time and space to heal, and allowed myself to receive it. I also received gifts of all kinds from people who love me, from delicious meals and hot cocoa, to wonderful energy healing sessions, books and flowers.
All of this got me thinking about (and feeling) how challenging it can sometimes be to receive. Based on my own experience, and that of some friends I surveyed, I learned that:
–When we receive, we may think we have to reciprocate, and that can feel like pressure.
–Childhood wounds, abuse, shame and a sense of unworthiness can inhibit our ability to receive and make us mistrustful of those who want to give.
–We are stubborn sometimes, and unable to receive (from people, from life) if what’s being offered doesn’t match our desires or expectations.
–We may feel indebted to those who give to us, and that’s uncomfortable.
–Our hands have to be empty and open to receive, which means letting go of things that no longer serve us to make room for what does. We don’t always want to do that.
–Receiving, especially help, can trigger feelings of vulnerability and challenge our self-image.
–If we are habitual givers or people pleasers, receiving means relinquishing a bit of control.
–Those of us who’ve been super self-reliant have to get used to letting people help us.
You may have your own reasons for struggling to receive, or you might be a pro at it (if so, well done!). If you do want to improve your receiving skills, here are some ways to practice:
–When someone compliments you, simply say, “Thanks!” without deflecting or diminishing.
–When someone offers you something, say “Yes, thanks!” and enjoy it. (Unless it’s something awful, in which “No, thanks” works.)
–Bear in mind the joy that you feel when you give to others, and allow people to feel that same joy by giving to you.
–Practice being nice to yourself (in thought and action) so that you get used to receiving and feel attuned when it shows up externally.
Imagine no receivers on the field on Super Bowl Sunday. Who would catch the ball? Life, too, is a game of give and take. May you become an excellent receiver, from within and without.
Kim Childs is a Certified Positive Psychology Life, Career and Wellness Coach. Click here to learn more and schedule a free initial consultation in person or over the phone.