The Season of Receiving

(To explain: this is an article that appeared in my newsletter last month. I solicited feedback with the promise of including some of the responses in my next newsletter. There wasn't enough room for that, so I'm posting it here. Feel free to share your thoughts in the 'comments' below....)

I started composing this email to you back when the full moon was rising on Winter Solstice, but as life would have it, my attention drifted elsewhere, and it never got done.

I think/hope the message may still be relevant and of use to you...

During this 'season of giving', I had been contemplating the topic of generosity.

When is it comfortable to give to others? When does it stretch us? And when do we feel pushed into a place of resentment and depletion?

I was reflecting on this recently at Quaker Meeting... sitting in silence and wondering why my first response to being called to give is often resistance. I became aware of a story I have - one in which I don't have enough time, money, whatever to step up and be generous. The fascinating paradox I uncovered was that to prove the story about lack as wrong to myself, I just had to begin with acts of giving.

Upon further reflection, I wanted to question where that story came from, and I'm wondering if what I uncovered rings true for others.

1) The reasons behind why we give are misplaced. If we're seeking love, approval, appreciation, acceptance or respect with our acts of giving, we can burn out - not to mention, harbor resentment and anger, which is very depleting.

2) We're drawing from the wrong well, or forgetting the necessity to replenish at all. For me, I've hung on to a very old and obsolete idea that my 'childhood experiences' left me with an inadequate reservoir. And it was almost as if I've been holding out all this time for that somehow to change.

Um, guess what? Ain't gonna happen.

Becoming an adult is recognizing that I'm responsible for my own replenishment and self-care. That there are a number of places I can reach for to give me a sense of fullness, here and now.

It also means that we humans, whether we like to admit it or not, are by nature needy and limited. This requires that we learn to receive and find a dependable source to draw from. Or many of them. It's the flow of which we are an inextricable part.

What needs do you have to be fulfilled in order to feel free to give? What depletes you? What can you count on to fill you up? How comfortable are you with opening up to Receiving? What forms of Receiving are you not comfortable with?

*Add your voice to the discussion in the comments section below....*

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From Maria CS Gabelberger, Psy.D. West Chester, PA (Licensed Clinical Psychologist, LightintheCenter.com):

"...you said it so well - giving has to come from the right place. An important place to 'give' is to ourselves - namely to follow our wants/passions, and to listen to our feelings and honor them as having something important to tell us - even the scary feelings like sad, mad, scared! "The dragon always has a treasure underneath."

My kids complain that I go to Aikido one to two nights a week, but I'm very clear with both of them and with myself, that if I did not do this 'filling'up', I would not be as good a mother. In fact, I remember when my twins were just born, despite the extra work involved, my husband urged me to go to Aikido - because he said, "I came back a better person." 

When we give from a centered place, it helps everyone - ourselves included. I think one can listen to the "still, quiet voice" (as we Quakers say) to help discern where this giving is coming from. When we are full on the inside because we gave to ourselves, then we have quite a lot to give to others, and the giving is valuable and fits with the flow of the Universe (and I experience that we then receive quite a lot back from the Universe - when we are in the 'flow')."

And from Susan C., Philadelphia, PA:

Regarding what needs do I have to be fulfilled in order to feel free to give - Exactly none. Giving, or do I need to call it "natural" giving, is a spontaneous burst from the heart. You see something or hear something or SMELL something that you think would delight someone near and dear. It is that simple. Maybe it's a flower or a stone or a song you can record for free. Maybe it costs money. Maybe it costs more than you have to spend so you just take a picture and make a card and let them know it made you think of them.

How comfortable am I with opening up to Receiving? It all depends. When it comes from the heart it goes straight to the heart. No effort involved. When it comes with an expectation or if it's aggressive and inappropriate (all subjective, subject to my personal interpretation, I realize)

I will conclude by referring to the story of two artists - the just out memoir by Patti Smith. It is filled with descriptions of their gifts to each other. Touching, exquisite, organic fruits from the tree that is (just?) real love."