Last July, I virtually joined a three day retreat about relationships and reigniting passion in our lives. It was incredible. Transformative. I am still growing and having major perspective shifts and changes of behavior that have been snowballing since that retreat. I have met incredible people, acquired amazing mentors, and live an inspired life.
One of the many topics we discussed over the three day retreat is the different forms of love. The goal is to live one’s life with the third type discussed there – Unconditional Love. The mantra is “Show up to give”. As a sucker for Unconditional everything, especially love, I took that mantra, and even set an alarm on my iPhone to go off every morning with “show up to give” as the alarm message. The point of this type of love is: when one shows up to give, without keeping score of what they are getting in return, they enrich themselves with all the giving they are doing and feel energized, wonderful and fulfilled, and – usually – the receiver of all this unconditional giving is so grateful and happy with all the getting, and naturally responds with giving unconditionally in return. Doesn’t that sound like the freakin’ solution to all world problems? Yeah. So, who doesn’t want to get on that bandwagon?
I don’t, that’s who. Initially I was drawn in, thinking, “yes, this is what I need to be doing to fix all that ails my family” :). Show them unconditional giving, they will be so grateful and give in return, and then they will feel so full of love and happiness that they will automatically give unconditionally to their siblings (forget about how they will treat the rest of the world – I’ve got bigger issues like sibling rivalry to deal with ;) ).
And so I tried to live by that mantra. And, guess what. I failed miserably. I felt weighted down by that alarm and soon cancelled it. When I tried to show up to give I felt burdened and unnatural. And I wondered, am I so bad at giving unconditionally that I can’t handle this? That thought was immediately dismissed. I KNOW (from years of giving to the point of exhaustion) that that is not my problem. What is, then, I wondered?
After much thought and analysis of my behavior, I have come to the following profound conclusion. Yes, this mantra is the ideal. For those who have a healthy balance of giving and taking. I, I have learned over the years, do not yet have that balance, and so this mantra does not yet fit me. What am I talking about? Well - and I know that so many of you reading this right now are the same way - so many of us (especially women) have a hard time RECEIVING. Man, it even makes me uncomfortable to give it all capitals. Whew. I mean, receiving is a dirty word for some people. "I am made to give", their inner conscious feels. I am a giver, to my spouse, my kids, my work, my community. But not to myself. I am not supposed to TAKE. Taking is BAD.
It took me years to override this voice in my head. Whether it comes from a sense of low self worth, from education, programming, or how your role models worked, this ingrained message is so damaging for those who bear it. Not being able to receive is just as bad as not giving. Why? When you do not open yourself up to receive, YOU ARE BLOCKING OTHERS FROM BEING ABLE TO GIVE. Think about that for a moment. You are messing up the whole karma of the world. We are supposed to give. That, intrinsically means we are supposed to take. Wow. Life changing thought, isn’t it. G-d and the whole Universe want and NEED me to take, to receive, in order for things to work properly. Yes.
Sit with that for a moment. Take that in. How does that feel to you? Are you squirming? Do you feel this huge rush of relief through your body? Either way, know it. Be aware. That is always the first step. Then, start to live it.
I have to tell you, and it has literally taken years for me to reform myself, it is so freeing when you allow yourself to receive. You are balancing out the harmony of give and take in the world, and you feel it. Relationships will change. Your work will change. Your inner life and well being will be transformed.
So, first, we start with the mantra of “it is natural and good to receive” or “when I open myself to receive I make this world a better place to live in”. Powerful, huh? First we master receiving. Most of us have already have the giving part down. Only now, once we have mastered receiving, the giving will be so much different. Why? Because we will not need to search for the energy to keep doing so. Our cup will be so full to overflowing that it will naturally spill forth. And doesn’t that just sound amazing?
So, today, take some baby steps. Let someone make you a cup of coffee. Allow someone to do you a favor and ENJOY it. Allow a stranger the honor of doing something nice for you like opening the door to leave the grocery store. Don’t feel ashamed. Don’t get flustered or refuse. Give that stranger the gift of being able to give. You will make him feel freer for it. You will be actively doing your part in giving to the world as if you were doing the giving yourself. Because you are.
Giving someone the ability to give to you is making this world a more wonderful place to live.
With love and joy, and the freedom of knowing how to receive,
PS It is important to note that it will take a while to recalibrate your balance of healthy giving and taking. Those of us who have a hard time receiving will wonder over and over “am I taking too much?”, “are people resenting me for receiving so much?”. Stop worrying about others. How does it feel to you? Do you feel good, once you get past that discomfort of receiving? Keep giving at the same time. Find that balance. But let those who love you (and those who don’t) give to you. Allow it to happen. Open the gates and balance will arrive, on its own.
A Note From Beit Roga
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