This article had its beginnings when I had a conversation with someone about a mutual friend who was in mourning for a loved one. My friend remarked that this man, although always willing to give emotional support to others, had great difficulty receiving support.
"But then," she said, "who am I to criticize? I have the same problem."
Many of us do.
A great many cultures deliver variations of the message that it's better to give than to receive. This identifies us as good people, selfless, and perhaps even self-sacrificing.
We may also have been given the message that the appropriate response to a compliment is modesty to the point of humility. Ideally, we imply that we have never given a thought to the possibility that we have even a minor talent or gift.
Some of us may have been conditioned to the point where we believe that even to contemplate receiving in any form marks us as selfish, self-centered, and all the other bad self words.
Thus, by being giving people we believe that we earn the approval of others and avoid being the recipients of their disapproval.
The self-esteem issue is often closely entwined with the nature of a giver. Often we may unconsciously believe that we don't deserve to receive. As long as we are giving we don't have to deal with the issue of what we deserve to receive.
When we know that our self-esteem needs boosting we may try to enhance it by being givers. People thank us for our kindness and generosity, and we get to view ourselves as good people.
Being kind and generous also gives us power. We have the ability to effect change and improvement in the lives of others.
A related benefit is that we get to avoid feeling vulnerable. To me, this was initially the least obvious benefit of not receiving, so I suspected that it might be the most powerful one. In going further, I discovered that receiving challenges who I am.
Whether someone is telling me I have a gift I don't think I have, helping me to fulfill a dream I've somewhat given up on, or letting me know that I'm a fully worthy recipient of their love, the limitations I've made up about myself get stretched and occasionally shattered. Since I've, knowingly or unknowingly, set up those limitations for the purpose of protection, to avoid venturing out into unknown territory and being surprised, any loss of these barriers makes me feel vulnerable.
Giving spontaneously, without the need to bolster low self-esteem, to create a favorable appearance, to control relationships, or to protect oneself from vulnerability is a true act of generosity. When it is practiced in a way which is designed to protect our fixed ideas of who we are it bears little relationship to generosity.
When we refuse the generosity of others our energy is tied up in resistance, in the attempt to preserve our emotional/mental status quo. We find, as well, that our attempts to genuinely love and nurture ourselves feel like a struggle.
We may also find that our affirmations and attempts to realize our dreams seem futile. This is often true. If we are unable to be open to what is freely and generously offered we will have at least that much difficulty in attracting a new career, relationship, or fulfillment of other dreams. Genuine appreciation for what is available open us up to receive the dreams of our hearts.
And that is only the cost to us. Think for a moment about the reactions of people who give us compliments or gifts when we respond by refusing offers of help, or by denying the existence of qualities which the other people appreciate. The open-hearted givers take risks, make themselves vulnerable. The greatest gift they give is that of trust. To acknowledge this gift is to be generous.
When they are practiced with openness and sincerity giving and receiving are both generous acts. They are reciprocal acts of appreciation. The giver says, "You make a difference in my life." The receiver says "Thank you for your kindness in acknowledging me."
When we can genuinely both give and receive our connection to others deepens, and our lives become enriched. We learn the power of opening our hearts. We experience through that opening that to receive, as well as to give, is an act of love.
While rose quartz is always an excellent crystal for opening the heart to unconditional self-love, pink calcite has a special value of its own. It helps to release old and hurtful emotional patterns so that the heart can be open to receive and give unconditional love.
Citrine both enhances self-esteem and nurtures a sense of personal power which is free of any need to manipulate.
Amethyst is one of the best crystals for awakening spiritual receptivity; it helps us to see the spiritual meaning of our relationships with others.
A clear quartz cluster of any size helps us to appreciate how connected we are with others.
Oak (Bach) is for those who are excellent givers, always ready to shoulder someone else's burden (to the point sometimes of physical exhaustion), but do not do nearly so well in the receiving department.
Larch (Bach) is for those who feel undeserving of others' appreciation. It helps to foster self-esteem, and feelings of competence. ("Maybe I WAS helpful." "Maybe he/she does love me.")
Mallow (FES) helps those who need to learn to trust others. It helps us to receive love and warmth.
Yellow Star Tulip (FES) fosters empathy and an appreciation of others.
Buffalo (Wild Earth Animal Essences) helps us to appreciate what we already have, including the generosity of
friends, and that being able to share with our friends is true wealth.