Even though the famous words in Saint Francis of Assisi prayer, “It is in giving that we receive,” we must give and receive in the act of friendship. Yet, so many of us were called selfish by our parents, teachers or peers when we opened ourselves up to receiving. We were told to give of our time, our money, and our attention to those less fortunate or sometimes more fortunate than us. But when we give without receiving, we set ourselves up for low self-esteem and a life of martyrdom (which to some is seen as a virtue).
Some people entertain the idea of dying a martyred saint with an epitaph extolling the virtues of always giving and expecting nothing in return. This brings up another point that when we give, it is best to give without attachments to an outcome. People who keep score seem just as manipulative as the person who plays the martyr role. Let me back that up. When someone gives and blocks receiving gifts, kindness and compliments from other, they practice a form of manipulation. The other person on the receiving end is unable to close the loop of friendship which includes giving and receiving. That person feels in debt or that they have to prove themselves worthy of that energy they received.
I know generous people who have work to do around opening themselves up to receiving. They often pray for abundance, but when the abundance shows up, they give it away, tossing it like a hot potato. Oh, they’re most likely not consciously aware of their actions. And in a society that seems selfish and hedonistic much of the time, I’m certainly not advocating that people look out for numero uno and don’t lend a helping hand when necessary. Again, the circle includes giving and receiving; with no expectations. Remember we don’t want to pour guilt into our relationships with others. And we give with expectations in mind, we might just end up feeling disappointed. No one appreciates feeling obligated.
At this point in the conversation, confusion sets in because my concept of giving and receiving goes counter to what we’ve all been taught with the Golden Rule. And I would add “do unto yourself, which you wish from others” to “do unto others as you wish they would do unto you.” Giving to ourselves also qualifies as a generous act because what we give to ourselves we also give to the world. For instance, if eating a chocolate ice cream cone would bring you joy in a moment, then you walk around carrying a joy vibration spreading it like a healthy virus. Plus when we give to ourselves the things we love, we mirror self-honoring to the world thus giving others permission to do something that makes them feel happy too.
So next time someone gives us a sincere compliment, let’s smile and say thank you. This way we open an energetic circle of giving and receiving. When we accept that compliment we appreciate the giver and he or she walks away with a full heart. It’s like the man who has money he desires to give away and he can’t find anyone who feels worthy of receiving the money. And by the end of the day, this man also feels unworthy because no one would accept his gift. He scratches his head, completely confused wondering why no one would accept free money from him.
That’s a worst case scenario, but it plays out throughout society. For instance, did you know that I once read an article that Washington State had an unclaimed allotment of food stamps and this was during the economic collapse of 2008-2009? Either people who could use those food stamps either felt unworthy of receiving help or they didn’t trust the government. Some people feel guilt and shame when offered assistance or any thing that’s free. They either wonder about any strings attached or they believe that they’re only worthy of a gift if they’ve proved themselves in some way. And we can’t all win the Nobel Peace Prize or a Pulitzer Prize of Literature. We are all worthy of gifts and generosity. And the more we have, the more we can give to others without any expectations.