Giving and Receiving

We all know how important it is to give – it’s actually good for our health. When we’re in the energy of abundance and generosity, not only do we feel good emotionally, but our immune system is healthier. In another blog, I talked about studies where one person showed a kindness to another. The serotonin level of those involved increased, as did the serotonin level of anyone who witnessed the transaction. (Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is important in mood maintenance, and is found in some antidepressant medications).

To be able to offer a piece of ourselves in some way is truly a gift – not only to the other person, but to the giver. I personally believe one of the primary reasons we are on earth in the first place is to connect with others in this way.

A book I read a several years ago also confirmed the positive effects giving has on our emotional and physical health. It was written by a young woman who had MS, and eventually became healthier after practicing the art of giving. The book was called 29 Gifts.

I took the challenge to give something to someone every day for 29 days. (If you miss a day, you have to start over). It was difficult at first to try to be creative and find new ways to give, but eventually it becomes a way of life. Ways to give show up easily and often when that’s what you’re looking for.

Recently, a client began to share with me how she performs random acts of kindness, and the joy she receives from doing so. I feel elated just listening to her!

But there’s another side that is more difficult and most of us find less comfortable. Receiving!

Our cultural values lean toward independence. We each want to feel we can manage our lives without help. But what happens when we can’t do that – when we need help? Most of us think we’ll show weakness if we allow ourselves to be helped, and we don’t want to be a burden on others.

But what we fail to remember at times like this is that, if the tables were turned, we would WANT to help the other person because it just feels good and we all need to feel the connection to others. If we don’t ask for or accept help when we need it, we’re actually denying others of their opportunity to share their love with us – and to feel that connection for which we all yearn. (As an example, those in the 12 Step Program know that it’s difficult to call a sponsor at first. We often use the excuse that we don’t want to bother them. But anyone who has been a sponsor knows that they receive so much more than they give. They do it because it helps them work their program to “carry the message”).

My husband and I recently were in a situation where we had to reach out to others in ways that were not comfortable. We were in a place where we didn’t know a lot of people, and we just couldn’t do everything we needed by ourselves. We reached out to friends and family for emotional support and we reached out to people we barely knew for some very specific and significant help. As difficult as it was, it brought us much closer to those people, and we now have an even stronger bond with them than we ever would have before.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Vulnerability is NOT weakness – it’s the core of our humanness.  It’s what brings us closer to each other and reminds us that we are all connected – that we all have many more similarities than we do differences.

Giving and receiving are BOTH important skills to practice.