• Irene Radley

How to Give and to Receive


I saw this double rainbow outside from the windows of our beachfront classroom. My first thought was, "Wow, what a gift!" My second thought was, "How lucky am I?" In marveling at this rainbow, I considered how it was that we feel grateful and receptive in our lives. Those two go hand in hand. We cannot fully be grateful if we don't receive what is being given.


Take for example, a compliment. If, when we receive a compliment, we feel the urgency to say a compliment back, then we do not have a chance to fully see ourselves in that other person's eyes. We are missing even a brief moment of divinity, a better version of ourselves that the other person might be seeing with a bit more clarity. We are also depriving the giver of the compliment the benefits of being altruistic with their words. It feels good to give, not just emotionally, but studies have shown that generosity is good for your health, too!


So here's an exercise: Next time someone pays you a compliment, smile. Curving your lips upward into a smile then taking a deep breath feels expansive in the heart/chest area. This way, you can accept their words with an open heart. Then, say something like, "Well, thank you so much!" Then go on with your normal conversation or walk away. Make sure you don't pay a return compliment.


In reading that, was there a part of you that felt uncomfortable? Did you feel some resistance to the exercise? This might be because most of us know what we want, and yet feel that we are not deserving. Even though we want to be noticed and recognized for being a good person, we are unable to receive actual human compliments. This is the problem with receptivity. Psychological phenomena such as Imposter Syndrome makes us feel unworthy of our achievements. These limitations are created only because our minds are limited to what we know. Our talents oftentimes exceed the data that we can process from our past, our present, and how we calculate the future. Thus, when we are rewarded with an opportunity beyond our known capabilities, we feel undeserving. Rising up to meet the challenge requires that a challenge exist in the first place. And when we level up, we then expand and create new neuron connections that changes our reality.


In our family, we have made a practice of sending out lists of what we want for Christmas. It makes the whole gift-giving exercise an easier one. But this year, I am going to make a little change. Instead of saying, "I want," I will instead say "I deserve." Because I do. And so do you.

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