I just had a birthday, and while planning a small party with my closest women friends I very nearly wrote “NO GIFTS!” on the invitation. Luckily I paused long enough to ask myself, “why no gifts?” Do I enjoy giving gifts to my friends? Yes I do. Would I feel slightly disappointed if they told me not to bring a gift? Definitely. So what part of me was contemplating saying “NO GIFTS” and why?
This got me thinking on the subject of giving and receiving. Forgive me for assuming that this is more of a women’s issue, but why is it so common for many women to be able give, give, give, and yet be so wishy-washy when it comes to receiving? Think about it. How many times have you flicked away a compliment with a self-effacing retort? Or refused help when it was offered because you really didn’t want to bother or inconvenience the other person?
Women, we’ve got a problem. The root of this issue is much deeper than I can dig up in a few hundred words, but when I think about being offered help, two images emerge: First, my inner child raises her chin and asserts, “I can do it myself!” And second, she feels embarrassed at being the center of attention as the recipient of a gift or help, even though, paradoxically, this is also what she craves. Could it be that we have unconsciously martyred ourselves on the altar of Self Reliance, thinking that this is what true equality means (it does not), and have hardened ourselves to our innate feminine receptivity?
I came across some material on love and relationships (an interest of mine, being a newly single woman) by intuitive Jennifer Hoffman (http://urielheals.com/) and these two questions really struck me: “Are you going to be the healer or are you willing to be with someone who does not need your healing? Are you open to receiving the love that you are so prepared to give to someone?” Ouch! Tough questions. And it’s not nearly as easy to say “yes” to them as one might think. When I cast my eye around for single men I am no doubt still drawn to the fixer-uppers. Why?
We’ve all been wounded in a thousand ways and have learned to refuse “gifts” all the time by closing our hearts. Then we battle like hell to compensate for being “incomplete” by being self-less, giving, helpful wonder women…doing everything in our power to make others feel our love. The irony is we must risk being vulnerable and open to receiving if we are to reclaim our wholeness. Give less, receive more, as it were.
When my birthday rolled around and my friends gathered, I was indeed showered with some beautiful gifts. But more than the things themselves, I was really moved by how each item reflected the giver’s sense of who I am. By opening my heart to receiving I felt known, and loved, and truly connected to my friends. And that, it goes without saying, was the best present of all.