Learning to Receive

Give. Connect. Receive.

Giving & ReceivingOn the surface it seems so simple, representing what Diva Connection is designed for:  giving to other women, making the connection, and receiving things you need.  But, like many things, if you dig a little deeper, this simple three-word phrase holds so much more.

A couple years ago, I was feeling stifled.  A friend was doing a wonderful job of gently pushing me to do some closer examination of myself and to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses.  I thought I had so much to give; the only thing standing in my way was finding a place for all my love to go!  Nicole Phillips’ grandmother’s poem sums up this feeling that I think is familiar to many women when she mentions the limitless amounts of love we give and how this is what imparts meaning to our lives.

However, a reflection from my friend handed me a wake-up call that I wasn’t very eager to answer.  He saw my biggest weakness as an inability to receive.  Excuse me?

First off, I disagreed, as I saw myself as perfectly adept at receiving love from my husband and son, praise from my parents, and gifts from thoughtful friends!  Besides, receiving has such a negative connotation in my mind when compared with giving.  Receiving too much makes me feel greedy, selfish, and narcissistic.  I was perfectly happy to focus on what I had to give, thankyouverymuch.

Fast forward two years, and this same friend now tells me that my ability to receive love is one of my strongest assets and one of his favorite qualities in me.  How did that happen?

Turns out, there was some truth (I said some; I’m not yet willing to concede all) to that little nugget of wisdom from my friend’s perspective.  By focusing all of my energy on what I had to give, both emotionally and in terms of time and efforts, I was creating a barrier to the types of close, fulfilling relationships and connections that I was seeking.  I just didn’t realize it.  I thought that by always being the one to listen, to ask questions, and to give advice, I was holding down my half of the relationship teeter-totter.  But to enjoy the ride, you must go up and down.  By always holding my end down, I was never giving others the chance to really give to me.

Teeter TotterNow I try to remember how good it makes me feel when someone allows me to give to them, whether it’s a material gift at Christmas, holding the door open when someone’s hands are full, or giving the gift of my presence to listen and nod politely.  By allowing myself to receive these same tidbits of thoughtfulness, I am actually giving too – I am gifting others the fulfillment of giving to me and having it be warmly received.  This could also be called a connection.  Just as I want to truly know others, they want to truly know me.  I don’t think of others as selfish or self-absorbed when they receive my love, so why would they think that about me?

Like everything in life, it’s about that ever-elusive “balance.”  Give too much, and you can turn into a doormat, or the pushy Marie Barone.  Receive too much, and entitlement starts to seep into all of your interactions.  Everything in moderation, as my mom has always said.

Fortunately, Diva Connection’s mission is to create a community in which women can both give and receive as needed to empower themselves and enrich our world.  Our founder, Chris Linnares, teaches a seminar called Diva Dance.  One of the steps she requires of the women is to ask for help no less than five times in the next week.  FIVE TIMES!  Asking for help makes us vulnerable, but it creates an opportunity for us to receive.  Receiving gives someone else the chance to give.  Giving creates a connection, a relationship, and makes us feel good!  It’s a beautiful cycle, but one that cannot work on giving alone.  We’re all in this together, and graciously receiving holds just as much weight as heartfelt giving in the Diva Connection community.