Love and support are the bridges I build every day to maintain the positive, long-lasting connections I have with others. But I’ve found that the love and support I readily give to others takes a detour on its way back to me, as I struggle to be on the opposite end of a good deed.
If you’re anything like me, extending a helpful hand comes second nature but accepting one back causes some hesitation. I’ve learned how damaging this hesitation can be on my close relationships, and ultimately, on myself. Though, I like to think that there’s hope for us givers.
There’s a way to accept all of the support that we deserve if we understand that doing so is how we honor our connection to ourselves and others. Becoming mindful of our giving allows us to be better receivers of the love and support we show others.
Getting to the Root of Hesitation
The hesitation I feel when receiving love and support from others can be overwhelming. My mind races with self-critical thoughts that have me already considering “what do they probably want in return?”
Being on the opposite end of a good deed feels awkward--and I experience this awkwardness in my body language and hesitant speech. But when did receiving become such a challenge for me?
Getting to the root of my hesitation allowed me to travel back to my childhood. What negative implications did receiving have? What did these uncomfortable feelings say about my perception of giving and receiving? I had to journey deep inside myself to discover the answers to these questions.
My need to be liked by others pushed me to control their perception of who I was. With giving, I had control. And I knew I could give in a way that supported my desire to be liked. Giving, at times, was a selfish act--one wrapped in a perfect bow of selflessness.
I knew that giving to the right person pushed the narrative that I was a good person, even if I didn’t feel like it. Giving came with an addictive power and control. Relinquishing this power and control allowed me to become a vulnerable person who gives and receives genuinely.
“...my life’s meaning isn’t directly attached to the things I can do for others.”
Another hesitation in receiving love and support from others was the belief that if I received something, I would have to reciprocate somehow. As the oldest of my siblings, I was depended on often. So growing up, I sometimes felt that I only existed to be of service to others.
On the odd chance that I could receive something, I was wary that maybe I’d be expected to do something in return because this was the norm. I was always doing something for someone else. And early on, I made up my mind that this “giver” label was the extent of what I could do in my life.
This label ultimately made it challenging for me to feel like I could be on the receiving end of love and support. But growing older, I have defined my life outside of the “giver” label. Now I know I am worthy of receiving anything from anyone who loves me.
Those who genuinely love me would never expect something in return for the things they can give me. Like I know now, they know that my life’s meaning isn’t directly attached to the things I can do for others.
Practicing Mindfulness While Receiving
I knew the only way my giving wouldn’t be in vain was to accept the same offers of love and support from others. But getting to a point where I could comfortably receive these things required a commitment to living a mindful life.
“Loving myself is a wholehearted effort in allowing love and support from others.”
Bringing mindfulness to the moments where I am a receiver, I become in tune with every uncomfortable feeling in my body. The way I half-smile, the unnerving inflection in my voice, the way my chest and shoulders cave in--these are the telltale signs of my inexperience with receiving.
And practicing mindfulness allows me to recognize the discomfort that comes with these signs. If you are a giver who doesn’t have the best experience in receiving, try these mindful practices the next time you’re on the opposite end of a good deed:
>Try not to force verbal acceptance right away. Finding the right words for the moment can distract you from recognizing how you genuinely feel.
>Sit with the discomfort. A mindful pause allows you to relax and pay attention to the discomfort. At this moment, you can notice any agitation within your body.
>Acknowledge the compliment/gift/support for what it is. Focus on what you are receiving. If you receive a compliment about your smile, for example, think about a time in your life that made you smile. Recalling this moment allows you to become vulnerable and receive the compliment wholeheartedly.
These are a few ways I bring mindfulness to the moments where I am receiving love and support. I hope you consider taking these mindful moments the next time you receive a gift, compliment, or support.
I have realized that giving is how I nurture the love I have for others. And allowing them to do the same for me is how we can nurture the love we have for each other together. Mindfulness has taught me that loving myself is a wholehearted effort in allowing love and support from others.
For all the givers that struggle to receive, keep building those bridges of love and support. But may you know to walk those same bridges back to you, doing for yourself as you have set out to do for others.