The list of words that describe this simple gesture pervades all kinds of teachings, from spiritual and religious to conscientious entrepreneurship to success stories and life habits of extraordinary people.
For most people this concept, even if not necessarily executed in daily life to its full potential, at the very least rings true, and is something that is unanimously understood to be central to good character.
But giving has another side, and it is one that most people are profoundly uncomfortable about – if not completely averse to.
That other side is getting. Receiving.
Sure, when we are grateful when we receive gifts and more formal offerings, but how comfortable are you really with receiving?
The problem is deeply ingrained in most cultures, where the receiver is often plunged into a deep sense of unworthiness, entitlement, guilt, even haunted by resentment and jelaousy from others. We are trained from an early age to feel bad about receiving. It is the barter of good behaviour, it is the currency of appreciation, or more sinisterly, the emotional burden of a debt that expects to be repaid.
But for humanity to function on a simple basis around the principles of giving, compassion and generosity, for each gesture carried out someone necessarily must be a willing and grateful recipient. And sometime we must be that recipient. In fact the more frequently we show generosity and compassion to others, the more we must be prepared to receive it in return.
By refusing someone’s offering, we also do these three things:
- We short-cut the entire process of generosity – we effectively neutralise the other persons right and joy of such kind gesture. If we are not receiving, they are unable to give.
- We show disrespect towards the giver: we inadvertedly tell them what a poor judge of our character they are, what a looser they are for considering us.
- We declare ourselves unworthy recipients, and are unable to immerse ourselves fully in the joy of the offering. We can not possibly feel gratitude or respect towards the giver. We make it clear to all that we think as little of ourselves, as we do of the giver.
It also applies to how we conduct ourselves in business, this simple reluctance to be open to receiving has a terrible price: it naturally causes us to undervalue ourselves and what we offer.
Refusing an gift is not a gesture of humility, it is a sign of arrogance, ungratefulness, disrespect and insecurity. To make our world better we must teach oursleves and our kids to be great receivers as well as great givers. We need to teach, and practice receiving with deep gratitude, understanding fully the depth and significance of the offering, emapthising with the giver, and allowing ourselves to feel the true value of what has been offered. We need to teach that with that gratitude and willingness to accept, we are affirming the giver’s right to generosity and compassion.
Give, and get. Yin and Yang. When we are able to receive with reverence, gratitude and respect, we give something profoundly meaningful back to the giver, and allow the entire transaction to become whole. Without it, generosity too is stopped.