Until we can receive
with an open heart,
we are never really giving
with an open heart.
~ Brené Brown
Giving and receiving are integral parts of life. We engage in them both all the time, in small and large ways. When we are in the flow of life, giving and receiving are natural, easy and mutual. There is no keeping score, withholding or over-giving. There is no resentment or feeling of deprivation. This is a great ideal!
There are many people who live from a place of entitlement and take all the time, giving only grudgingly. Underneath this greedy desire for more is often a feeling of emotional lack that they are unconsciously trying to fill with whatever anyone is willing to give them, emotionally or materially. Their hearts are certainly not open, as they live in a place of constriction, fear and need.
There are probably many more people who are more comfortable giving than receiving. An emphasis on giving and discomfort with receiving can have many root causes. Often there is an underlying sense of lack of deservability. It may be difficult to accept that someone cares about you enough to give you something, be it verbal, emotional or material. This is especially true if deep inside, you question your own value. Someone else valuing you can throw you into a place of discomfort.
Truly receiving (and not just taking) also invites a certain vulnerability; an open heart is required to truly accept what is offered and allow it to impact you. If you have many years of protecting your heart, of defending yourself from feeling vulnerable, this will be difficult and perhaps may feel unwelcome.
Another reason why giving may be easier than receiving is that it may allow you to feel in control, or in a relative position of power. If receiving is difficult, then it is a relief to give more than receive, as it keeps those feelings of vulnerability at bay. However, this may ultimately cultivate resentment or exhaustion, as your heart is not being fed either by giving or receiving.
I encourage you to take note of how you feel when you are either giving or receiving this week. Is one more comfortable than the other? Is this experience reversed with certain people or situations? How do you understand this based on your life and history? Can you allow yourself to practice doing both with an open heart, remaining mindful of how you feel?
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift
and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that
honors the servant and has
forgotten the gift.~ Albert Einstein
We have the natural gifts of two valuable and complementary minds: the rational and intuitive. In this culture the rational is associated with logic and as such with the male mind. The intuitive is associated with feelings and is by nature irrational which in our culture has a negative connotation; it is often associated with women. Consequently, the rational mind is usually seen as being superior while the intuitive mind is often denigrated and seen as being less reliable and inferior.
Albert Einstein who was a creative genius turns this on its head! My guess is he speaks from personal experience: that his ideas came from his intuitive mind and he then refined them into theories through his rational mind. Thus he perceived the rational mind as the servant of the intuitive mind which is the fountain of creativity and inspiration.
Yet our culture has marginalized the intuitive, denying its importance if it is not "evidence based" or logical. This has happened in the field of psychology as well where cognitive behavioral therapy is increasingly valued over a less rational, more intuitive internal exploration.
It may be worth looking at your own thoughts and feelings about your rational and intuitive minds. Have you bought into the cultural construct that the rational mind is superior, not trusting or listening to your intuition? What kind of relationship do your rational and intuitive minds have? Which do you listen to? Which do you value more? Have you experienced the optimal interplay of the intuitive and rational minds?
If you discover that your relationship to the intuitive is not as developed as you might want it to be, there are easy steps to take to build that relationship. All it takes is listening, not discounting hunches, gut feelings, images, ideas that seem to come from nowhere or may not make sense. Pay attention and you will be richly rewarded as your intuitive and rational minds come into z greater sense of balance!
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley