“It’s more blessed to give than to receive.”

 It’s staggering how often I hear this quoted in my work as a therapist as people justify their discomfort with allowing others to give to them. In all honesty, receiving is a concept I struggle with myself. In our “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” culture of self-sufficiency this has become a dangerous mantra.

 While I obviously agree with the idea that in a world that can be quite self-centered, we need to stress the benefits of giving. The warmth and connection generated when we look beyond our own struggles and desires, when we reach out to others, is important and healing. We step outside of our role as center of the universe and share our time, our talents and our gifts.

 I think we often miss that handling our entire life; our struggles and challenges, all alone can be equally self-centered. Giving is only one side of the coin and it is one that cannot be fully realized without its partner, receiving.

 Of course it feels better to give than to receive. Giving implies having. Receiving implies needing. Giving can involve being in the power position while receiving often feels subordinate.

 The problem is one of dualism. We’ve taken a whole principle; “giving and receiving”, and broken it into opposing pieces. (We’re pretty fond of the polarizing dissection of life in our culture.)

 We’ve taken a spiritual principle; one about the relationship between and the benefits of both giving and receiving, and used it to support and egoistic stance of being in the more secure position.

 In order to truly be in relationship we must be able to give and receive, to make ourselves available to others and to allow others to give to us. To allow ourselves the respite of care. To allow ourselves to receive love.

 May you find opportunities throughout the holiday season and in the coming year for both giving and receiving. May you find wholeness.