By Donna Shea & Nadine Briggss
A dear friend of mine (Donna's) in the dance community gave me this plaque almost ten years ago now. And it is true that there are some people in this world who tend more towards the giving side of things, and we all have met our share of the takers. In those scenarios, the taking isn't seen as a positive thing and usually leaves the giver feeling used or taken advantage of for his or her hard work.
But what about the give-and-take we talk about in friendship? Maybe it might be better to describe that type of relationship as give-and-receive? A friend does something nice for you and you are the recipient of his or her kindness. Then there are the times when something has gone wrong or there is an emergency, and you receive support or acts of caring such as a hot meal. Maybe you are in receipt of a compliment from a friend.
Why is receiving so difficult for some of us? I was talking with one of my 5th-grade girls last week about growing the ability to receive other people's admiration and appreciation of her talents. She is so humble and downplays herself in many different scenarios. I told her that in rejecting other people's appreciation of her, she is in actuality, rejecting a gift they want to give her. No one wants their gift handed back.
We all do this. Someone gives us a compliment on our outfit and we say, "Oh, this old thing?" or "I got it off the bargain rack." Someone thanks us for a job well done and we say, "Oh, it was nothing." Someone wants to give us the last of a delicious piece of cake and we say, "I'm good. You can have it." Where did we just end up? In a place of give-and-reject.
So let's try this. Remember that when someone gives you a compliment, it is a gift of appreciation. The response to the compliment on your outfit, or compliments in general, can be just a simple, "Thank you." If someone is showing their appreciation for your hard work on something, try saying, "Thanks, I'm glad that I was able to help." I have learned over the years that when someone offers me a gift of food or drink, that I hurt their feelings when I refuse. If I don't want it or can't have it, I still receive it and say, "This looks wonderful, I will save it for later on when I can take the time to really enjoy it."
My granddaughter is a giver, much like myself. I see a pattern arising that mimics mine in that she tends to like being the giver and avoids being a receiver. I explain to her that when I am offering to buy her something while we are out shopping, that it makes me feel good to be able to do that for her, and that I feel sad when she consistently refuses my offers on something new and cool to wear (although she never turns down shoes). I explain to her, as my significant other has to remind me of sometimes, that is perfectly okay to want something to treat yourself and receive it.
So let's continue to give. Because really, giving in the right way and context feels great and can give you a big optimism boost. But let's not forget that it is sometimes perfectly okay to receive.