In our fast-paced world, giving is too often glorified. Giving creates accomplishment, which leads to success, self-respect and pride. While true, there’s an important aspect of this cycle that’s often overlooked—receiving.

Receiving is a skill. It helps you feel nourished and sustained by life’s circumstances and other people. It is an innate, animalistic need and ability that keeps you alive and allows you to regenerate yourself.

When you over-give, you risk many things: your physical health, emotional resilience, harmonious relationships, and sense of self worth. While abundant research tells us that we feel happier when we give to others, over-giving can become pathological and create burnout. If you are all about contribution and not also about receptivity, how bad are you at listening to and following up on feedback? It’s too easy to build self esteem on external approval when you are not skillful at receiving. It’s also too easy to develop a negative self image underneath all those accomplishments.

The term “burnout” applies to over-givers. Not receiving enough leaves you drained, depleted and over time, uncomfortable in our own skin. The world is not as warm and welcoming and you may feel deprivation because you aren’t creating the circumstances or getting the nourishment you need in life. Without receptivity skills, you may push people away, becoming isolated.

It’s essential to find balance between giving and receiving. If you don’t, all hell will break loose in your life eventually.

Here are five ways to build your receptivity skills and maintain greater health and balance in your life:

  1. Receive From a Photograph: If you don’t feel comfortable, or feel too vulnerable receiving from those around you, this can be a safe way to start receiving. Find a photo of someone you enjoy looking at. It may be of a loved one, someone you admire, a celebrity, or a stranger. I use a black and white photo of two models, a man and a woman in a magazine ad. I like the shapes of their bodies and the softness of the gray tones. It’s an easy photo for me to look at and it calms my eyes. Take a few moments to gaze at the photo and allow yourself to feel the energy it exudes. Let that energy, or chi, absorb into you. Feel yourself receive the kindness, beauty, memories, or whatever comes off the photo for you. This only takes a few minutes but can be powerful at changing your mood.
  2. Really Feel That Hug: Hugs are a powerful form of energy exchange between people. When you take the time to embrace your friends and loved ones, fully allow yourself to feel the warmth and love they offer. Absorb their energy like a sponge, and let it replenish your own. I call fake hugs, the ones people do but don’t really show up for, caca hugs. No one has their heart in a caca hug. Really feel into all your hugs and absorb the energy that comes back to you.
  3. Use Your Senses: Energy/chi flows in and out through all the holes in your body. Receiving can happen when you absorb through the openings in your ears, eyes, mouth and skin, so set aside a few minutes each day to take in through your sense organs. Listen to music or nature sounds, smell flowers, chocolate, the fresh air, or your child’s head, gaze upon something you find beautiful, be it a person, structure, landscape, art piece, etc., or touch something/someone comforting. Use your senses to receive more energy. This simple practice takes just a moment, can help calm your mind and open you to receiving more from other people and life in general.
  4. Invest in Receiving Oriented Self-Care: Take better care of yourself, for heaven’s sake! Allocate a portion of your time and finances to self-healing practices. Whether it’s a gym membership, acupuncture, massage, exercise classes, mental health therapy or vacations, investing in your well-being is an essential for building your capacity to receive and maintain balance. A side perk is that by taking care of yourself, you’re better able to care for others.
  5. Practice Mindful Eating: Your body is not designed to break down big chunks of unchewed food. I am sure you have seen whole pieces of corn, etc, come out the bottom end of you. That’s because without chewing your body cannot break down food and you cannot receive nutrients from it. Chew each mouthful at least 10 times before swallowing, and take the time to sit while you eat. Your abdominal muscles are more relaxed when you sit so your body can focus on digesting your meals. This simple practice can help you be more present and mindful, while allowing your body to better receive food in a form it can work with.

Being a giveaholic can ruin your health and your life. Receiving can feel good, even if you aren’t used to doing it.  So give yourself a shot at greater health and longevity, deeper passion, and self fulfillment. Walk on the wild side. Receive!

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