Confession: I am a giving person.

So much so that it’s actually quite hard for me to accept help or even ask for it. My own stubbornness can be detrimental to getting things done – or at least not taking forever to finish them! I rely so heavily on my own abilities (which I am intensely grateful for) to be able to figure it out. And my desire to pay it back is overkill in certain situations. Even when given compliments, I would often excuse away whatever new outfit I had on or skill I was being praised for. These two words go a long way: thank you.

Can you relate?

I was recently invited to take a hard look at the difference between taking and receiving. Huh? Isn’t the difference obvious? As I begun to dissect the two words, I uncovered some personal beliefs, some limiting thoughts and even a bit of personal permission that was needed. These two terms may mean vastly different things to you, but to someone like me, the difference is quite subtle. To me, receiving always feels like taking.

I feel a constant need to match my time or thoughtfulness to the gift being offered. Whether it be someone else’s time, a meal, a freebie, a discount or even just a nice gesture. I feel as though I cannot receive (or accept) it unless I’ve done something nice or meaningful in return to deserve it. Something deep down within me always feels like I need to earn it. Or as though I am not worthy of receiving such gifts.

When do you know if you are naturally paying back the gift just by being you?
A very good friend of mine told me not too long ago that I didn’t need to try so hard. Because sometimes just the gift of who I am and what comes naturally to me IS the gift in and of itself. That there is no extra payback needed in the situation. Huh. Just me. Just my presence. Just my words, thoughts or actions? That’s enough? Yes. Sometimes that’s enough. I had to get used to this.

Think about the reasons people want to be around you. What are your innate abilities? As I reflected on this question myself, I discovered that the feedback I hear most often is about my ability to listen and my thoughtful, thought provoking responses. What I have come to discover is that the reasons people are attracted to us provide plenty of motivation to inspire someone to open their heart and do something nice. To honor you. To make you feel happy. No strings attached and no formal return gesture expected.

So, then, how do you know when you are actually taking?
There are plenty of people out there who abuse the gift of receiving. When gifts are just that…gifts…our heart is in the right place and we can receive with huge gratitude and often, surprise. Pay attention to how you feel when you are given a gift. When you feel a sense of entitlement or knowing about a gift, then it might be time to do a gut check and see if you really deserve it. Have you done enough to pay it back? Have you earned it? Or did you manipulate the situation in some way to get what you wanted? If so, you are actually taking.

We all know I’m a pay it forward kind of gal. I love to do for others. But that can leave me exhausted and depleted. It’s important for people like me to remember to open up and learn to graciously accept as well. And in many cultures, not accepting a gift is perceived as an insult. Something to think about!

MOMENTUM CHALLENGE: Be YOU. Don’t hide. Don’t try to say the right thing. Don’t alter your actions for the audience you’re in. Just try being you. All month long. We’ll thank you later 😉