The Art of Receiving

by P. Braithwaite

When I was a kid, I’d cry when people sang happy birthday to me. Every year my immediate family and one or two of my childhood friends would gather around my parent’s kitchen table (the same one they have today) and sing happy birthday. The trick candles would be flickering, the Carvel cake would be melting, and me — the birthday girl– I’d be crying my little eyes out.

To this day I can’t articulate why: it was something about everyone looking at me that made it unbearable. I felt embarrassed and overwhelmed. Something about the praise made me want to run and hide.

Maybe, even then, I had an intrinsic sense of unworthiness.

Don’t feel too bad for me: the compromise was that they could sing to me, but I’d stand in another room where I could hear them, but couldn’t see them. The wall between us made it a little easier to deal with.

I’ve never been good at receiving.

In most interactions I feel I’m really good at giving. I show up and act as the problem-solver and the motivator; however, I get very uncomfortable when it’s time for me to receive. I bristle at compliments and deflect kind words with self-deprecation and sarcasm. I’m not in love with criticism, but at least I can deal with that. Criticism is somehow easier to swallow than praise.

I’m not good at standing in the vibration of other people’s love. It feels like an obligation. I find myself thinking that if they see this wonderful thing in me, it’s only a matter of time before I somehow eff the whole thing up. Praise automatically feels like obligation/pressure.

At first I thought this was okay. I figured that my deflections were just keeping my ego in check — I don’t want to become one of those people who suck up all the attention in the room. If I started accepting praise, I might become addicted! I might need it to be happy. Yep, best to avoid it all together.

As I’ve gotten older (and done some inner work) I realize I was kind of working against myself. Not owning the goodness keeps me feeling small. It keeps me hiding, covering myself. It keeps me from living my loudest, brightest and best life.

It can be really hard when what we think is humility/modesty/positivity is actually our egos working against us. Most ego trappings are like blind spots — we don’t seem em until we accidently crash….

So, for me, blogging is a revolutionary act. Teaching is a practice in radical expansion. Being seen, sharing myself with others and allowing others to receive me…allowing others to appreciate the experience of knowing me is something that might be the work of my life.

Everyone wants to be loved, but some of us have to learn how to receive it.

What are you working on learning today? Let me know…