On Saturday morning, I was at a bootcamp class at my gym. Class was about to start, we were all getting our equipment ready and one of the girls got the instructor a body bar. He didn’t ask, she just knew he needed it and was
a crazy bitchtrying to be helpful. The teacher said, “Thanks! You’re my new favorite student!” and smiled. A second later, after she had returned to her spot, he said to her, “Actually, would you get me a mat too?” The girl happily obliged, and my teacher seemed to have no qualms about asking and taking it.
That really got me thinking about how hard it is for most women to receive. Think about it, can you even picture a manly voice saying, “Oh, you shouldn’t have!”? It’s so rare!
This is so sad, because it’s our true nature. Sorry to bring this between your legs, but think about it – biomechanically, we were built to receive. Somehow, in this fast-paced, masculine-energy-dominated world, we have flipped the script and become giving machines. Giving when it comes from a full, healthy place is the greatest high in the world. Giving when you’ve forgotten how to receive is a horrible, fried, resentful, low.
Please understand: I am not suggesting that you become a selfish bitch. If you are totally happy with the state of your energy and relationships, yay! You’re already good at regulating this yourself, congratulations! But if you are like I used to be and you are feeling bitter and wiped out and undeserving of anything better, it’s time to ask yourself if you’ve got adequate inflow for your outflow.
I Used to Suck Really Bad at Receiving
A few years ago, had I been that instructor, taking the body bar and mat would have immediately filled me with overwhelming guilt and an relentless urge to immediately give back.
I first realized my inability to receive joyfully when I took an honest look at my crappy romantic relationships. Before Jonny, my incredible husband-to-be, you would not believe the pathetic loser parade that was my love life. Drug addicts, womanizers, anger management issue dudes, I dated ‘em all and gave my little people-pleasing heart out to every last one. If you needed money, a ride to somewhere inconvenient, an all-night therapy session; I’d give it with a smile. If I needed…um, anything, I’d squelch it in silence.
After a brutal breakup with a guy who I’d later find out was prone to tweeting pictures of his genitals (I let this guy meet my family! My mom should never shake hands with a man whose dick has been on the internet! I’m surprised the world didn’t explode at that very moment), I realized I’d have to get my shit together to have the marriage and family I’d always dreamed of. I started reading books about relationships in an effort to heal myself.
The two that changed my life forever were Getting to I Do by Dr. Pat Allen and Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts by Regena Thomashauer. They taught me about masculine and feminine energy, and introduced the idea that receiving joyfully was a healthy expression of my femininity.
For the first time in my life I began to understand my value did not lie solely in what I could give to other people. It rocked my world. I learned that I deserved to receive, and that it was vitally necessary if I was ever going to have a happy relationship. Up until that point, I’d meet a guy, he’d be interested and pursue me a little bit, and right away I’d start giving back. You bought me flowers? I’ll buy you a computer!
A few months later, I met Jonny, the first guy I liked since I realized the importance of my own needs. I steeled myself to receive, despite the nagging voices in my head that said this would never work and that he’d lose interest if I wasn’t working my butt off to keep it.
After our fourth date, Jonny came to a race that I was running at 7:00am on a Saturday and held up encouraging signs for me. Then that night he cooked me an extravagant duck dinner. Let me tell you, I immediately wanted to purchase a building in his name. Instead, I just smiled and told him how much I appreciated everything. I’d read that if you’ve been receiving disabled in the past, you’re doing something right if you’re feeling a little guilty.
Wouldn’t you know, it totally worked! I gave back to him as our relationship progressed, but only when came from joy and love rather than guilt and obligation. I started practicing this with everyone in my life. My poor barren emotional tank slowly squeaked to life, a miracle after the way I’d forced it to keep working beyond empty for all those years.
Asking – the Best Way to Take Care of Yourself if All Your Loved Ones are Not Psychics
In the example I gave you with my boot camp instructor, you’ll notice that he not only accepted the body bar but asked for the mat.
It’s lovely when people spontaneously offer to give to you, and you deserve to take it and enjoy every last drop. To really fill your well, though, you need to learn how to graciously ask for what you need. Unless you live in some kind of mind reader colony.
If you’re terrified to be an asker, I definitely understand! But try thinking about it very logically for a minute, okay? The worst that the person you’re asking can do is say no. You’re not going to be a bitch about it, you are going to ask politely for what you need, and graciously accept the other person’s yes or no. You have no control over the other person’s response, but you win no matter what because you behaved like a self-assured, confident woman who loves herself and deserves to get her needs met.
I’ve been working on this for a few years. It’s still hard, but it gets easier every time, like building a muscle. I still get a little bit teary eyed when I ask for something and I’m turned down. It’s not because I’m so heartbroken about not getting what I’m asking for. It just feels so vulnerable to make my needs known, like I am wearing my guts on the outside of my body. But I never, ever regret that I asked. Vulnerability beats treating myself like I don’t matter any day.
Next Steps for the Challenged Receiver
Does reading this overwhelm you? Let’s talk about easy actions you can take today to get some happiness juice in that tank of yours.
- Take some time to observe your current levels of receptivity. How do you react, both internally and externally, when someone gives to you? Do you react differently if it’s a stranger versus a loved one?
- Find yourself a girlfriend who needs help with this too. You guys can beef up each other’s courage when it comes to asking and swat away each other’s guilt when it comes to receiving. Email me if you can’t find one, I am totally here for you. Unless that feels like elementary school gym class when you can’t find a partner and have to be partners with the teacher. I always hated that.
- Make a list of what you’d ask from the people in your life if you had absolutely no fear of it. Start with the least scary thing, and work your way up. Take your time and move forward when you feel ready. It’s not a race.
Does receiving come easy for you or does it make you feel like Mrs. Howell from Gilligan’s Island? Let’s talk all about it in the comments!