Updated: Jun 13, 2019
Are you a generous giver and an excellent receiver?
Do you go through struggles alone? And then find out there is someone right down the road who is going through the same thing?
Historically, I do things on my own. My friends may hear about something I went through after the fact, but I’m going to put on my game face while the challenge is on. Somewhere in my mind I thought it must be a weakness to draw on other people in time of need, a secret, and even a type of shame. If this is my challenge, why would I ask for help? Everyone has their challenges. I would do myself good to suck it up and deal with it, because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
For some reason, I have no problem giving support to others. Over the years, and through lots of trials, I have learned to develop some really good boundaries. I have gravitated toward jobs with those who need support and I feel strong enough to support without taking on their stuff. As I studied boundaries, I found that they go both ways. For the most part, I am an excellent receiver. I usually know what to receive as mine and what not to.
I can listen.
I can stand strong when others are struggling around me.
I can allow their things to be theirs.
I can be around suffering without taking it on.
I can usually listen to frustrations without taking it personally.
When I need to focus on myself, I am really good at saying no.
But, I have not been a generous giver. I may sit and listen when someone is struggling with something I am struggling with too, at the exact same time, and not even think of sharing back. No way. And add to their stuff? Nope. Mine.
This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a workshop on public speaking. I am someone who prefers to fly under the radar, but I absolutely will bust it out if it is for my good or someone else’s. I go 100% with every activity in the seminar, no matter how far it puts me out of my comfort zone. I sat on the front row with a crowd of about 250 people behind me. Bring it.
But I had one that pushed me further than ever before, and I was able to really get a feel for how much generosity I have really developed over the years.
There is a scene from the movie, Rocky Balboa, where Rocky is talking to his son and I was to act it out. This assignment is hot on the heels of last week’s conversation, the most recent of a thousand discussions just like it through the years as I raised boy after boy. It’s one of those scenes where he lays everything out there and has to walk away knowing that his son may totally reject the love behind every word. It was a little raw.
As the others took their turns, I began to contemplate exit strategies:
Pull the fire alarm. Fake a seizure. Diarrhea, which says how my ranking system works as far as public embarrassment and how seriously I took this threat.
I began shouting with my mind to the presenter, “I CAN’T DO THIS!”. I tried to catch his eye every time he looked our way. I wanted an out of some sort. Or permission as a special exception. I wanted him to say, “You’re right. This wouldn’t teach you what you need to learn so just sit this one out”.
As each person spoke, my stuff got stirred up. Here came shame and frustration and embarrassment and rejection and self-judgement and it got clearer and clearer as I imagined my boys’ faces as I gave them this speech over the last 21 years or so, so many times, and they chose to walk away. My heart was pounding, I was feeling ill, I wasn't hearing right. It's almost my turn...
As the last person went, and the presenter hadn’t canceled the whole event like I mind-spoke him to, I had another idea.
What if I did it?
And I began taking stock of my resources.
I saw a room of about 250 people. I scanned for my friends. I found my power partner and she saw what was in my eyes. She nodded. The person next to her made a heart with his hands. I whispered to the woman sitting next to me and let her know that I needed some help processing something. She immediately said, “What do you need?” I recruited my team of 5 and let them know that there was a good chance I was about to embarrass myself publicly, but I would try my best.
I finally got the presenter’s attention and mouthed, “I can’t do this”. Not because I don't have the ability to stand and turn toward possible ridicule, but because you can't talk and cry at the same time in a socially acceptable way. At least I can't. He turned to the 250 people and showed me how to be a generous giver and excellent receiver.
He asked them to put their hands to their hearts, fill up love, and send it to the presenter. Me. I received/intercepted a whole room full of love. Then he asked them to engage their windshield wipers. I felt a little more free to give….because I trusted them to take care of themselves. They were covered. And I made it through the entire script. Ugly tears were shed. Every once in a while, running in place in a subconscious effort to escape. But I stayed and I learned how to give more generously.
And now I’m sharing with you. Here’s my stuff. Don’t carry it. Use it.
The world is filled with people who have weathered storms and survived and then thrived. The world is filled with people who can do it alone, but lose out on the opportunity to generously give, to be authentic, to have a greater capacity to receive because their space isn’t taken with silent struggles.
The world is filled with people who need support. Maybe it is permission that they haven’t given themselves to cry, to heal, to speak, to feel. Maybe they just need to know that there is hope. That they aren’t the only one. That they matter. That they are good. That they are lovable. That their best is enough. That they are worthy of love.
How can you do this?
First, be an excellent receiver. Understand your power and what is not in your power. You have the power to listen without solving, without accepting responsibility for their emotions. This is their journey. Don’t try to pack them up and carry them. You’re the support station, not the vehicle.
Be a generous giver. Allow others the opportunity to share their strength. Let them know what you need. Don’t expect them to read your mind or take responsibility for your feelings. That’s your job. But accept that there is strength in love. And that just doesn’t run out. It grows.
It grows in cycles. The more you give, the more you are able to receive. The more you are able to receive, the more you have to give.
For anyone struggling today, I'm sending you love. I'm putting my hand to my heart and I'm filling it up with the strength that I've gathered from going through the same kinds of things, and I'm sending it out to you.
You've got this.