Upon first hearing this, my discomfort immediately set in. Eeek, kindness in receiving? How awkward. I have the willies just thinking about that. We're supposed to give, not take.
The truth is we are often conditioned to believe, whether it be from a parent or teacher or just general elder, that receiving can be a sign of selfishness or greed or even arrogant entitlement. We are taught that giving is good, great, grand, wonderful (and it super duper is!) but never really trained to receive in big, bold, beautiful ways as well.
Michael told a sweet story of a time when receiving should have been an act of kindness from him, which I will attempt to summarize for you here. He explained that in his town lived a well known homeless woman. One afternoon Michael offered this woman a ride just a few blocks from where she stood in the rain to the local Walmart, where she needed to go. She accepted and when they arrived at their destination a few minutes later the woman attempted to give Michael $3 as a thank you for the ride. Of course his gut reaction was to politely decline her offer (which is completely natural) over and over, despite her insistence. He confessed that in retrospect he should have accepted her money; not because, by any stretch of the imagination, he needed or "deserved" the $3. But it was a gesture of pride, equality, kindness and gratitude from the woman and in turning her down, he prevented her from being a part of the energy exchange between them.
Multiple times during my Costa Rican excursion I was told I needed to get better at receiving. My first thought? Girl (boy), you cray cray...I receive just fine, thanks! Then my beautiful new friend Julie pulled me aside on the 3rd day of the retreat and said "So, I want to do something for you, and you can't say no." ...which of course instantly made me want to say no, without even knowing what this something was. "You are such a giving person and I think you need to be better at receiving, so I'm giving you one of my spa appointments, already paid for, and well, you just have accept it." My ego voice shouted NO!, cringed and wanted to run away...I'm apparently pretty bad at receiving compliments as well as tangible gifts. But instead I gulped, hugged her swiftly and said "Despite how uncomfortable this makes me, I accept your incredibly thoughtful and generous gift, thank you." Julie was so excited for me to enjoy my amazing massage that I realized simply by accepting her kindness I, in turn, extended kindness right back. From start to finish my body work was heavenly and I am still overwhelmed with gratitude for her gift.
Then, a few days later, I injured my foot while surfing and realized even more deeply that whoa, I am one stubborn little lady. I didn't want to accept help from anyone, not even as I limped along wincing in pain. But once I let 14 of some of the most beautiful and loving and divinely feminine ladies I've ever met step up to aid me in ordinary tasks that now were slightly more difficult (as if I ever had a choice--these mamas were fiercely insistent!), I felt supported and loved and cared for. The fact of the matter was that they wanted to help me and if the tables had been turned I deeply would have wanted to help them, too.
The bottom line?
As Michael said, both giving AND receiving energies must flow for the world to be a better place.
Let people give to you, share with you, praise you, appreciate you and help you.
Seriously, let people help you.
Saying thank you and accepting these gifts is part of the exchange of being human. It's part of what connects us and keeps us as one.