I sometimes joke with my clients when we talk about receiving. I tell them my middle name is “self-sufficient, independent, and I’ll take care of myself thank you very much because I don’t trust you to take care of me.” Kinda long, but accurate – or it used to be.

It feels good to give – to take friends to lunch, to donate to a cause we care about, to help someone in need. Yet, how good are you at receiving? How often do you say “No, that’s OK” or “I’ll take care of it” when someone offers help or a gift?

Years ago, a friend “busted me” – he reminded me that others enjoying giving, not just receiving. Oh! I always thought others wanted to receive and that I was being nice or helpful if I refused the help or the gifts. Nope! If we don’t accept the gifts others are offering, we are depriving them of the good-giving feelings.

Looking deeper, I realized and admitted that when I give, I’m in control! When I receive I’m not in control. Most of my life I’ve felt good about being strong, independent, self-sufficient, generous – and in control. But I was not good at receiving. A few years ago I had another “aha!” – that being strong is “the booby prize!” Being strong means there’s something I need to be strong about. What if life is easy and I’m happily supported and in the flow?

I was recently working with a client who was stressed, exhausted, and overwhelmed. Her energy looked, well, a bit like a zombie. It should look full and colorful, but it looked grayish, and like parts were missing. During our session, we called in spiritual help, I worked to help her connect deeply with the earth to fill up, but her body and energy were reluctant to receive. Why?

She had a history of working in somewhat abusive environments, so she unconsciously protected herself by holding her energy close to her body and blocking outside energies from affecting her. The problem was that she was blocking helpful healing energies as well the ones that felt threatening. She did not feel safe to receive.

The paradox is, the fuller we are energetically, the safer we are. The more grounded we are, the more we accept and absorb supportive energies, the more unwanted energy bounces off of us or flows right out.

Similarly, a friend of mine who generally enjoys my newsletters told me that when she read my last newsletter about receiving, she could feel herself contract . It triggered some old feelings.

When we have a history of feeling unsafe – as kids, as employees, in relationships, we often unconsciously try to protect ourselves by getting energetically small and closing off. It’s like we close all the doors and windows and curl up under the bed. The paradox is that the more protected and energetically small we are, the more vulnerable we are!

To feel safe, we think we need to be in control and defended. And yet, being closed and defended keeps us from what we really want – love, connection, financial support, happiness.

Are you wanting more financial support, more friends, more fun, more peace? Try receiving the love and gifts offered to you and let yourself feel grateful and safe in the process.

My new middle name (on a good day) is “thank you so much for this gift!” – as I breathe in and receive.