Giving as a caregiver is obvious, right? But do you receive as a caregiver as well? Both giving and receiving as a caregiver are important. Both can help improve relationships and strengthen community. Giving and receiving can also help you find spiritual peace with the difficult circumstances you are living with.
As a caregiver, you are giving. After all, ‘give’ is part of the term, right? You’ve got the giving part down. But I have two questions for you:
Are you choosing to give?
And are you open to receiving?
Law of Receptivity
Bob Burg and John David Mann talk about giving and receiving in their best-selling book, The Go-Giver. (Although it’s a book about giving in business, the lessons apply beyond work.) The book lists 5 principles to live by, one of which is the Law of Receptivity – giving and receiving.
The Law of Receptivity states that, “the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.”
They go on to say that, “…every giving can happen only because it is also a receiving.” The opposite would also be true. Every receiving can happen only because it is also a giving.
The example in their book is the symbiotic relationship between plants and humans. As humans, we breathe oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. Plants do the opposite. They take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. “Their (the plants) giving is our receiving, and our giving is their receiving.”
Both giving and receiving are integral to the life cycle. I believe that both are also essential to relationships, community, a spiritual life, and living as well as possible.
Choosing to Give
You didn’t choose these circumstances. You didn’t choose to have your life turned upside down. To give things up. Or to be present while a loved one suffers. Life gave those circumstances to you. But now that you are here, are you choosing to embrace your role as caregiver? Do you choose to believe that:
- what you’re giving is important and noble (because it is)?
- you can do the hard work?
- you are best suited to help your loved one during these difficult times?
- this is your purpose, right now, in this stage of your life?
- you can give with a generous and patient heart?
Or, do you choose to believe the opposite?
You are a caregiver, not necessarily by choice. But you can choose how you want to show up each day to give.
Open to Receiving
By the same token, are you open to receiving?
Too often we think we will be a burden to others if we ask for help. But when someone offers help, they are offering to give of their time and abilities. Receiving, or saying yes to their giving, builds and strengthens relationships and community. Relationships and community can help sustain you during difficult times.
Are you to open to receiving the help that someone can or wants to give, even if it’s not what you wanted? You may want someone to stay with your loved one while you take a much-needed break. For one reason or another, that’s not the help that is being offered. Maybe that person drops off food instead or comes by to sit and talk with you for a while. Can you be open to receiving what they have to offer, even though it wasn’t exactly what you wanted or needed?
Are you open to how someone shows love or gratitude for your service, even if it’s not the way in which you wanted it? I’ll give you a personal example.
I am a working mother of four children. That makes me an Organizer, Planner, Worker, Mother, Wife, Chauffeur, Problem-Solver, and Chef. Therefore, I am overstimulated and overwhelmed often. I am also an introvert and recharge with quiet and solitude. But quiet and solitude doesn’t happen in my house, no matter how much I long for it.
My kids like to show gratitude and love by being right by my side. As in, it’s the middle of summer and they want to snuggle in a thermal blanket kind of right-by-my-side. It’s not necessarily the way I want love or gratitude expressed, but it’s how they want to give love to me. It’s how they know to give love.
So, now I can choose. Do I want to receive the love they want to offer? Or do I choose to say no because it’s not exactly what I wanted or even what I feel like I need? If I say no and choose not to receive, the cycle of giving and receiving in relationship will breakdown over time. Therefore, I choose to receive what they have to give (at least most of the time).
There are other ways to be open to receiving in difficult circumstances.
Personal suffering can be a call to a deeper understanding of universal suffering. You can receive a call to grow in empathy and compassion toward others who are experiencing something similar.
Suffering can also be an opportunity to receive an invitation to grow in deeper relationship with God. Or, whatever spiritual being you might believe in. As you give with a generous and patient heart, can you receive the presence of a higher-being to help you carry this heavy load?
This caregiving experience will be different for each of you. Circumstances, priorities and values will be different for each of you. But everyone can ask themselves, “Am I choosing to give? And am I open to receiving from family, friends, my community, or a higher being during these difficult times?”
In relationships and in life, we have the potential to give and receive. It’s our choice. We can choose to give with a generous heart, or not. We can be open to receive in our suffering, or not. The choice is yours. What choice will you make today?
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