What do you think – is it better to give or receive?
We present this topic to children early to help them understand the virtues of generosity and kindness without really considering the delicate balance between these two actions. Sometimes, we go so far as to suggest to kids that it’s selfish to say you’d rather receive. I’ve only arrived at this mindset recently, but I think we do our kids a disservice by suggesting this. In fact, I think it can sometimes be exactly the opposite of selfish.
I hope this podcast, Episode #36 – The Art of Receiving, sheds a little light on the importance of both.
Particularly for girls and women, who are taught to nurture and not be selfish, receiving can be a loaded word. It has become almost a stereotype that women can be terrible at receiving compliments – on our appearance, our cooking, our parenting and our businesses.
And when we offhandedly reject a compliment (thinking we’re being humble), or an offer of help (even when we could really use it) we offend the person offering and make it less likely they’ll want to offer it again.
The interesting thing is how this behaviour extends to receiving money in our businesses. When we don’t believe our work is worthy, when we say we love our work so much we’d do it for free, when we offer discounts to potential clients (before they even object to our price!) because we don’t want them to think we’re greedy, we effectively shun money from our businesses.
I believe receiving is one of the most important skills an entrepreneur can have and I tell you why in this episode.
This is an important episode. Don’t let the short length fool you!
It’s brought to you by my new, upcoming group online program, Banish Your Money blocks which launches the week of Sept 23 with a free money mindset masterclass. There will be three dates for the live masterclasses and you’ll learn so much just by attending those. And if you’re not seeing the financial success you’ve worked so hard for in your business, even though you KNOW you have a great product or service, and you’ve set everything else up brilliantly, it could simply be your money mindset needs some love and attention. You might not be allowing money to flow easily into your business…or worse, you could be full on blocking it and not even realize it. Of course I hope to see you in the course so we can really get you past any financial stumbling blocks you have in your business, but you won’t want to miss the free webinar, regardless. Keep listening to the podcast for more details, or get on my community newsletter list at beambitiousforher.com/subscribe and you won’t miss a detail when those Masterclass dates and times are announced.
OK…with that, I want to move on to today’s topic. Before I really get into it, I want you to pause for a moment and consider your answer to this question: “is it better to give than to receive?” You might even want to pause the podcast for a moment and write down your answer so you can consider it again after you’ve finished listening. This is one of those lessons we learn early in life – that it’s honorable, kind and generous to give. And some of us are even taught it’s selfish to receive. This lesson is so pervasive, especially for girls, that when we’re offered a compliment or help, our negative self-talk and ugliest saboteur voices perk up and start a big old in our brains. As young girls, we’re taught to be the generous one. We’re not taught to be with compliments. To sit with the generosity of what was offered to us and appreciate the other person. Instead our brains go immediately to find all the evidence why the person paying the compliment or offering the help is wrong to do so.
Knowing this is such a huge part of the socialization of young girls is really important as it’s also one of the most important concepts we have to learn to be more comfortable with — to start allowing success into our lives and businesses. If you know me personally, you know I’m not terribly woo-woo, but I do believe it’s possible for us to allow or disallow success, abundance, good things into our lives by empowering our mindsets. And that’s because I know the power of our thoughts over almost everything else – how we feel, how we act and the kind of results we end up with.
When we think disempowering thoughts, it’s impossible to feel empowered. When we believe we’re in a place of lack and scarcity, it’s impossible to consider abundance. When our thoughts are steeped in feeling undeserving, we’re not capable of allowing help or goodness into our lives.
Many of us confuse receiving with taking – I know I certainly have in my life. And the first thing we have to acknowledge is that these are very different things. One comes from a place of abundance and the other from scarcity or lack. When we work from a place of scarcity, we think when someone offers help, money, compliments – even payment for a value exchange or job we did for that person – we equate these with taking those things unfairly because in those moments, we think we’re not necessarily worthy or deserving. We start believing that if we take something, there will be less for someone else and that makes us uncomfortable. As women, we’re socialized to BE the nurturer – the giver – not the taker. And so receiving when we actually feel like we’re taking makes us feel really uncomfortable. That’s not to say nurturing is a bad thing, but when it’s all we’re comfortable doing, it can lead to feelings of resentment and disempowerment both for ourselves and the people we intend to nurture.
When my dad had cancer, before he died several years ago, I experienced the incredible kindness of friends who wanted to help my family while I spent long hours at the hospital with my mom and dad. Friends offered to make meals, deliver soup and snacks to my husband and kids and I remember feeling overwhelmed and awful because I wasn’t able to reciprocate. In those moment, I struggled with tremendous feelings of gratitude but also feeling less than my usual strong self for needing the help in the first place, if I’m honest. I was supposed to be the one who could help other people – I wasn’t someone who need help. Except I did. And that experience taught me the empowering gift of accepting that help. Not only did it make the person helping me feel good – like they were able to do something in a helpless situation – but it created bonds of friendship that still have so much meaning for me today, 9 years later. I sat with the feelings of undeserving and thought to myself – what would I want to do if this was someone else? I would want to bring THEM soup and comfort and care for them just as they were doing for me and my family. Of course. We get so wrapped up in our own thoughts that we start to assign the intention of our own thoughts onto others and in doing so, we are actually insulting them.
Think about this in terms of compliments. It feels good to give someone else a compliment right? We believe we’re acknowledging their taste, their incredible work, their brilliance or their effort when we do it. We believe we’re being kind when we present someone with positive acknowledgement for their work. It doesn’t cost us a lot to compliment someone else, but for a lot of us, it takes a lot of effort to accept one. And when we look at it that way, we lose all sight of the kindness aspect when it comes to receiving.
If someone pays you a compliment, tells you your hair looks great today, or they love your dress, or gushes over how impressed they are with the business you’ve built, what is your immediate reaction? If it’s something like “This old thing? I got it for $10 at TJ MAxx”. Or…yeah my business is good but anyone could do it. I’m not really that special. Or “it’s not really going as well as you think. Appearances are deceiving.”
What you’re really saying is that their opinion doesn’t count – or worse, it doesn’t matter to you. That you don’t appreciate the gift of their compliment. We’re not doing it to harm, we’re doing it from a place of harm – of undeserving – but that’s also a selfish place, if we’re honest with ourselves. Who are we to decide for another person whether or not we deserve the favor of their compliment? It’s none of our business what they think. But when we behave like this over and over again, it doesn’t invite more abundance. It completely shuts it out. It tells the other person “I’m not open for appreciation, compliments, or business today. Thanks but no thanks!” And it’s not being kind to not accept someone else’s kind gesture! WE think we’re being self deprecating or humble when what we’re really being is unkind!
Worse, the person might take your lack of acceptance as telling them they’re wrong. They’re lying. Or that you think they’re disingenuous. Now that I’ve flipped that scenario around, can you see how not receiving can actually be viewed as harming the giver?
Receiving brings up our vulnerabilities. When we do it from a selfish place, we question our self worth and our value because we’ve learned to tie those assessments to what we do rather than to who and what we are. If we look at this like we’re worthy and valuable just because we are, and that receiving is about the other person, not about me at all, some of that pressure falls away. Our value as a human exists because WE exist. We don’t have to do anything special to BE valuable. We do have to offer value to receive something OF value though, and this is where it becomes easy to mix these things up.
In episode #34, my guest Danika Zoe talks about how she learned her self worth isn’t tied to her net worth and this is important learning for all of us. We are worthy because we are living beings, just as everyone else should be.
But when we create businesses, we create financial worth/value by adding new things or services of value to the world for others to take advantage of. And because we created that value, we’re tempted to bundle our selves up in the value equation when we really shouldn’t. Who we are and what we create are very different things. This is why I often counsel creative entrepreneurs, or coaches or consultants who typically have trouble pricing their services because “It’s really hard to when you’re selling yourself’ that you aren’t selling yourself at all. So you can just go ahead and take yourself right out of the equation! You’re selling the value of what you offer, do or create for the OTHER person. The value it’s creating in their life is what they’re paying you for. Not for your time, not for your effort, not for your sparkling personality. They buy how you make them feel about their own life – their own business – their own day – or how much time you save them – or whatever the problem is that they solved because they worked with you. So take yourself right out of it and notice how much easier it is to create a value exchange based on leaving your self worth where it belongs – with you.
When you can grasp that difference, the concept of receiving becomes a whole lot simpler. It’s easier to make it about the other person and recognize and accept what they’re offering (and why they’re offering it) with grace and true humility. It becomes easier to simply say “Thank you” and allow the compliment, the help or yes, even the payment. It becomes a no brainer to want to balance the tremendous value you’re putting out into the world through your business, and the money you’re receiving back for having offered it. And you give the other person the honor and pleasure of knowing they helped you!
If you’re self-employed, there’s probably no better place to start to work on your mindset than this. You can think all day long about financial plans, and taking advantage of opportunities that come your way, but if you’re not open to allowing them into your business, to receiving them with the intention with which they were given, those opportunities will start to dry up. And you’ll be left believing your business failure had something to do with your product, or your service or timing…. But those are all just excuses – the real problem was you weren’t open to making money or allowing success in the first place. Fear of success can be just as big a problem for solopreneurs as fear of failure!
When you don’t allow yourself to receive, what you’re really doing is not allowing others to give. So how will you ever be successful? What’s the message you’re sending to your potential clients? You don’t need them, you don’t appreciate how good it might make them feel to recognize their gratitude for your services, and you’ve effectively disempowered them by suggesting they aren’t capable of paying you for the value you provided. Thats a biggie, right??
One of the ways I approach this in my work is to have clients work with a very simple spreadsheet that keeps track of all the money coming into your business on a daily basis for at least a month.
By doing this, you become mindful not only of the numbers, but their impact on you and your business when they are received – or not. The days when you have to write in a ZERO are probably more telling than the days that feel more abundant. Those are the days when you have to practice TRUE abundance. It’s easy when the numbers are there.
Another way is to write yourself a pretend cheque – maybe it’s dated for some time in the future – but it represents the money you would like to be making in your business. Place it somewhere so you’ll see it often. Practice seeing your name and that dollar amount next to it, and then focus your work on the value you provide to your customers or clients. We just saw a great example of this on the weekend after Bianca Andreescu won the US Open women’s single’s tennis championship. She said she wrote herself a cheque for a winning amount when she was 15 years old and kept updating the number as she worked towards her goals. What a powerful visualization! How else could a 19 year old accept a cheque in front of thousands (millions on TV!) of people for almost 4 million dollars and not just pass out from the shock of it? She was prepared to receive it. She connected the work she put in over the years to the value it was creating for herself and her team and her sponsors so that when it happened for real, it was simply a matter of saying “Thank You.”
If you’d like to try this out for yourself, you can download the exercise and worksheet at beamnbitiousforher.com/moneytracker. The worksheet includes the spreadsheet and instructions for how to work with it, several ways to make a fun game of this project, and how to think about what’s happening on a day to day basis when you’re actually writing in numbers or NOT.
When you have a positive number to write in, make a gratitude practice around it. Sit with that number and what it means and say “thank you” aloud until you really feel the gratitude for receiving it. If you accept the money while thinking, “Wow, I really fooled them. I can’t believe someone is actually paying me for this work.” You will start to believe yourself and not be open to allowing more. So pay attention to where your mind goes when abundance comes knocking…what do you say to yourself? How do you try to beat yourself up, or worse the person giving it, for the offer?