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Counterintuitive Views on Giving, Receiving & Gratitude
Unconventional ways to use this power triangle to raise your vibration. (Hint: Gratitude doesn't always raise vibration, and when giving can lower vibration.)
*For your listening pleasure there is also an audio version of this article read by the author. It may include a few sidebars ;)
Scarcity & Lack Are Prerequisites for Gratitude
Let’s look at gratitude. I went on a few dates once with a gentleman from a wealthy family. We were leaving a hotel I considered glorious, that he considered “meh.” He stared at me in the car heading out of the security gates, and just said, “You’re so grateful for everything. You’re like the most grateful person I’ve ever met. I wish I could feel as much gratitude for things like you do.”
I puzzled his comment. I would have thought he’d be the one with all the gratitude, considering how we’d both gone through life. Then I realized, he’d likely never been with anyone asked to double check having a friend over after school, because there might not be enough food. I could very well be the poorest kid he’d ever been around. Humble would be a euphemism for my upbringing by his standards. A gift I hadn’t realized I’d been given.
Experiences in my life I’d wished were different flipped around in my mind and became... was the word beneficial?? All the things I didn’t receive or didn’t experience, paved the way for me to experience gratitude later in life. Growing up with scarcity was my motivation to make something of myself. Had my life been more abundant I don’t know if I would have summoned the same drive.
The experience of scarcity or lack is a major prerequisite to gratitude. It can be a struggle to find gratitude without lack. Lack is what allows us to feel an explosion of gratitude when abundance is present. Without it we are the person who receives a mountain of Christmas gifts and can’t access a spark of joy past Boxing Day. Nothing can make us appreciate experiencing snow more… than never having snow.
If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more?” ~Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
I had one Barbie as a kid. I did chores and saved allowance money to buy it for myself- for four months. As a nine year old. Staring at her in the store as I saved my money, imagining the day I’d dress her myself, I was paving the way for gratitude. I was the proudest kid putting her in front of the cashier at Toys R Us to purchase with my wrinkled dollars.
I played with that Barbie every weekend. She had ice skates. (This was the age of Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding). I froze bowls of water on Friday night for her to skate on come morning. I didn’t need eight Barbies like some friends had, and I certainly didn’t leave her discarded on the floor of my room to be stepped on, or loose her shoes. I was way too grateful for her.
We all feel gratitude to varying degrees, often influenced by the lack we have experienced. How much anticipation we go through before something arrives. Not receiving a Barbie Dream House (or Corvette for that matter) was not the tragedy my younger self saw, but setting the stage for joy.
Lack and anticipation are necessary components we often try to skip over in our search for joy. We mistakenly think joy just comes from having the thing. Lack builds ability to feel gratitude. Anticipation builds ability to feel excitement. Short ourselves on these elements to skip straight to the buying of the Barbie, and we short ourselves on joy. This may be why joy is so elusive to many. We don’t want to experience (or think it’s unkind to have others to experience) essential components in joy’s recipe. Being without is a powerful, and under appreciated, catalyst for fulfillment.
High Frequency Looks Like Earth’s Geomagnetic Field
Have you ever looked at a photo of earth’s geomagnetic field? Opposite magnetic poles attract, moving electric currents between them creating a toroidal shape. A balanced flow in and out if you will. This is how giving and receiving can look in our bodies.
Ideally both energies flow through us in a symmetrical way. I’m betting the flow is amplified by the high vibration of gratitude. With flow comes a life of high vibrational frequency. We give and receive the same way we inhale and exhale. Blockages and tension in the physical body often create illness or pain. Blockages in the flow of giving and receiving are no different, we just experience the pain in our frequency, so it isn’t usually accounted for.
Not All Giving is Beneficial
The flow of giving and receiving is almost a simplistic way to describe the flow of what Ayurveda and yogis call prana, in to our lives. Giving and receiving does far more to raise your vibration than the goodwill that arrives when we hand someone a gift. Giving is the cracking of a door through which we can start to receive the things we want to bring in to our lives. The more we give, the more the door opens. (That said, the door opens with inspired giving. If we are giving with intention of receiving, out of obligation, with resentment, or motivated by recognition, the effect is diluted.)
“The most truly generous persons are those who give silently without hope of praise or reward.” ~Carol Ryrie Brink, Caddie Woodlawn’s Family
Everywhere we look in nature there is balance. A cold season balances a humid summer. Leaves falling balances flowers spiraling open. I find it likely there’s value in giving, and nature may want that balanced with supporting ourselves as we move through the world. Creating resources, balancing enough for our care, and giving to others is a nuanced art. The evolved soul is one who exemplifies balance.
We also want to be watchful of excessive giving due to lack of boundaries, or (as I’ve done) hoarding for ourselves out of fear, and justifying this as being responsible. There’s being calmly responsible, and there’s acting from fear of how people perceive us, or fear of not having enough. As those of you who’ve read my article on how to raise your vibration using timelines know, acting from fear rarely leads us anywhere rewarding.
Assuming there is balance, when we follow an inspiration to give, we nudge the door open further to receive what we’ve wished for. Giving creates an onramp of sorts. It’s like building a train track. Things we want to receive or experience, (some might say manifest) use this track to reach us. Without giving, we drastically reduce the ability for what we want to arrive. There is no track for the train. We make ourselves an island. Expansion in to a higher consciousness is often about finding the irony in life- like how if we want to receive, we want to start giving.
How Unaligned Giving Can Hurt Vibrational Frequency
There’s also something to aligned giving. Meaning, if we give a big tip to a server we thought was rude, that’s not aligned. We become part of incentivizing rudeness. There may still be a little bump to raise vibration for the giver, but I find myself doubtful about this. The higher vibration that comes from giving is massively amplified when it’s vibrationally aligned.
Giving extra to express genuine delight when a server improves our meal is one vibration. Leaving a big tip for poor service because we feel we should/are supposed to/that’s what good people do/feel guilty, is another. I’d even go so far as to say that giving when we don’t feel like it backfires and lowers vibration, because we’re not in alignment with ourselves. For peak vibratory amplification we want to align our giving with our internal experience as much as possible.
“It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ~Mother Theresa
Giving can have a dark side we forget to calculate. Was the advice we gave appreciated? Or was it unsolicited? Give someone too much help and we stunt their growth. Give a country funding for impractical infrastructure and we waste their time. There is nuance in giving. It’s not just about the offer, but an awareness of if it’s the right situation for the offer. Avoiding the temptation to think all giving is beneficial. I’m grateful my mom used to have me show her what I’d tried to solve my problem before she helped me as a kid. It made me capable.
Most of Us Deflect Instead of Receive
Receiving is equally important, but society usually focuses more on giving- leading to imbalance that lowers vibration. As an example, when I looked up “receiving quotes” and “giving quotes” on Goodreads there were 87 for receiving and 1000+ for giving. How do we truly give if many don’t even feel comfortable receiving?
How often are we able to receive without guilt, or feeling we need to instantly balance the scales? A genuine “Thank you, that was so kind of you to buy dinner” is receiving. “I’ll get your dinner next time!” (Even though both parties know this may not be true) is deflecting. Wholehearted receiving is an art that serves us well if we want to raise vibration.
When we receive, instead of bouncing to a future moment where we swear we’ll even things out, we are staying in the present. Enjoying our gift. Our enjoyment is part of the reward of giving. Showing delight, and how we are touched with a gift, is often more satisfying for the giver than a promise of “getting someone back.” High frequencies are found when we appreciate the present.
True receiving is a beautiful skill, and one that can sometimes take more mastery than we give credit for. What do I mean by true receiving? How often do we deflect compliments with something like, “This sweater is cute?? No! Oh gosh, it’s sooo old.”
The latter is an example of what happens when we are unable to receive. Even if we are able to receive with a murmur of appreciation, are we actually taking time to feel the compliment? Absorb the kind words offered to us? Realize they could be true even if we don’t see ourselves that way?
Receiving is noticing how a compliment makes our body feel. Can we take the words in further and amplify the feelings? This may sound excessive for a compliment, but I’m trying to illustrate just how deep true receiving can really go. Receiving at this level accelerates receipt of what’s coming up the train track laid by our giving. You could even say, receiving powers the engine of the train to chugging toward us.
We are putting ourselves in the receiving mode. If we just give, deflect, or don’t have gratitude when we do receive, it’s like breathing out without breathing in. Most all beings on this earth find it much more beneficial to breath in and out, versus choosing one of those and sticking to it.
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we're never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.” ~Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
Lessons from Kirby & The Danger in Being the Recipient
Being able to receive with gratitude carries benefits that extend beyond the obvious. Let’s keep looking at feelings. If we refuse to feel certain feelings are we in a receiving or blocking mode? Blocking. We have left receiving mode- and that’s the mode we want to be in to receive elements helping us get to where we want to go in life. It’s like do you want your shield up or down? Choosing to block inevitable parts of the human experience is simultaneously blocking what we wish for. It’s a circuit breaker that’s either on or off. We cannot turn it off for one room of the house without darkening others. Start taking all of life as it comes at us (uncomfortable feelings and all) and it gets a stalled train moving again. Things we want are on their way toward us. Receiving is turned on.
On the flip side, there is danger in constantly being the recipient. Some readers may remember a bright pink 90s video game character named Kirby. Popping Kirby’s game in a gray brick called a Nintendo Game Boy, I puffed Kirby around Dream Land. Kirby’s main skills were flying and inhaling bad guys. However, if Kirby inhaled too many evil minions, the ability to fly began to wane. Kirby sunk toward the ground, too heavy with everything taken in to fly. Kirby needs to exhale stars (i.e. give and raise vibration) to regain flying power.
This is what happens to our overall vibrational frequency when receiving is out of balance with giving. Our vibration starts to drift downward. We want to be mindful we aren’t overeating like Kirby and losing power. Too much of something often becomes its opposite. If we get too comfortable receiving without passing it on, we seriously lower our vibration. We disrupt the flow going through our life. Part of cultivating a higher consciousness is developing the ability to feel when we are going out of vibrational balance, and course correct.
Like Kirby, if we take in too much, without giving, we run the risk of losing our super powers. Giving and receiving carry their highest charge when the giver offers out of inspiration, and the receiver is surprised and delighted, somehow offered just the right thing at the right time.
Feeling Gratitude Isn’t Always Helpful
This is how gratitude starts to enter the equation. Gratitude is the maximizer. Basic articles about how to raise vibration will sight gratitude as one of the main emotions we can feel to raise vibration. If we come to expect giving, or don’t feel grateful for what we receive, we do ourselves a huge disservice. We are missing an opportunity to not just raise our vibration, but the giver’s vibration. The giver is buoyed by our gratitude, and seeing the positive impact their actions have in the world.
I used to be in a step parent role for a little girl. We were dressed as Christmas fairies, practicing how to say thank you ahead of the holidays. “What if I don’t like the gift?” she asked me. I advised there’s always something she’ll like, and she’s the detective who gets to figure that out and share it. The color, the time someone spent shopping for her, the wrapping.
Looking back on this moment, I would add she could take a moment to feel any disappointment arising in her body before moving on to gratitude. The point is to learn to find it, not fake it. I’ve definitely had times where I’m super frustrated and the last thing I feel is grateful. Sometimes we need to move through other emotions before we can find gratitude. Stuffing down genuine emotions to force fake gratitude is a poor substitute for the real thing. Genuine gratitude arises as a natural side effect of ushering lower vibration emotions through us. Our gift for this shepherding is a perspective that genuinely shows us what we have to be grateful for.
Much gratitude to you if you choose to subscribe. I really do pause and feel a moment of gratitude over every new subscription I receive.