Giving is less vulnerable than receiving.
I have been thinking a lot about receiving. The pandemic has been a time where I had to learn to really receive. When the pandemic first hit, my partner was laid off from his job and I was asked to take a pretty substantial pay cut. I remember feeling so anxious about the unknown. We had some savings, so I knew for at least three months we'd have runway which I am so grateful for and know is a privilege. Our financial coach at the time still recommended that we cut out as much as possible from our budget.
The biggest expense in our budget next to rent were my mental health bills. I can't tell you how much shame I had about that. I was going to therapy twice a week, which cost about $1,000 a month. I had pretty terrible thoughts about myself. “If I wasn't broken, we wouldn't be in the negative,” I'd think to myself every time I looked at our spreadsheet of bills.
That week I told my therapist my current financial situation and said that I couldn't afford to see her anymore. She responded immediately saying, “I will not allow that to even be an option.” She said that she would waive my sessions until we had a financial foundation again and that I don't need to worry about paying her until I'm back on my feet. Some of you reading this email know me relatively well, but for those who don't, receiving her generosity, reassurance, and comfort turned me into a complete sob fest.
I was so grateful, but I kept asking myself, “What did I do to deserve this?”
I share this because universally, we are taught to give even if it's detrimental to our financial wellbeing. We LOVE giving. It makes us feel good! Generous. I'd even stretch to say, powerful.
Think about how giving is portrayed culturally in the media. Usually the giver is someone who has the means to give, right? The receiver is powerless, someone who does not have the means. Someone who does not have power.
From my experience, that isn't true. I have worked with so many people, most of whom are QTBIPOC and/or from immigrant families, that give the most. Even when they don't have the means to.
There are many reasons for this: colonization, religion, systemic issues rooted from white supremacy where family members need financial support, unmet basic needs in their communities, the list goes on.
It is tough to set financial boundaries when giving is a means to survival. I do want to honor that because it is so complex. However, when we give when we do not have the means to, the cycle continues.
When I point this out to clients and suggest to have this next season be focused on receiving, they share how uncomfortable they are at the idea of receiving and prioritizing their financial wellbeing. I ask, “Why?” Each time, the answer is the same:
If we were to receive anything at all, it would have to be because we “earned” it or did something to “deserve” it.
I think back to my session with my therapist when I am met with this resistance from a client, because I have that same resistance within myself. I eventually asked my therapist what I asked myself that day, “What did I do to deserve this?”
She responded, “You didn't have to do anything to be worthy of receiving care.”
To surrender to receiving just because we are worthy exactly as we are is one of the most powerful, loving, and generous things we can do for ourselves.
To give ourselves that opportunity is a form of giving a lot of us don't think about or notice.
I invite you to ask yourself, “What can I do to give more to myself this season?”
Because in my eyes, giving is receiving. And receiving is giving.
We are all worthy of that.