Feb 16, 2022–Why is it so hard to receive a gift? Many of us are unwilling and unable to accept anything freely offered. There is a stoicism in some, a feeling of low self-worth in others, or the impression that a gift equals charity.

None of these are true.

I myself plead guilty. I am one of those who grew up disliking the fuss of celebrating my birthday, for example. To me, it is a hollow fete, and it felt dishonest to receive attention for something which I did nothing to deserve other than surviving another year.

Yet as I have accumulated many birthdays, my wisdom has grown. I now realize surviving another year is a gift denied to many and a milestone that deserves recognition.

The acceptance of a gift is really about honoring the giver. It is the acknowledgment that another individual has taken the time, effort, and expense to bestow their attention–whether in the form of a cake, a card, a smile, or a gift–upon you, simply to acknowledge that you exist and that you matter to them. That is a great honor.

Sadly, ironically, appropriately, some of us have so harangued those close to us for so long to ignore our birthdays and graduations, that they have heeded our wishes. Now days that should be special ring hollow, not only for us, but for those who had no other sin than to try to recognize your accomplishment.

More sadly, the unwillingness to accept a gift can have grave consequences–it can keep us from growing and becoming. Here are two specific examples where a healing gift was withheld because the recipient rejected it:

Dr. Jim Fay, founder of Parenting with Love & Logic (a comprehensive guide to raising independent and successful children), told me of the time he was standing in a checkout line while watching a horrible display of parenting. A mother was belittling her toddler who was melting down crying for candy.

Fay had literally written the book on successful parenting that countless families have adopted to turn around relationships with their children.

He knew he had the ability and desire to solve the conflict right there in front of him.

He said, “I just wanted to tap that mom on the shoulder and give her a technique that would solve the situation and probably change the lives of herself and her child.”

But he didn’t. He knew from experience that the woman was not ready to accept his gift. Not only would she not accept it; she would resent him for trying to offer it.

The founder of Reiki had a similar epiphany. He discovered and taught a method of healing that channels the universe’s energy into spiritual and physical healing. Whether or not you are a believer, he had a revelation while trying to share his knowledge.

Daily he encountered troubled souls and broken spirits that would benefit from his healing gift. He even tried early in his journey to do just that, ministering to lost souls. It seemed to work at first. But when he returned on the following days, he found that, unlike his paying clients, the gifted patients had not been healed.

The lesson was so profound it became one of one of his six basic rules of Reiki: No free Reiki.

“You cannot give free Reiki. The circuit is only complete when you give and receive. Generally, things given for free lose value and importance. So respect Reiki and always ask for energy exchange. The most important issue is to value yourself.”

That “energy exchange” is what we are giving back when we accept a gift. The energy can be money, but it can also be time, attention, or just grateful acceptance directed towards the giver.

I know this is kind of “new age-y,” but it makes a useful model for helping understand the great circle of acceptance.

This past year I was in a position where I came near to losing my life. At that point, you are never more open to accepting the gifts sent your way. One of my last comments to my caregivers was “I am in your hands. Take whatever steps you need to take. I will cooperate. I will accept your gifts.”

It was not out of fear or pride I said those words. It was the expression of my acceptance of whatever outcome stood before me. Nothing like facing death to alter your stance on accepting gifts.

Let others fuss over you. You don’t need to always be the giver. Sometimes, you just need to accept the gift.