Discover more from Tomorrow's Ancestors by Zelda Poem
Why you’re uncomfortable when they pick up the check
The symbolic weight of receiving
What’s your reaction pattern when you receive something?
Whether it’s a gift,
Whether it’s from your family, friends, partner, a total stranger.
Do you say thank you? Do you try to play it off with the “It’s too much” tactic? Do you try to refuse? Do you embrace a sense of gratitude? Do you feel guilty, uncomfortable or ashamed? Does it leave you indifferent?
Receiving is a vulnerable act.
And our reaction to it tells different stories…
One is about our interdependence with others. Another is a reflection of how we manage our intimate relationships. A third could even be about your relationship with yourself.
What are your stories? What are the interesting patterns you can learn about yourself, derived from the mundane moments of receiving something?
Maybe it’s a fable saying that when you let someone invite you to a restaurant, you owe them something.
Maybe there’s a poem saying that you don’t deserve to be celebrated.
Maybe there’s a legend narrating the loss of independence, or the need to be financially supported.
¿WHAT IS YOUR STORY?
When we recognize the story we’re part of – which we may have inherited from our parents, or our life experiences, or our societal conditioning – we get our superpower back: agency.
In theory, receiving should be pleasant. But for many of us, it’s a source of discomfort, nervousness or guilt. How do we transform that?
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of what gratitude (in the case of receiving) implies:
“I accept to be seen.”
“I recognize I am interdependent.”
“I understand that my accomplishments are not solely my own.”
“I embrace needing others.”
“I value the support and encouragement I receive from those around me.”
“I acknowledge the perspectives people have about me.”
But these aren’t necessarily comfortable!
When the self doesn’t want to recognize its various vulnerabilities, it finds ways to hide them under other emotions and narratives.
Guilt, for example, is the perfect strategy for *not* feeling gratitude. While it occupies you in justifying to yourself why you don’t deserve X, you prevent yourself from acknowledging all the truths cited above.
I might write other cool ideas in the future, subscribe so you don’t miss them:
¡RE-ORGANIZING THE STORY!
Oftentimes, we wish to change the events that happened to us and shaped us into what we are. But in general, transforming the story we tell ourselves about those events is enough to experience a profound shift of reality.
Once you’ve identified what’s at play with the discomfort you’re experiencing, you can re-write the story so it finally benefits you.
“I’m uncomfortable when my partner pays for me at the restaurant, [because I grew up in a patriarchal society that taught me that act makes me dependent on them and so I’ll owe something to them.]
Does that story seem to describe your current reality (partly or completely)?
Are you in fact financially dependent on your partner?
Has your partner ever made you feel like you owe them something after they invited you, or like you’re financially dependent on them?
If the answers are no… Then there’s no rational reason to hold onto such a story, right?
So let’s re-organize it.
“I’m comfortable that my partner pays for me at the restaurant today, [because it’s their way to show their love to me and I’m grateful for the opportunity to eat some great food!] → The very awesome story you’ve created for yourself
Imagine experiencing life this way, with literally any topic. It takes some self-awareness work, but it’s absolutely possible. You can decide the lens by which you’ll interpret reality. You are the master of your stories.
Now go out and let people take you out and compliment you, receive it all with pure heart and gratitude!
If you feel like what I wrote is important, you might want to spread it to one friend or many:
<3 I want to keep my content free. If you want to support my ideas, consider becoming my Patron: www.patreon.com/ZeldaPoem
This essay was born thanks to an awesome conversation with my friend & teacher, María Islas.