The First Step in Receiving: Be Willing to Ask

Woman on the beach watching the horizon
Woman on the beach watching the horizon

"Asking is the beginning of receiving. Make sure you don't go to the ocean with a teaspoon. At least take a bucket so the kids won't laugh at you." -- Jim Rohn

I don't think anyone enjoys the feeling of vulnerability. We don't like asking for help as we have been conditioned to see that as a sign of weakness. Being judged as "needy" seems to be the ultimate insult as we like to think of ourselves as able to stand on our own two feet, as being self-sufficient. We take up sayings like, "It's better to be a giver than a receiver."

Giving is an act of a generous heart and it also gives us a sense of control. Receiving can be really uncomfortable as it goes against the rules we have inside. We don't want to be seen as takers or as victims.

We think that being strong means not needing anything from any one. Being strong is another way we try to maintain a sense of control. Vulnerability can feel powerless, where we judge ourselves as weak, and believe that forces outside our control are completely messing with us. Nobody likes to feel like this.

Experiencing the loss of a partner through death or divorce leaves us feeling vulnerable, needy, and out of control. This is one of those times when our attitude towards receiving may need examining.

Grieving is a time when we need all kinds of help. Trying to maintain the illusion of control and not being willing to receive is a surefire way to perpetuate a sense of separation, isolation, and loneliness. "I'm all alone," we tell ourselves. "No one understands me. No one will be there to love me again."

My encouragement is to let go of these limiting beliefs. How? One thing I encourage you to do as way to deal with the sense of abandonment and loneliness you feel is to ask someone who cares about you for help. Push past the resistance and ask in a big way. Ask for what you need. Ask that your bucket be filled and for God's sake, put away the teaspoon. Then be willing to graciously accept the abundance of help when it shows up.

What makes this a Spiritual opportunity, or a Soul Lesson, is cultivating an attitude of gratitude for the blessings we are receiving in our lives (great and small). We can be grateful for life itself, even if that feels like the hardest thing in the world to do right now. This act of gratitude fosters acceptance, which leads to trust that the Universe is a supportive and loving place. It reaffirms our belief in God at a time when our faith may have been shaken. It may be a stretch, but even "faking it until you make it" by sharing your gratitude helps shift the energy from feeling like a "taker" to a being a grateful receiver. This opens your heart so that you experience the Love that rides on each gift of assistance that comes your way.

The messages we tell ourselves are very important, especially when we are grieving. Flooding your consciousness with positive thoughts and with loving, healing energy is a crucial part of grief work. One very powerful way to program your consciousness is by saying affirmations like this:

"I am willing to accept my vulnerability as a sign of strength and trust in the Universe."
"I am a grateful receiver and am opening to the blessings of Loving that are flowing toward me."
"I am giving and receiving from the well-spring of Loving that comes from the heart of God."

God wants us to know that we are not forgotten, that even in the midst of our pain, we are being held in Love. Countless angels are bringing messages of that Love through the generosity of other people. Gestures of inclusion, little acts of kindness, moments of connection, hugs, casseroles....these are all precious gifts to receive. Especially when we are hurting. Opening to accept these gifts with gratitude means accepting your vulnerability and making peace with it. This is a stepping stone to healing.

Your act of receiving gives others a chance to tap into their compassion and give of themselves in service. Both giver and receiver have an opportunity to connect in the place where we are all One. When we are grateful receivers, we open to the Love and let it flow in and out in a beautiful dance of giving and receiving. This is Loving in action.

If you are only willing to accept a teaspoon of God's grace, you are choosing to perpetuate suffering, choosing to go it alone. How about bringing a bucket to the ocean of God's love and mercy instead and opening your heart to receive?

This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn't make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let's talk about living with loss. If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at