I used to own a home care agency, which specialized in post-operative clientele. Many of the conversations I had with clients were centered on getting their needs met. Some of our clients found it difficult to state their needs, ask for help, and accept support—even paying customers.
Our conversations involved a series of questions that uncovered ways in which clients support their own friends and family through life’s challenges. Eventually, I would get them to see that now it was their turn to be on the receiving end of acts of kindness and ask for help.
A huge part of why I love being a nurse and caregiver is–you guessed it–giving. While that may sound all altruistic and sweet, there comes a time when the giver must receive. So, when I needed a hysterectomy, it was time to take my own advice.I needed to build a support network around me.
Taking a Dose of my Own Medicine
One pill of advice, which I’d frequently share with my clients, is to think of giving and receiving as a circle of energy. When one refuses to give, she can’t receive. The circle is incomplete. Most of my clients could swallow that pill rather easily.
The pill that’s not so easy to swallow is that an inability to receive is actually a form of selfishness. If you’ve ever given your time, money, or other resources in support of another, you know how good that feels. Conversely, when you refuse to accept the gift of giving in return, you break the circle of energy, denying the giver the opportunity to experience the joy of giving. That’s selfish.
Initially, I refused the help of my family and friends to get through surgery. Then, I was reminded of how selfish I was being in denying them the opportunity to support me.
So, here are the three steps that helped me to accept help, in order to get all of my needs met around the surgery:
Step 1: Clarify Your Intentions
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of being in the presence of Oprah, where she shared what she knows to be certain about the power of intention.
In a nutshell, intention drives behavior and determines outcome. We all get confused at times about when to give and when to receive, but the answer lies in the intention.
Step 2: Define Giving
You need not be in a profession in which giving is the standard expectation or work in the business of giving to understand how good it feels to give, or the perils of what could potentially happen when you give to the point of either self or resource depletion. Construct your own definition of giving, while at the same time replenishing and giving back to yourself. As a professional giver in my role as a nurse, I’ve had to find the right balance between giving and receiving. Today, I am a better person for having this balance.
Step 3: Learn to Receive
Most people are brought up to believe that it is better to give than it is to receive. I enjoy being a giver and believe that giving is the true nature of most humans. On this day, as I finish this article, I am two days post-op from the hysterectomy. Because I was courageous enough to ask for help, I have it. I am being well cared for by an army of friends and neighbors. My family isn’t close by, but they’ve been checking in frequently. Today, I am surrounded by love, which feels amazing to receive.
Elisha Lowe is a registered nurse, business strategist, writer, entrepreneur and inspirational speaker with two decades of experience in health care. She works with top health care organizations to grow novel products that support better patient outcomes in hospitals while engaging in entrepreneurial pursuits. You can follow her on Twitter @ElishaLoweRN or learn more at www.elishalowe.com