By this point in January, we have just come to the end of one of our biggest shared cultural experiences, the gifting season. The landscape of these weeks was populated with benign and generous figures, Father Christmas, La Befana, the Magi (and those gift-givers who come with a side of mischief, like the Yule Lads or Belsnickel). Even better, it’s a time when we can all easily express our own mythic side: we are Santas to our children, magical benefactors, unseen as the angels, to those to whom we donate anonymously.

With the season behind us now, it’s worth checking in with yourself: are you feeling fulfilled and in equilibrium? Or are you exhausted, depleted, or thinking mostly how glad you are to see it behind you again?

Tis better to give than to receive… But is it??

We are taught this lesson from an early age, and then the lesson is upheld by misbeliefs and rationalizations around abundance, and then we are programmed even more through rewards and praise for the care-taking of others. Indeed, a life of service and of generosity is a good life to lead. But a one-way flow will eventually close off energy, which needs a complete circuit to fully express itself.


It is best to learn how to give and to joyfully receive.

In so doing we not only become conduits for the correct flow of that particular energy, but we also become full beneficiaries of it!

In my work I have come to identify a number of what I call saboteurs, those parts of our personalities that work against our higher selves and our souls’ purposes. The Attendant is one of these: you have probably met her several times, and may harbor her yourself. The Attendant not only gives, but overgives; she puts others before herself always, but in a way that shows she holds serious misconceptions about the obligations of giving. Her behaviors become her armor. In moving outside of the role of provider and into that of recipient, the Attendant becomes unsettled: by giving up her normal, if unbalanced, functions, she also gives up some of her power.

Worst of all is the way in which this impulse, this persona, not only robs us of the ability to enjoy gifts that come from others, but also obstructs our ability to see the gifts that the Universe–the abundant, generous Universe–saw fit to give to us upon our births. For a person who is saddled with a strong Attendant saboteur, the constant elevation of others over, and at the expense of, her own needs gradually erodes her own sense of self, and of self-worth.

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An Attendant already has difficulty understanding boundaries. Taken to an extreme, the boundaries between the whole self and everything else so thoroughly disintegrate that the self is in danger of vanishing altogether.

. . . . . .

How to correct for this? One way to begin is to identify where in your body your saboteur resides. You can pull it out of your energy body, release it to the light, and call on your own Higher Self or a spirit guide to help you in this.

Another way is to learn to say thank you, graciously and honestly (remembering that the best way to say thank you for a gift the Universe has given you, is to use it). Remember, too, that givingness in the spiritual and emotional worlds is the same as giving in the material realm: as much as we enjoy gifting other people, so they enjoy being able to gift us.

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By opening yourself to the back-and-forth of giving and receiving, you open yourself to full participation in the world, its pleasures, its balance.

For more information on the saboteurs, as well as other topics of interest, please see my recent interview with Virginia Parsons at:

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