I met a stranger recently, who was so generous with her time and advice.

She offered so many tips, suggestions and connections. And while she shared with me, I found myself thinking…

“What can I give her in return?”

“Gosh, I’m not sure I will be able to repay her for such help.”

“I hope she doesn’t expect anything in return.”

The gift of kindness was diminished by my worries about unconditional acceptance.

Why is it harder to receive than to give?

Maybe it’s linked to self-worth? Or feelings of selfishness? Perhaps it’s the risk of being exposed and vulnerable?

There are many reasons why it seems harder to receive than to give. We are conditioned to believe it’s better to give than to receive.

Giving and being of service is important and powerful. 

“In recent years, social scientists have conducted experiments demonstrating that the effect of a single act of kindness can in fact ripple through a social network, setting off chains of generosity that reach far beyond the original act. But whether it is enough to merely witness a generous act, rather than actually benefit from one, has been an open question.” (New York Times, 2014)

With all our giving, there have to be some receivers. This got me thinking about the importance of balance.

If we allow ourselves to be receivers, we are giving someone else the opportunity to feel good.

Isn’t that a gift in itself? So, perhaps receiving is equally as important as giving, despite the fact we may not be so skilled at the art of receiving when it comes our way.

As we head into the Christmas season, now is a great time to practice receiving.

It can be as simple as accepting compliments without feeling the urge to quickly repay them, or being wholly present and accepting when someone is giving you a gift of their own knowledge and time.

Let’s balance the giving with the receiving, after all it’s a two-way street.




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