The Delicate Balance of Giving and Receiving

 Every relationship has outflow and inflow. A give and take. Just as in nature, there is a constant circulation of energy coming in and going out. Throughout history, we have always seen the act of giving as strong, brave, and righteous and the act of receiving as timid and weak. But the outflow and inflow of relationships must be at a balance in order to live in harmony. Take breathing for example. We inhale and exhale equally to keep our bodies running comfortably. If we do one of those too much we can hyperventilate and cause our body to stop performing at its best. 

Why it matters

Because we often have too much outflow and not enough inflow. In other words, we run the risk of over-giving. Giving is easy for us because the act of giving makes us feel warm and fuzzy. If you never allow anyone to reciprocate it, especially after all the giving you’ve done, you cause those warm feelings to stop. Remember that it is hard to “fill another’s cup when your own is dry”. A dry cup means the chance to become depressed or burnt out. It simply feels as if no one cares. When we give something to others, whether its something tangible or not, we feel we should at the very least get respect and recognition for those efforts. When we don’t get any of those an imbalance happens. An imbalance can cause damage to relationships, and thus, stop them from fully developing. 

“A balance of giving and receiving is essential to keeping your energy, mood, and motivation at a consistently high level.

-Doreen Virtue

The Problem

Most of us feel more comfortable giving than receiving. Someone trying to give such things as help, compliments, or even money upsets us. But why? Because our ego constantly wants to prove to others that we are self-reliant and self-sufficient. Receiving feels like we are weak, vulnerable and in the power of someone else. We force ourselves to never need anyone else’s help and brush off those who try to give it to us without realizing the mutual benefits of accepting the offer. My advice? Switch up the perspective. Technically, being a receiver is also being a good giver. You’re giving someone the opportunity to experience a kind of joy and get that warm and fuzzy feeling.  

The Solution

Practice receiving! We often brush off the nice things people do for us. When someone compliments you on a job well done, I’ll bet your first instinct is to say something like”oh its nothing!” and move along. But really, If someone has taken the time out to say it, you should take a few seconds to receive it. Chances are you totally deserve the credit! It can be as easy as a smile and a thank you.


Ways To Practice Receiving

  • Be aware of the things you are already receiving! Sunshine, clean air, freshwater. Nature gives us so much to be thankful for. Next time you’re on a walk, notice the little things, and mentally say a thank you.
  • Reflect on the times that you witnessed someone receiving in a strong way. Maybe there was a time you gave something, and that person received what you gave with confidence and grace. Mentally store it, as a constant reminder to do the same.
  • Work on your self-confidence. Do whatever you need to do to feel your best. A happy and healthy person can begin to accept what others are willing to give free from emotional blockages.
  • Determine if you have some emotional blockages. These can prevent you from feeling confident in your abilities to communicate effectively. I suggest talking to a therapist about blockages, you will be glad you did!
  • Practice receiving the help of others. Do not be afraid to delegate or to use resources available. We are not superhuman and we cannot do EVERYTHING ourselves. So when someone offers their help (or even if they don’t) take time to consider if you need the help and suggest something they could do to get the job done. Most likely the person is more than happy to do what they can.
  • There is a saying “ask and you shall receive”. It is completely true. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask. People like to help, generally speaking, those they love. I know from personal experience that being honest about what your feeling (and what you need) gives others an understanding of your situation. Never be afraid to outright ask for what you need. You may be surprised at how quickly you receive it.
  • If you are typically a giver, look for ways that others can give to you. There are a million forms of giving, and people are usually looking for ways that they can help. Call up a friend for advice or let your kids help with dinner. The effort you show will surely come full circle.
  • I would highly suggest starting a gratitude journal and write down what you “receive” each day. Check out our gratitude challenge to get started! It could be a compliment, accepting help on a project at work or maybe you decide to take someone’s good advice. Check your give and take ratio at the end of the week!

As you do these things more frequently, you will learn to develop a healthy habit of receiving many wonderful things without that awkward feeling of shame. Remember that receiving is also giving. You’re giving the other person a chance to feel warm and fuzzy. Embrace those that wish to give.

“Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting”


Share this post with your friends and family and spread the awareness and importance of the give and receive circle. You never know, there could be dozens of givers out there who could really benefit from this knowledge.

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