As women, we are often encouraged to believe that “it is better to give than to receive” gifts both material and abstract. And yet, “until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart,” states professor, speaker and writer Brené Brown in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection.
Brown explores how receiving — a kind word, a heartfelt gesture, a thoughtful gift or simply someone’s time and attention — can challenge and overwhelm many of us. We feel compelled to give back immediately rather than relish what we’ve been given; clearly, many of us have work to do when it comes to becoming more comfortable with receiving.
We at The Humphreys Group have worked with clients and sought input from others on the subject of giving, and examined various ways to become better at receiving. We consider this work as important as any financial strategy — it’s a “holistic life investment” that can also contribute to our overall balance and security, now and over the long term.
In addition to Brown’s thoughts, we appreciate this helpful advice and the following thought-provoking observations about receiving from writer Karen Mead:
- Receiving takes practice. Most of us are taught lessons about giving from an early age, but we must also be open to learning the value of receiving gifts from others, with grace and without guilt.
- Receiving involves vulnerability. As Brown has also noted, vulnerability is often viewed as a weakness rather than a strength. But if we are to fully enjoy what it is to receive, we must strive to become comfortable with our vulnerability; doing so allows others to give us something of their time, talents or treasures — enriching our lives and experiences.
- Receiving can “quench our needs” for connection, validation and attention, just as much as the act of giving can (or sometimes more!). If we find ourselves struggling in our attempts to “give with gladness,” we should consider how receiving gifts with joy and gratitude contributes to spreading happiness into others’ lives and provides others with a purpose. In this way, being able to receive gracefully — free of judgement of ourselves or others — becomes its own gift.
“In the long run, we can’t stay emotionally healthy without accepting gifts, both concrete and intangible. Refusing to receive leaves us chronically empty, prone to addiction, obsession, codependency or an eternal psychological hunger that’s never quite satisfied. The healthy alternative is to stop merely closing down and learn to receive wisely,” states the life coach and author Martha Beck. We couldn’t agree more.
Contact The Humphreys Group to discuss how we can help develop a practice of balanced giving and receiving that’s right for you.