Become an Excellent Receiver

"Until we can receive with an open heart, we're never really giving with an open heart."
 - Brene Brown

We’ve all been taught that it’s better to give than to receive. The givers in our world are labeled the “good guys”. And we admire the good guys – those people who give selflessly, whether it’s their time, their advice or their money. We dedicate monuments to the givers and revere their selfless acts with awe. We even challenge ourselves to be better givers, in part so we can be better people.

Is it any wonder, then, that we often have trouble receiving gifts from others? Since giving is perceived as the better side of the deal, receiving must be bad, right?

Yet, whoever coined that famous phrase must have been very bad at math. For every giver there must be a receiver. In other words, every time someone gives something, someone else has to receive what they are giving. Otherwise there can be no gift at all.

But most of us are not good receivers.

  • Have you ever given someone a compliment and then listened as they explained why they didn’t deserve your words of praise?
  • Have you ever tried to pay the check at dinner, only to have the other person say “Oh, you don’t have to do that…” while they reached for their wallet.
  • Have you ever offered someone your coat when they were cold, only to have them refuse it with a polite, but firm “No, I’m okay.”

Have you ever found yourself doing any of these things?

The truth is, it’s uncomfortable to receive things. Much more uncomfortable, in some cases, than the act of giving.

We haven’t been taught to receive as openly as we give. Receiving is sometimes perceived as a weakness. After all, we don’t need someone to pay the check at dinner. We have our own money, right? We don’t want to feel like we’ve inconvenienced another person. Or we may not feel we deserve the gift the person is trying to give us, no matter how big or small it might be.

But, it’s important to learn how to accept the gifts that others give us with an open heart. When we receive gracefully, we honor the person and the gift.

Just think about how you feel when you give someone something they really appreciate. You love to see them smile. It makes you feel good. So why would we ever deny this pleasure to those who give to us?

Starting today, make a deal with yourself. The next time you receive a gift or a compliment, accept it graciously and just say thank you.

That’s all you need to do. No explanations. No justifications. No arguments. Just express your appreciation with a smile, even if you feel unworthy or uncomfortable.

After a while, receiving will become second-nature. You’ll begin expecting to receive. You’ll start believing in your own value. And when you feel good about you, you’ll choose to give with an open heart. You’ll finally understand what many successful people already know. Everyone needs help and praise. Everyone needs a gift once in a while and it’s everyone’s job to give AND receive.