The Gift Of Receiving

How often have you heard the aphorism, “it’s better to give than to receive?”

Well, I’ve heard it a lot, and I must beg to differ. I think they are equally wonderful, but receiving has gotten too bad of a rap.

Many of us have become accustomed to over-giving. We over-give of our time, our brainpower, and our emotional energy. We do this all year long, and then heighten our over-giving for the holidays, where we buy more presents for others than our budgets really allow, we make food that we don’t really like in order to please others, and we endure lots of parties we don’t want to attend, etc. etc. etc. It’s as if we’re all suffering from Over-Giving Syndrome. Amazingly, we do this at the time of year when the nights are the longest, when our bodies are telling us to rest more, to dream more, to restore our energy.

(Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy)

Giving, when done out of a true desire to give, is indeed beautiful and wonderful. But you can’t get to that point of pleasurable giving until you’ve really received.

In other words, you can’t pour eggnog from an empty container of eggnog.

(Mmmm… eggnog….)

But I digress. In this season of giving, I want to talk a little about the art of receiving as a cure for Over-Giving Syndrome. How is it done? How do you replenish your energy? How do you refill the eggnog container?

(Mmmm… eggnog…)

I think receiving can be as simple as strategically employing a few simple words.

1) Say “No” More Often — “No” is such simple word, yet so hard to say when you’re unaccustomed to it. “No” is one of the best words to use when you feel your energy waning and know that you need to protect it. Practice saying no to small things first, just to get used to it. If you typically have trouble saying no, remember that no is a more loving word than it’s given credit for. When you say no to something you don’t want, you are being loving to yourself, your desires, and your needs. In addition, you’re being loving to the person who is requesting something of you, because they know where you stand and won’t suffer through your resentment for making you do something you don’t want to do.

2) Say “Yes” More Often — How often do you say “no” to things you want and say “yes” (or acquiesce) to things you don’t want? In order to receive joyously, you also have to learn to say yes to the things you want. Just like saying no to the things you don’t want, saying yes to things you do want can take some negotiation. Say yes to lunch invitations, phone calls from friends, curling up with your favorite new novel, and other things that make you happy. If you want to refill your proverbial cup of eggnog, you’ll have to start saying yes when someone cute at the deli accidentally drops it in your cart.

(Did someone say eggnog?)

3) Say “Thank You” (Without Caveats) More Often — Way back when, whenever someone complimented me on my outfit, I would immediately blurt out something like, “It was so on sale!” or, “Really? It’s so old!” or any number of horrendous things that deflected the compliment and made the complimenter sorry she ever said anything. (Okay, so I still do this 10% of the time. I admit it.) I had no idea that I could just say, “Thank you!” I also had no idea that simply saying thank you would have the desired effects of (a) allowing me to receive the compliment, (b) making me feel good, and (c) making the complimenter feel good about complimenting me. When someone gives you a gift or a compliment (which is also a gift), saying things like, “you shouldn’t have,” or, “oh, no, I look terrible” has the completely undesired effects of (a) deflecting the compliment so that it doesn’t sink in and get received, (b) makes you feel bad, and (c) makes the complimenter feel bad because they were just told that their gift was not appreciated or accepted and that they were wrong for giving it.

Who knew it was so easy to receive? A few strategic “yesses”, “noes,” and “thank yous” and you’ll be feeling replenished in no time. Try it and comment to let me know how it goes.

Wishing you a very happy holiday! Have some eggnog for me, will ya?

Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. Go to to get your free download – Golda’s Top Ten Tips For Divine Dining!

2 replies on “The Gift Of Receiving”

A good way to ease into #3 is to segue immediately into complimenting the other person back.

“I like your necklace.”

“Thanks!  I love your new hairstyle.”

I think lots of us over-qualify our thank-yous because we’re afraid of an awkward lapse in conversation after a compliment.  Just get the other person talking again.

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