Why You Need to Balance Your Giving Instinct with Your Ability to Receive

feminine essence

This is the first blog in a four-part series that I’m writing about feminine essence. What it means. Why it matters. How to return to it. How to transition out of it. Make sure not to miss the rest by signing up for our blog here! 

We just exited the season of giving, right? You may be excited about what 2023 holds, but you’re also exhausted from giving so much. You gave to your family and friends, your guests and your work by buying and giving gifts, hosting dinners and parties (maybe multiple), talking to people who are—just by their very existence—exhausting and pushing deadlines up so that everything was signed, sealed and delivered for 2023. 

You gave a lot. 

But how much did you receive

Sure, you accepted gifts, a lot of kisses on the cheek, several glasses (or bottles) of wine and passed desserts (that you likely made), but how much did you receive?

If you:

  • Refused help in the kitchen
  • Told someone who offered to bring food, not to
  • Organized all holiday events and photos without help 

You’re better at giving than receiving. 

Basically, if someone asked, “can I help you?” or “what can I do for you?” and your response was some version of, “I got this,” you need help receiving. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 


Why are Women Great at Giving and Poor at Receiving?

Women have been conditioned to think they can “have it all.” That means wearing the mom hat, the wife hat, the CEO hat, the housekeeper hat, the peacekeeper hat, the cook hat and many more and doing it all by themselves. 

When you’ve been conditioned to think you can do it all, why ask for help? Taking that a step further, when help is offered, why say “sure, yes, I’d love it!”

In addition to thinking we can have it all, we’ve also been conditioned to be selfless. The idea of selflessness centers around the concept of losing one’s self, of doing for others at the cost of taking care of self. 

In contrast to many Eastern cultures, Western cultures were not, as whole, developed on the idea of selflessness or community or the greater good being the number one priority. Our societies were formed on ideas of advancing ourselves and our families. Now, when women born in Western societies where selflessness is not valued, are told that selflessness trumps all over qualities, a psychic split develops. On one hand, women see themselves as “good” when they are selfless and “bad” when they take care of or put themselves first. 

Suddenly, taking care of yourself and receiving from others is bad.

This is how we got to our collective struggle to receive. Why does it matter and what do we do about it? 

What Happens When You Learn to Receive?

“When you are not willing to fully receive, you are training the universe not to give to you. It’s simple: If you’re not willing to receive your share, it will go to someone else who is.” — T. Harv Eker

When you struggle to receive, it’s hard to get—or ask for—what you want. The end result: 

Being self reliant = good and asking for help = bad, means that you’ll never get what you want.

How does that feel?

When you are not ready to receive, it signals to the world that you:

  • Do not love/accept yourself yet
  • Do not know what you want
  • Do not have the confidence to ask what you want
  • Are not living your full truth

Also, from the most elemental standpoint, what does it feel like when you try to give someone something, and they can’t receive it? I know that you’ve offered to give someone a gift or help them relieve stress—watch the kids for an hour, bring them dinner—and you’ve received a no. While the person saying no isn’t tending to reject you, how does it feel? 

Not great. This is because blocking reception is blocking energy. When someone wants to give you something, there’s energy that goes into that exchange. Your decision not to accept it, blocks that energy. 

So even if you’re not ready to wrap your mind around what receiving can do on a bigger picture scale, consider that not receiving is a form of rejection for those who want to give you something. In addition, if you can’t receive, how can you give? 

Apologies for using holiday analogies, but we just left them so bare with me. If Santa (wink, wink) couldn’t receive the love of children, how could he give all of his gifts? If whatever you consider a greater energy—God, source, light—couldn’t receive love, how could it possibly come back to us?

Finally, one of the greatest gifts in receiving is that it opens you up to gratitude. When I found myself exiting my marriage to an Italian while in Italy, my husband’s friends said that I could move in with them. They knew I was far from home and in need of support and I let them help me. 

Magical things happen when you ask for help. One of them is gratitude for all of the love that truly surrounds you when you’re willing to pay attention. 

You cannot give with a full cup if your cup is empty. And when you are your true self, you attract exactly what the universe has in store for you. 

Visualizations to open receiving: 

Visualize the following and see if the idea of reception opens to you in a new way:

  1. Picture a beautiful river. It flows and it babbles in a way that purifies and minimizes the complications of life. Sometimes the water hits sticks and rocks. And yet if flows. Someone builds a dam on the river: There will be no reception of water downstream. Suddenly, all movement is strained. Everything is affected. The powerful river. The organisms that thrived within the movement of the river. The entire ecosystem.  Imagine the flowing river – it hits obstacles but keeps going.  Open yourself up to giving and receiving so that you start to flow through life like the river.

Tips for getting better at receiving:

  1. Learn how to ask for help. Next time you’re cooking, instead of doing everything yourself, ask for help
  2. Let other people be the hero. People like being the hero. Let your husband bring in the groceries. Let a stranger open the door for you
  3. After you give to someone—a gift, your time, your heart—think about how that makes you feel. Remember that feeling the next time someone wants to give to you and you want to say no thanks. 
  4. Think of the last time you let someone help you when you really needed help. Now think about the gratitude you still feel for that person. 

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