‘One of the social idealisms that is commonly injected and parroted is that, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. […but] If you are blessed by giving to another person then that implies that they would be cursed by receiving’
Dr John Demartini – The Values Factor
It’s impossible for us all to be givers without someone at some point having to receive what we are giving. This realisation pulls into question the idea that it’s better to give than receive because you can never have one without the other in equal measure.
Giving is wonderful but receiving is not only necessary, it’s also a healthy and beautiful experience. Giving and receiving are also more complicated than they first appear.
Giving is not always good for you
Sweeping statements about the good of giving fail to address the complexities of the behaviour. Giving can be unhealthy when it is done from a place of obligation and subordination to others. This is often disguised as the inability to say ‘no’.
This type of giving frequently points to a lack of self-empowerment and self-esteem. I can testify to that. From my experience, feeling obliged to give and unable to say no depletes you of energy and happiness. It also fuels a corresponding belief that you are unworthy of receiving.
What about giving with the intent to receive in return? This may appear unsavoury, but is it? You give your services at work with the intent to receive a paycheque. There is nothing wrong with that. But, in more personal relationships, this approach can feel inauthentic. It may also leave you disappointed and even angry if you don’t receive anything in return. Giving in order to receive also stops people from giving just because they see no return for themselves. Such behaviour cuts them off from the benefits of the next type of giving.
Healthy giving from a place of love
When you truly want to give and expect nothing in return, it energises you. This behaviour adds to your sense of self-esteem and worthiness rather than depleting it. It creates and strengthens connections with the people to whom you give. And, although you are giving out of your own cup, this type of giving somehow fills your cup at the same time. This behaviour leaves you feeling deeply fulfilled and as if you gained something too. This is where we want to be.
What does it mean to receive?
As well as being necessary and unavoidable on the whole, receiving is a wonderful experience that’s key to your health and wellbeing. It’s just as important as being able to give.
Healthy receiving is not about expecting others to give to you because you think you are more important or more deserving than them. It’s also not about feeling obliged to receive things you don’t actually want, which can lead to frustration and resentments.
Healthy receiving occurs when you receive without guilt or neediness and without feeling obligated to give back. We can receive love, time, words, resources, knowledge and effort from others from a space of self-care and worthiness. Have you noticed how people who can’t receive help from others end up burning out and being miserable? It’s very necessary to let yourself receive.
Giving and receiving could be a matter of life and death!
Receiving as well as giving is literally a matter of survival. A flower would not exist if it was unwilling to receive nourishment from the soil. In turn, insects receive nectar from flowers and they give back the gift of pollination. We receive oxygen from the trees and we give them carbon dioxide.
Such symbiotic relationships are abundant in nature and are what keep it alive and thriving. As we are also nature, I’m sure this rule applies to us too. We must both give and receive to stay alive and healthy.
Next time you are in a situation to give – think about the intention behind your giving. Is it healthy? And don’t forget to open your hands and heart to gifts from others. You deserve it.
About the author: If you’d like to find out more about Pinky Jangra, click here.