How to give…and receive

Mastering the skill of giving and the art of receiving is a must for creating healthy, lasting and meaningful relationships. Giving freely and receiving wholeheartedly allow us to express our humanity and form deep connections with others. Knowing how to give and how to receive, and gracefully executing that knowledge, are essential to leading a rewarding life.

How to give

True giving is a conscious choice, not an obligation.  If you feel uneasy giving in a certain way to a certain person, then don’t. Find a way to respectfully and gently excuse yourself. Or find a way to transform what feels like a heavy burden into a deliberate decision to give.

Ask yourself if you’re giving the gift to manipulate a situation, force reciprocity, or create a tit-for-tat exchange. If you are, does this benefit you in the long run?  When you give out of sheer kindness, instead of to keep score, the long-term rewards are immeasurable.

Although reciprocity is a natural part of human relationships, expecting something in return and feeling resentful when you don’t get it is not true giving. Realize too that the person might be giving back to you, but not exactly in the manner or within the time frame that you’d like. Just because you gave last doesn’t mean you can’t be the first to give again.

Genuine giving is free from a sense of superiority, self-righteousness and sacrifice. If you’ve ever used phrases like, “After all I’ve done for you, this is the thanks I get,” or “I give so much and get nothing in return,” stop giving. Just stop.

If you give, you don’t control whether the receiver likes it or keeps it. It’s none of your business what they do with it or how well they take care of it. A sincere” thank you” is certainly appreciated when you give. But let go of your attachments to how your gift is received.

How to receive

There’s an old saying that it’s better to give than to receive. But the art of receiving is equally important as the skill of giving. It requires gratitude and appreciation — without the sense of entitlement, the burden of the reciprocity principle, and the uneasiness that might come from taking something from someone.

If you receive a gift that’s not really right for you, you don’t have to let the giver know. You can still appreciate the positive thought behind it. You can always donate it to charity or give it to a friend who would like or use it. The ecosystem will thank you.

Accept help from those you respect and from those who expect nothing in return. Otherwise, if you don’t want to feel indebted to a particular person, avoid asking them for any favors or taking any favors from them, no matter how desperate you might be.

When you accept a gift or a helping hand from someone, be sure to reciprocate. This doesn’t mean you give in to requests that aren’t right for you. But do what you can to return the kindness. You can also pay it forward to those who are more downtrodden than the original giver.

When you know how to receive wholeheartedly, you’ll be able to detect the difference between real gifts and subtle bribes. You can earnestly accept true gifts, regardless of their monetary value, practical use, or aesthetic elements. And you can politely say no to gifts that stem from ulterior motives — or accept them and give them away, without opening yourself up to manipulation.

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Giving freely, without expecting anything in return, isn’t easy. But it’s the kind that provides the most karmic gains. When your giving is tied up with manipulative strings, it will leave you disappointed when the person does not respond in the way you’d like.

Receiving wholeheartedly, without any sense of inferiority, guilt or obligation, is difficult, especially in our quid pro quo world. Nevertheless, it’s the kind that nourishes and enriches us the most. When you can’t receive without immediately thinking, “how will I pay this person back?”, you lose out on the benefits of true receptivity.


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Photo by: Aphrodite