5 Reasons Receiving Feels Hard (And How to Make it Easier)

why is receiving harder than givingI’ve recently had the honor of receiving help from someone. This person could be earning a lot of money helping someone else, but he chose to help me—for free.

Despite everything I know about giving and receiving, which are integrally related, and what I’ve learned during my years of personal growth work, I have found receiving this free help enormously difficult.

I constantly want to offer something in return—and do. I feel a need to understand why this person wants to help me with no compensation. And I feel somehow small and inadequate. And I avoid his overtures of kindness and help.

What’s up with that?

If you, like me, find it challenging to receive, you’ll have a hard time allowing in help as well as abundance, love, joy, success, and health—and anything else you desire.

So, I’ve been thinking about the ability to receive…a lot…in the last few weeks. And I thought I’d share my thoughts and takeaways with you.

5 Reasons We Struggle to Receive

The reasons I find it hard to receive are relatively universal, I believe. See what you think.

1. I don’t feel worthy.

When I think of receiving free help, I don’t feel as if I am worthy of this act of kindness. I think, “Why me? I don’t deserve this.”

Additionally, my internal chatter tells me that I shouldn’t need help. I’m not good enough, smart enough, skilled enough to do it on my own. And now…well…I need help. And I can’t afford to pay for that help so, someone has taken pity on me.

In fact, the opposite is likely true! Someone has offered to give me—or you—something because they see me and what I have to offer as having value. Maybe they like and believe in me. When I realize this, I can feel better about the gift (and myself) and open myself to receiving it. Suddenly, I am worthy.

Case in point: When I asked this person why he wanted to help me, he said, “I like your energy and message.” I felt SO much better after that.

2. I am afraid the giver will expect something from me in return.

All too often in this world, people give to get. They expect something in return—if not now, then later. And we have become programmed to believe that, if we allow ourselves to receive from someone, we will be expected to do something in return.

No one likes to feel indebted to someone else—including me. Thus, my mind immediately turns to thoughts about what this person might one day need or want from me. If he suddenly needs help, will I have to drop everything to come to his aide?

But that’s the wrong reaction, especially if what I’m receiving is useful and I genuinely have a desire to give back (which I do). That attitude stops me from accepting the gift given.

Instead, I should be willing to offer help, should he need it. After all, giving leads to receiving. Think about common adages, like “what goes around comes around” or “that’s karma” as well as spiritual teachings, like “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

In fact, the more you give the more you do, indeed, get. The more you receive, the more you can give.

Therefore, I should want to give…unconditionally. And that attitude, as well as assuming others are doing the same, helps me receive and to do so graciously.

You know what? I asked this man if he would like help in some way—my coaching in return for his coaching, for instance. He was unconcerned about receiving something and simply said, “I believe that if I give to you—or anyone, at some point and in some way, I’ll get that back.”


3. I’ll be seen as selfish.

There is a reason I repeatedly offer to give something to this person—or anyone who gives me something free (but not something like a birthday gift)—in return. I do so to ensure I won’t be seen as selfish. (That’s a hard one to admit…)

After all, we typically think of people who only receive as “takers,” right? You know the type… The selfish ones who take, take, take, and don’t give back as a way of showing appreciation.

My offer to give…something…anything…makes me feels better about myself and how others (in particular this person giving me help) will view me. I won’t be the taker or selfish one in their eyes.

Here’s the thing: Receiving is a two-way street. There has to be a giver and a receiver. In most cases, merely giving makes the giver feel good. That’s why they give. But without you, they don’t get that pleasure hit—especially if you don’t graciously receive what they provide.

When you realize that your receiving actually gives something to the giver—a good feeling, you can stop feeling the need to continually offer recompense. You, too, can feel good about the fact that you helped that person give and, in the process, you gave back simply by receiving.

4. I have to give up control.

Oh yes…for all us control freaks…receiving feels a bit like losing control. Speaking for myself, the fact that I might need to receive—to have help—already leaves me feeling out of control of my situation (and myself). But when someone gives to me unconditionally, I have to give up control. There’s no control in the act of receiving…just an opening and surrendering.

On the other side of the coin, giving places us in a position of control, while receiving does not. We can control how and when we give and for what reason. When we allow someone to give to us, though, we let them have that same control.

Yes, we can control our own response to the gift and giver. But we cannot control the act of giving, the gift, or the giver.

If you want to receive anything, give up control. First, stop trying to control when, how, or where you will receive what you want. You can’t even control the form of that gift. You simply have to be open to a gift arriving.

And then take control of your typical response, which is likely to disallow that gift into your life. Instead, decide to control for receiving. Decide to open, allow, receive. Give up all other types of control over the situation—even the results.

5. I will feel vulnerable.

Finally, receiving requires us to be more vulnerable. Receiving is an intimate act in any situation. It creates connection.

And it does, in some cases, put us in someone’s debt, such as when someone offers help. That feels super vulnerable.

I remember when I was involved in the original Loving Relationships Training, and we were told to have a “helpless day.” We had to ask a friend or family member to take care of us for 24 hours. During that time we couldn’t do anything for ourselves—except maybe use the bathroom.

Wow…that was hard. We had to consciously make ourselves dependent on someone else.

Think of how vulnerable a baby is. It can’t do anything for itself and relies on its parents or caregivers for everything. Without them, the baby will die.

That’s vulnerable.

A helpless day puts us in the same situation. When we open ourselves to receive from others, we feel vulnerable again. And that makes us afraid—afraid that we might die without that help.

The person helping me is focused on increasing my income and success as a coach. If I’m honest, part of me feels as if I will die—or my business will fail—without his help. That’s a really vulnerable place to find yourself. No wonder it feels so hard to receive assistance.

If you were willing to be vulnerable—to remember the teaching that “in your vulnerability lies your strength”—you would find yourself more able to receive…and so would I.

A Lesson in Gratitude

For me, allowing this person to help me has been a real lesson in how to receive. However, it’s also been a lesson in gratitude.

When I leave behind all my mishigas about receiving help, I find myself feeling profound gratitude. Really profound. And that opens me to receiving on a totally new level.

I now feel deeply humbled to be chosen as worthy of help and amazingly appreciative of the fact that someone wants to do that for me.

When I stay in a place of gratitude, I receive willingly, openly, and vulnerably. I feel connected on a deep level to the other person, and thankful for the gifts given—no matter the reason.

And I know that the process of receiving makes me more able to give in the same way—unconditionally. As the Kabbalists teach, giving unconditionally is how we open ourselves to receive anything we want. Our intention of sharing—giving—what we have, whether that is money, love, knowledge, or expertise, opens the gates of abundance and allows us to receive once again.

With that in mind, I have to ask myself: Why wouldn’t I want to support this person in his desire to give to me unconditionally? (Ask yourself the same questions.) In the process, I help him receive more of whatever he wants. That’s a gift in and of itself.

What stops you from receiving? Tell me in a comment below. And, if you found this post helpful, please, share it with your friends and family.

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Photo by  gmast3r 

1 thought on “5 Reasons Receiving Feels Hard (And How to Make it Easier)”

  1. Dale Karwowski

    I am semi retired and own and operate a small engine repair business. I have all different levels of customers, however many are struggling and many are elderly. When they bring their lawnmowers in for repair I try to help out by reducing my labor hours and rate to help them out. Most times they will try to pay me an extra $5 or $10 or even $20 dollars. I find this so hard to accept and usually tell them to put it in the donation basket at church or to help someone out. I almost always do not accept. I do go out of my way to take care of these people. Am I wrong or should I handle this differently? I do not want to offend anyone either because I know how sensitive some people can be. Help?

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