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  • Dora Nudelman

Feeling Guilty for Receiving

Do you ever feel guilty for receiving, thinking perhaps that you don't deserve it (even though that's not really true) or that you haven't done enough to merit it? If so, you are likely someone who is very giving and generous yourself, because those who question their worthiness to receive are often the ones that need to worry about that the least. Trust me, selfish people are not walking around questioning how selfish they are. A lot of times those who are considerate of others and generous to a fault are also the ones who feel the most uncomfortable in the receiving role. But it's not that they do not want what others are giving; it's just that they are so used to being the giver that receiving starts to feel like an embarrassment.

Often times those who feel guilty to receive have issues with their concept of self-worth in one way or another. Maybe they feel like they need to do more to earn their right to receive what they want. Maybe they feel gratified in the martyr role or think that it's their duty to please others. Maybe they don't want to inconvenience anyone (which is really just their perception and not real). And maybe they think receiving equals neediness or some sort of inadequacy. Regardless, there must be a balance between giving and receiving if true fulfillment is to be achieved.

Sometimes you are going to be more of the giver, sometimes you are going to be more of the receiver, and sometimes it will basically even out. The key, though, is to not keep score but to do what feels right in your heart. But doing what feels right doesn't mean what feels right to your ego (like acting out of low self-esteem or, contrarily, an entitled attitude). Rather, doing what feels truly right means following your inner bliss. If you feel good giving, then give, but detach yourself from any expectations. If you don't feel like giving, trust that instinct too (as long as you understand your motives). And if you want to receive, do so graciously and with pleasure.

No one should be a martyr because it doesn't really serve anyone well to be one. You don't serve yourself because you are miserable. And you don't serve others (in the long run) because you are likely encouraging their entitlement. Self-respect is where it's at because when you respect yourself you have healthy boundaries. And when you have healthy boundaries you are able to make mindful choices, both in the giving and receiving equation.

Also remember, when people choose to give you something, it makes them feel good too. Receiving a gift is not only for your benefit. You are also allowing others to be kind and generous with you, which makes them feel good. By accepting a gift graciously you are pleasing those who are giving you that gift in the first place. I know when I've given a gift in the past to someone who didn't feel worthy of it, their discomfort made me feel uncomfortable too, and kind of regretful of giving the gift in the first place. We need to consider how our actions affect other people and realize that receiving isn't only about pleasing ourselves. On the flip side, however, as givers we also need to be mindful of how our gifts will make others feel. Sometimes giving too much is not so great either as it can encourage entitlement or even resentment from those on the receiving end. Now, I know this all sounds a bit complex but, in reality, being mindful of our choices ultimately helps each of us find balance in what we choose to do.

Now, there are plenty of people out there who have no trouble not only receiving but also taking from others, but this article is not for those people. This article is for those people who are really good givers but really bad receivers. For a long time I felt embarrassed to receive, not because I wasn't worthy of it or because I actually didn't deserve it. Rather, I felt weird because I was so used to being the giver (and often the over-giver). And even though sometimes I would resent my giving (like when it was taken for granted), it still somehow felt strange to receive from others. But that was my problem. Not only did I not fully realize my own worth, I also didn't realize how rejecting others' gifts made them feel.

I realized that receiving did not make me needy. I realized that receiving did not make me obligated. And I realized that receiving did not make me selfish. Receiving was simply my way of loving myself, accepting myself, respecting myself, and believing in my self-worth. It was also a way I could help others become good givers, for givers could not give if no one was willing to receive. Furthermore, it helped me balance out my own giving/receiving energy so that I was finally free from guilt and resentment and open to receiving what I truly wanted.

Since all of those realizations I have become so much more balanced in my giving and receiving behavior. Because I make mindful choices without any attachment to the outcome I know that my giving is genuine and so is my receiving. I know that I deserve to receive what I want. I know that I can be a giver and a receiver at the same time without falling short on being a good person. I know that receiving does not make me entitled or selfish or even needy; it just makes me a willing participant in the glorious exchange of energy in which we all partake on a daily basis. I also realized that if I ask for what I want it is counter-intuitive to then reject it or feel guilty for receiving it. And because of that I know that I can give from my heart but I can also receive with appreciation, for when we are open to both giving and receiving we are honoring one of the main reasons we are here in the first place.

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