Gratitude – the key to receiving gracefully

They say that Christmas is about giving, but what about receiving?

I did a search on the internet and found a list of articles about why Christmas should only be about giving, and not about receiving.  That any giving you do must be unconditional, you must give with no expectation of receiving something in return.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree with unconditional giving.  But I also believe you need to be open to receiving too.

Open to receiving help.

Open to receiving compliments.

Open to receiving feedback.

Open to receiving without feeling the need to give back.

Maybe you are great at offering to help others, giving people compliments, (maybe) giving feedback when you believe it will help, or giving gifts unconditionally.  But if you aren’t able to receive those things yourself you are creating imbalance in your life.  The picture you are painting is incomplete.

Why can it be difficult to receive?

There are of course reasons you may find it difficult to receive:-

  1. Fear of intimacy – receiving can create a sense of connection, which you may not be comfortable with.
  2. A need for control – when you give, you’re also in control to a certain extent, you are the caring person giving whatever it is you choose to give.  Receiving needs you to connect to the vulnerable part of yourself, to allow yourself to accept the compliment, help etc.
  3. A worry of ‘strings attached’ – maybe you’ve learned that compliments only come when you’ve done something to please someone else, that whatever was given was more about what they wanted, than about being thoughtful about you.
  4. Believing that it is selfish to receive – you’ve always been told you must think of others first, you shouldn’t expect anything for yourself because it’s wrong.
  5. To avoid being ‘in debt’ – you don’t want to feel like you owe someone because they’ve given you something.


Self-worth can come into play, particularly when it comes to accepting help. Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?:

  1. I don’t want to bother anyone.
  2. I don’t want anyone to go out of their way to take care of me.
  3. I don’t want to be seen as a needy person who can’t take care of themselves.

Resilience Strategist Rita Schiano explains the importance of being able to give and receive with grace.

“Giving creates a relationship between the giver and receiver. Giving is a way people participate in our lives, a way people honor us. And when we say no, we deny them the opportunity to do so. Generosity, both in giving and receiving, opens the heart. We must learn to accept gratefully.”

How gratitude can help

When you are able to appreciate what you have, see that there are good things in the world and that there are blessings in your life which came from other people, you spontaneously experience feelings of goodness and warmth inside of you.

A gratitude practice reminds you of all the positive things which have come into your life, and encourages you to be open to receive more.

Not only that it helps you develop and strengthen positive relationships, deal with adversity, and puts you in the right mindset to be able to find solutions to your problems.

A guide to gratitude practices

Here are a few ideas of ways you can practice gratitude:

  • Morning coffee (or tea) gratitude – start your day off thinking about the things you’re grateful for as you sip your coffee or tea.  You can even start by being grateful for the warmth of the cup in your hand.
  • Keep a Gratitude Journal – write down 3-5 things you are grateful for each day.
  • Fill a Gratitude Jar – write down something you are grateful for each day and put it into your jar.  At the end of the year tip all the bits of paper out and read through all 365 reasons you’ve been grateful that year.
  • Identify 3 things you appreciate about yourself – this will help you open up to receiving compliments from others.
  • Make a point of expressing your gratitude to someone else each day – such as thanking the person who holds the door for you, or smiling at the cashier and wishing them a good day.
  • Write a gratitude letter to someone who had a positive impact in your life.  It doesn’t have to be long, but make sure you are specific about what they did and how it helped you.

Gratitude is about noticing the little things you already have that make your life better.  It helps you appreciate your life and the people you have around you.

This Christmas, possibly more than any other, give yourself permission to not only give, but also to receive, and to see, despite the many challenges this year has brought, all the blessings in your life right now.


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