Many of us grew up believing that it’s more noble to give than to receive. This edict safeguards us from becoming self-centered monsters—scanning our environment to see what we can extract to fill ourselves. Recognizing others’ needs, honoring their feelings, and being responsive to the less fortunate safeguards us from the unbridled narcissism that runs wild today.
Yet there are hidden downsides to prioritizing giving over receiving. I’m referring to interpersonal relating, not social policy, which could use a hearty dose of the golden rule. Is it difficult for you to receive love, caring, and compliments? Do you silently squirm inside when someone offers a kind word or a present—or do you allow yourself to deeply receive the gift of kindness, caring, and connection?