How to Receive Gratefully Instead of Rejecting Kindness


“Giving is virtuous, but so is accepting gifts gratefully.” ~Doe Zantamata

I’ve learned that how well you receive determines how happy you are.

When I was committed to loving myself more, I started to be more aware of how I treated myself. What opened up for me was that I did not know how to receive.

That was one of the things I had to learn in order to really care for myself.

Receiving Capabilities Jammed

There were times when I would squirm and be all awkward when I was given extra attention.

There would be times when I'd feel indebted when I received a big gift or if someone did me a huge favor.

I'd think, “You didn’t have to” or “This is too much” or “I feel bad that you got me this.”

Then, there were times when I'd feel like I was imposing when a person offered to do something for me, even though they were the ones who offered.

I remember when I was younger, maybe around fifteen. I went to my friend’s house to play cards. Around dinnertime, my friend’s mom invited me over for dinner. I politely turned her down, telling her I’d be going home soon anyway.

She insisted, and I insisted on refusing to accept the invitation. I appreciated her offer, but I didn’t want to impose, so I felt it was more polite to decline.

Later that night, my friend said her mom thought it was strange of me to keep turning her down. I was shocked and hurt. I didn’t accept the invitation because I didn’t want to hassle her in having to prepare for an additional dinner plate. I had no intention of offending her.

That memory stayed with me. It is only until recently that I truly understood what happened.

I denied her the chance to give. I also robbed both of us the chance to connect. I was so focused on not wanting to impose that I forgot to appreciate and just be grateful for her offer.

What Happens When Our Receiving Capacity Is Jammed

1. We cannot be emotionally healthy if we cannot accept blessings.

When we keep refusing to receive, it will leave us empty and even resentful.

2. It can be harmful to relationships.

This happens because we will not be able to recognize the complete kindness the other person has to offer.

I had a best friend before who was extremely good to me. But because my receiving capability was out of order, I couldn’t recognize all of her efforts.

She would build me up, point out my strengths. Her intention was to help me gain more confidence in myself. But because my own receiving capability was jammed, I couldn’t recognize what she was doing. And the insecure part of me even thought she just pitied me.

3. We rob the givers’ chance to experience the joy of giving.

All of us have an innate desire to make people happy, especially the people we love. By refusing to accept others’ offer, we deny them the chance to do something good for us.

4. We may become resentful.

When we keep giving and we don’t receive, we become depleted and we run the risk of being resentful towards others.

It isn’t fair to the other person especially if they wanted to give, but you refused to accept it.

Why Receiving Is Difficult (and How to Make It Easier)

1. Check what kind of judgment you have when you give.

When you give, do you expect something in return? Do you give only to the needy?

There was this test I read before. You place money on the ground, in a public place, like a park or a mall. And you hide. Then you observe your mind as you wait for someone to find the bill. You may find yourself hoping that a poor person gets it, or a kid. You may find yourself getting mad should a rich man or a drug addict pick it up.

Those are the judgments that you have when giving. And those are the very same judgments you project onto your giver when you are the recipient.

I did the test, and what went through my head was the poor should get it. The “deserving” should get the money. Or the one who “needs” it should get the money.

So when people give to me, I have a hard time accepting since I don’t “need” it or that it should go to a person who needs it more.

There will be times where I refuse it because subconsciously I didn’t want to be perceived as needy or weak.

When you let go of your judgments while giving to other people, you’ll release yourself from projecting that judgment onto the giver and you find yourself receiving more gracefully.

2. You constantly feel like you’re imposing.

You automatically think you’re a burden or others would be hassled when they do something for you.

It’s not true, though. More often than not, people want to make you happy.

3. You feel indebted all the time.

You feel like you owe the person something when you accept something from them. You feel obligated to repay them.

Being grateful and giving back is much healthier.

4. You assume they were just being nice.

You constantly doubt if they meant it because you have a story running in your head that they were just being nice.

But what I learned was, more often than that, people are really sincere. And no one is really obligated to do anything unless they really wanted to.

5. You think they have ulterior motives.

You think when a person does something extra nice to you; it’s probably because they want something in return.

6. You feel like you’re not deserving.

It isn’t humility. It’s actually denial.

The goal is to let go of any kind of judgment when you give so you free yourself from any projected judgments that are keeping you from receiving.

What really helped me was to focus on the intention and love of the giver that motivated that gift, offer, or that sincere compliment. Believing them, accepting it, and saying thank you. Being grateful for what you have received makes the giver happy because it says you appreciate the time and effort that person has given you.

We should always be focused on giving but we should also learn to accept blessings gratefully.

Once the door to receiving is open, imagine how many gifts are waiting for us.

Photo by David Robert Bilwas

About Janice L. Pascual

Striving to live a meaningful life. Combining two loves: cartoons and spirituality to create Mind Snapshots. Web Comics for the soul.

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  • claire

    this is awesome! all the points you’ve mentioned are spot on! thank you sooooo much 🙂 I believe i have learnt something new today and will definitely strive to learn to accept blessings.. 😀

  • Robert Inskeep

    This is very much what I needed to hear right now. Thank you for the article and tips – I’m excited to put them to work whilst opening myself to the gifts of others.

  • Janice L. Pascual

    Hi Claire! I’m happy you learned something new 🙂 it’s funny how we reject blessings sometimes huh? I remind myself how it’s really not serving anyone and to just be grateful 🙂 Good luck, keep learning to accept blessings, so many things will open up for you when you do 😀 Thanks for the comment Claire 🙂

  • Janice L. Pascual

    Hi Robert! For people like us who has a hard time accepting, it’ll feel weird at first hehe but once you start to be more aware, a lot of things will open up for you 🙂 I’m so excited for you! Pls let me know your realizations, learnings and how it goes? 🙂 thanks for the comment!

  • Sarah

    Hi Janice! Nice article here … How wonderful to share your thoughts about the importance of receiving. I have been working on this very subject in my life. Great talk and tips! I clicked on the link to your site … so creative and innovative! REALLY fabulous! Thank you …

  • lv2terp

    BEAUTIFUL!! It is always so helpful to look at things from the other side/perspective, wonderfully written! 🙂

  • Janice L. Pascual

    Hi Sarah! Thank you for the kind comments, you just put a big smile on my face right now :p

    It’s great to hear you’re working on receiving, how’s it coming along so far? Good progress I hope?:)

    Thank you so much for visiting my site, I’m so happy you liked it, means a lot! Thanks for your encouragement 🙂 Hope you visit again, I’m posting a new cartoon this weekend 🙂

  • Janice L. Pascual

    Hi Iv2terp! I agree with you!
    Thank you so much, really appreciate the kind words 🙂

  • vivek

    Article is really nice. It changed my perception. But i have one doubt.should I accept everytime when anything offered by some one??

  • Janice L. Pascual

    Thanks Vivek! For me, if it’s good for you and if it’ll make you happy, then yes. BUT we should be grateful for them AND GIVE to them also when we get the chance.
    What do you think?

  • S. Mary Doran

    On the other hand, there are sometimes ulterior motives. A friend just sent me a $500 gift. I know he is interested in my romantically/sexually, and I am not interested, and I have set boundaries. This is not always about someone not being able to receive (although that is what this man is trying to guilt me into). He has been known by others to have many confusing strings in his friendships and relationships and I do not wish to be another person in that kind of bind. I wish you had a column on NOT accepting things in a gracious Buddhist manner….

  • S. Mary Doran

    What if something “is good for me and will make me happy” but I also know the person giving the gift has strong feelings of a nature that I don’t reciprocate?

  • k9gardner

    This was very helpful to me.

    In my job as office manager of a commercial real estate firm (i.e. chief cook and bottle washer), I am sometimes obligated to go above what would seem to be the call of duty, to help one person or another, due to the varied set of capabilities of each person. In one such case, after helping a broker get a new chair and a riser for his monitor, due to some back trouble he’d been having, and putting it all together and setting it up for him – in addition to the frequent “how do I do this” requests from him – he gave me a “thank you” envelope containing what I felt to be an excessive cash gift.

    This office can be pretty stressful at times. There are occasional small gifts like this extended to the administrative staff or to me, for putting up with the momentary craziness or hostility. I usually refuse, they say no, I want you to have it, and it’s done. But it’s a small amount. Five bucks. Twenty. Something like that. Here, it was considerably more, and I didn’t feel right about it. So I was looking for help in how I might politely refuse or give the gift back to him.

    But I didn’t find anything that felt right. I know why he did it. He’s a very humble person, very focused on his work, very giving with regard to assistance to others when needed, respected in the industry for being a highly competent, straight shooter. He knows that due to his lack of certain computer skills however, he can be a bit trying to deal with sometimes. And he was truly appreciative.

    This article actually gives me a totally different perspective on it. In fact, in the middle of writing this, he came in to my office to ask me something, and I started to tell him that I thought the gift had been too much. And he recounted what I just said above, about why he gave it to me, and how appreciate he was.

    So I really appreciate the perspective you’ve given on graciously accepting a gift here. For someone who knows that he asks for help perhaps more than others, this is his opportunity to turn it around, and to feel particularly good about it. Thank you for helping me to see that!

  • T

    Hi Janice, I recently looked up the inability to receive trying to understand why my male friend wouldn’t let me give him and his two kids their Christmas gifts. He has been incredibly supportive to the extent of opening his home to me over the past year. I wanted to show my appreciation for this by buying him and his two girls a Xmas gift. I expected nothing in return as I felt the friendship he had shown me was more than enough. Although he wouldn’t let me give them to them and made excuse after excuse about being to busy or out so I was forced to leave them at his door on Christmas eve as I felt although he wouldn’t accept them that he should still have them. Lol I feel maybe now it was the wrong choice as I haven’t heard from him since not even a thank you and it has left me feeling embarrassed and hurt that I even bothered to go to the effort. When I realized he was avoiding accepting them I didn’t push it, I just left it until Xmas eve and left them at the front door. Was I too pushy at giving them and forcing him to accept and offended him?
    Cheers T

  • Emily Greene