Why is receiving so difficult?

Each year during the season of giving, I find it to be so difficult for many of us to be on the receiving end of gifts. Like many of you, I find it much easier to be the nurturer and giver because I feel so wonderfully fulfilled by helping others. But the sneaky other side of that statement is that I often equate receiving with worthiness and I feel greedy if I take too much. So much so that I have seemingly no problem pouring from an empty cup? It just goes to show that many of us have some work to do before we go into potentially stressful holiday dynamics with colleagues and family.

Last week I had a profound experience that gave me the perceptive to shift my overall mindset towards the difficulty with energetic exchange.

One of my clients who lost their home in the Woolsey fire came in for a facial. And before you think "Why is she coming in for a facial when she just lost her home?", keep in mind that she already had an appointment scheduled and that my facials are this woman's favorite form of self-care. Plus, her boyfriend forced her to come in since he knew how much it would make her feel better.  I help her dive into some of her deepest meditation through my facial massage and she finally gets to disconnect from helping others (she's a counselor) and finds time to nurture herself.

I felt a huge responsibility to just stay present with her. To let my agenda for the day slip away and just follow my heart. I tapped into my Yin listening skills and worked on her for almost 2 hours straight. Afterward, I realized how much I have to give her and stocked her with as many full-size products and samples that I could find. I also (obviously) didn't charge her. She gave me the most beautiful gift of perspective that I didn't get into this work for money or to become well-known. I love my work because I can help people throughout the stages of their lives. I've seen people through their deepest stages of grief and turmoil, and it's a privilege to hold space for them. The energetic exchange is far greater than any financial gain.

What was so easy for me to give was also really difficult for her to receive. She was telling me during her treatment that she had friends offering her a go-fund me campaign and it was difficult to accept. So many of us are taught to be fair and that everything must equal out to an even exchange, but for many of us who are givers, the exchange of equal doesn’t always add up. Breaking up with this habit isn’t something that I am an expert in to be able to share some sage advice in but there are recurring themes that come up in my personal life and in my professional practice that have helped me when I’m depleted and still giving too much of myself.

Saying YES to yourself can often be as difficult as saying NO to someone else’s needs. The truth is that no one is really aware of how their needs may potentially be depleted to yours, so the more you say YES to self-care, nights in, and receiving whatever it is that fills you up - the more you’ll have the balance needed for any exchange. Most skincare conditions I treat are in dire need to nourishment because of the intense amount of depletion that the organ is experiencing. That depletion is typically a mix of environmental triggers that overload our detoxification system and the overuse of stripping skincare products that further the potential for long-term damage despite the promise of a perfected complexion. So when I get a client who is looking to change their skincare, it’s not as simple as infusing the right antioxidants and they’re set. The skin can have an adverse response because it is so conditioned to the new normal of having to overwork in order to protect you. It takes time to build that trust in the skin again by slowly forming the habits that start to regain that balance again.

The key is learning to take away what isn’t serving your skin first and slowly introducing habits and products that will help your skin naturally heal again. After you condition it this way for an extended period of time, you will become more more in tune with the conversation your skin is having with you.

Our relationship with giving and receiving is the exact same. I’m the first to volunteer myself for an event or a facial that will help others, but I’m the last that will sign up for a yoga class I really want to take. Little actions are what can start to make the major shift. And the universe has a funny way of reminding you when you need it most. After pushing myself for almost 2 months straight, my body forced me to take some time off by getting sick. The sleep I got was so needed that I actually feel like my vision improved and my thoughts were clearer than ever.


If giving is something that gives you fulfillment, I want you to remember that giving to yourself first will make the experience so much more vibrant and worthwhile for you. The opportunities to share your gifts, talents, and generosity to the world are only limited by how depleted you might be. Take a few minutes each day to just fill your cup up a little bit by going on a walk, reading a book, or taking an extra few minutes in your skincare ritual to just honor yourself. Every time you do this, you saying to yourself that you are deserving of care and the care you give to others will be so much more full.

I hope this resonates with some of you who struggle with this like I do. Most of my identity has been shaped by how I service others, but I stop recognizing myself if I get lost in why I do what I love. I love to help others realize their potential and their worth through full acceptance of themselves, but if I don’t practice what I preach I quickly become a worn out vessel where the gifts I have to give turn to nothing. Before you go on your next holiday outing, I want you to remember how you important it is for you to receive some support and love. We all deserve it more than ever.

Have a beautiful Thanksgiving everyone!