Yes, it’s that time of year. It’s time for the holidays – the family, the in-laws, the turkey (or handmade raviolis at my mom’s house); it’s time for the gifts and the charity and the slacking off at work. I know that if you are reading this, you aren’t one of those slackers – I was referring to those “other” people at work. 😉

So while others will write about giving during this holiday season, I’d like to talk to you about receiving – specifically your ability and comfort with receiving.

Most folks when asked “What do you want?” will say “I dunno” or hem-haw around the topic. They will try to analyze the person asking, figure out if they are going to be judged by their answer. Sometimes they try to think about what the other person might be able to afford and temper their answer. They may judge themselves in terms of what they think they deserve. Those little stories from the voices inside of our heads wonder “What is the right or appropriate answer?” Often, we never truly answer the question.

As you know human beings are a communal species. We like to get together. Our ability to stay emotionally and physically healthy relies upon our ability to accept and receive gifts, both tangible and intangible. Refusing to receive or limiting your REception due to some limited PERception has been shown to cause us to be prone to addiction, obsession, codependency, feeling empty and alone or have an eternal emotional thirst that’s never quite satisfied.

The cure is to be open to receiving. Stop walling off your heart and your mind and learn to receive fully and wisely by accepting good gifts and refusing the damaging ones. Yes, I said refusing the damaging gifts – like that all expense-paid guilt trip that Aunt Millie wants to send you on.

I read an article by Martha Beck* recently where she recommended a great way to practice giving and receiving – after all a new skill requires practice, right?

So here’s what you do…

  1. Take a bill from your wallet that’s large enough that you’d be upset if you lost it—maybe $1, maybe $100.
  2. Go to a public place, like a park or mall, and find a spot with sporadic foot traffic. Wait until no one’s looking.
  3. Place your money on the ground and
  4. Retreat to a spot nearby, where you can see whoever finds it. The money is your gift to this person.

Now, as you wait, listen to the dialogue in your mind. What is your brain saying to you?

  • “I hope that some “well-deserving” child finds the money.”
  • “Oh crap, what if it’s some drug addict finds it and acquires their next fix.”
  • “Is Bernie Madoff still in prison? I don’t want some white collar crook to get it.”
  • “Oh no, what if it’s a little old fragile lady and she breaks a hip trying to pick it up?”

No matter who finds the cash, be sure to watch them as they pick it up. Then, rather than judge their reactions and try to ascertain their motives or figure out their story, simply wish them well.

Martha says if your giving capacity is out of whack, your receiving capacity probably is out of whack too. If you are judgmental about who receives your gifts, you are probably judgmental about receiving the gifts given to you.

Why do you care who picks up the money? Seriously, that’s not a rhetorical question. You see those critics inside of your head that constrain your charity are the very critics that are keeping your from receiving. Those thoughts you have that sound like:



  • “You don’t deserve that.”
  • “You didn’t earn this.”
  • “Crap, now I have to go get another gift for them!”
  • “I wonder what they want from me?”


As you teach your mind to outlast those comments from your critics, you’ll find a peace in your giving and your receiving. You’ll let go of the feelings that cause you to have certain criteria around the gifts that you give (like repayment or deservedness)… and around the gifts that you receive.

Once you’ve begun to open your heart and your mind to truly giving with “no strings attached,” you will have also begun to receive in that same manner.

Perhaps, just perhaps, you might also receive the gifts that you were given that are yours and yours alone… the desires, ambitions, and talents that are a part of who you are… that were given to you by your creator the moment you were born.

Remember… You can do it!   I really do believe in you!

I’d love to hear from you. Please put you comments below!