Which Is Better – Giving or Receiving? A Guest Post by Jenny Hansen

Welcome to Life List CLub Friday! I have the fabulous Jenny Hansen from More Cowbell sitting in for me today. Jenny has discovered a new way to think about when and how much we give of ourselves.

Meanwhile, I’m over at Lara Schiffbauer’s blog with a few steps that will improve your financial health.

Then you can have some fun hopping to all the other LLC blogs listed in my sidebar. We have some of the best writers online today as contributing writers to LLC. Don’t miss out!

You’re on, Jenny!

Which Is Better – Giving or Receiving?

giving your heart

image source: Google

 A tweet came across my screen the other day from one of my favorite blogs (LeadershipFreak) titled, “It’s Better to Give than Receive” and Other Lies. If that’s not a catchy title, I don’t know what is.

From the cradle, Americans are drilled with lessons on how “giving is a virtue.” Give, give, give…

  • Take care of your fellow man.
  • If you want friends, you must share.
  • Give to the poor, feed the hungry, care for the sick.

 There is nothing wrong these lessons. They just aren’t the entire picture.

 There is a time to give and a time to receive.

 The post I linked to above, by Jesse Lyn Stoner, takes on an issue that I rarely hear people discuss:

 Receiving is actually HARDER than giving.

 Giving is easier than receiving, but that doesn’t mean it’s always better. Here’s the 9 reasons she gives that receiving is good:

  1. It reminds you that you’re not in charge
  2. It keeps you humble
  3. You allow others the opportunity to feel the pleasure of giving
  4. You get to experience gratitude
  5. You develop a realistic self-image
  6. You create a space for others to shine
  7. You begin to understand what strength really is
  8. You become a more well-rounded person
  9. Your relationships become richer

 Life List Club is about being brave enough to reach for your heart’s desire, no matter what it is. You make a “life list” and publicly state that “these things are important to me.” The members of the Life List Club have a varied list, ranging from lofty goals like being a better parent / grandparent / Christian / spouse all the way down to planting a garden.

Some of our goals are about giving to others, but many are about the things that we need to take time for or receive ourselves. Americans aren’t all that hot at receiving and it’s a lesson that takes some practice to learn.

Here’s a little test. How well do you:

  • Accept a compliment
  • Accept help
  • Let someone else lead a project
  • Allow someone to care for you when you’re sick.

90% of the people I know are terrible at most of the above.

In the LeadershipFreak post, Lyn makes the observation that it’s not always good to give. Giving when people can help themselves takes away their power and opportunity to grow, and keeps them dependent.

What’s important is knowing when to give and when to receive.

 A great example is the flight attendant spiel on an airplane. Do they tell you to help everyone around you first? No. They tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first so you don’t pass out before you start dispensing help to everyone around you. That’s darn good advice.

Like many writers I know, I struggle for balance. It’s been slow going to realize that I need to “fill up my own tank” before I give all my gas to the rest of the cars in my life.

What about you? Do you have a harder time giving or receiving? Do you struggle with balancing all the items on your “To Do List?”

Jenny HansenAbout Jenny Hansen

Jenny fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after the newly walking Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing.

 When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at jhansenwrites and at her group blog, Writers In The Storm. Every Saturday, she writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

Thank you, Jenny for a giving us a thought-provoking post and, in return, we’re going to give you lots of comment luv!


31 thoughts on “Which Is Better – Giving or Receiving? A Guest Post by Jenny Hansen

  1. Pingback: Free Smiles with Validation « Angela Wallace ~ Believe, Dream, Awaken

  2. Receiving graciously can be harder than sharing, but if you are unwilling to receive then what do you really have to share. If you are unwilling to receive then you rob the other person of the joy of sharing. Food for thought. Awesome post.

  3. Well lookie who I found over here? Well, you’re everywhere Jenny! And yes I can see where you would need to refill your well!

    I don’t have a problem with someone else taking the lead. But I am not comfortable with compliments and the other things you mentioned. What is that all about?

    Well I’m not going there. Wonderful post Jenny. I’ve been reading a lot of posts dealing with inner work in progress. Someone trying to tell me something, eh? 🙂

  4. I don’t do very good asking for help, but if it’s offered-and I need it- I like to think I do okay with receiving it. That being humble thing is a hard lesson, and giving up control can be extremely difficult. I think, too, that people have to think about how they are giving. Sometimes the best intentions can end up hurting more than if the assistance hadn’t been offered.

    • What an interesting viewpoint, Lara. I’m going to have to think on this comment. I do agree that good intentions with the motivation of “Look at me, I GAVE” can be so hurtful, whether people mean it or not.

  5. Lovely post, Jenny! It’s so true that we need to learn to receive too. That it’s not the same thing as taking. I sometimes have to remind my hubby of this when he gets into a tussle over who will pay a dinner bill. It’s lovely to be the one who treats but it’s good to let others be generous too.

  6. I have definitely always been better at giving than receiving. I remember many times over the years of having no vehicle and spending ridiculous amounts of money I didn’t have on cabs because I was too proud to let someone know I could really use a ride. I’ve gotten better as I get older, I think because I’ve learned to look at it as “accepting help where I need it will put me in a better position to use MY talents to give more.” I have begun to see giving and receiving as a circle rather than a line. If we all give of our strengths and accept support where we have weaknesses, then we all become stronger so that can use our unique gifts to make our worlds a better place.

  7. I’m not good at receiving compliments or gifts. I know it’s weird/wrong, since I’ll often insist on paying for someone’s lunch or coffee, but hate it when they offer to do the same for me. It might be rooted in the inaccurate belief that we need to earn love, so we give, give, give. I don’t know, but it’s a very interesting issue to talk about. Great post!

    • Thanks, Angela…I’ve tried to let people be on the giving end more often of late (must have something to do with being tired with a toddler) and it makes them SO happy. 🙂

  8. When I was younger, probably 18 or so, someone offered me gas money after driving them around for part of the day. Even though I was on a tight budget, I said no. The person looked at me, stuck the money in my glove compartment and before I could continue to protest, they told me, “If you experience joy is giving, how mean would it be for you to take that joy away from someone else?”

    That stuck with me. I’ve been raised to help and give. And I do believe that giving brings greater joy than receiving. But if I’m only the giver, who am I taking that joy away from?

    Lovely post!

    • That’s a great lesson to learn at such a young age…something you can carry with you all your life and obviously you did. It’s something we all need to remember. Thanks

    • Wow, that’s a powerful message your friend gave you. I wish I’d heard that when I was younger. That was totally me, saying no even though I needed the help/gas money/etc. Fortunately, I’ve read it now and it will stick with me.

  9. Jenny, this post was lovely and brilliant. I SUCK at asking for help and though I love compliments, I do not accept them well especially when they’re about appearance. I picked that up from my dad is who is such a hard worker. You’ve given me something to work on: to learn to receive graciously and to give to those who are givers themselves, to help them receive as well.

    • Jess, I didn’t mean to give you more work!! You work like three people already. But maybe the next time someone gives you a compliment, don’t brush it aside. Just give them a huge delighted smile and say, “THANK YOU!” 🙂

  10. Gah! This is totally me. I find it extremely difficult to accept a compliment or help, but I’m more than willing to give of myself at the drop of a hat. Oooh, I love what David Walker said up there, we need to have the grace to receive. I’m going to work on that one. Gave me a lot to think about on this gorgeous Friday morning, thank you!

  11. I am with David, you totally hit the nail right on the head with this one. I have a tough time creating a balance in my life. I am usually to the extreme YES or to the extreme NO. I am realizing that I need better balance between the two. If we don’t take care of ourselves and make sure our engines are running at peak performance, what will we truly have to share with others?!?!
    Great post Jenny!

  12. I have a tendency to give and give to others until there’s nothing left for me to focus on my greatest wants in life, things like writing the stories I want to write, doing yoga, eating healthier, etc. My New Year’s resolution for 2012 was all about striking a balance between giving and receiving. Old habits die hard, but I’m working on it. Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

    • Good for you, Janelle. It’s really, really hard, isn’t it? We’re trained from birth to give until we’ve got nothing left. Now that I’ve realized I do this, I’m trying to figure out how to teach my daughter to do it differently.

  13. As usual, Jenny, you’ve hit an important nail on the head. One day years ago in the small church I belonged to at the time, we stopped the service and spent 10-15 minutes picking out people to give money to. The object of that lesson was learning to receive. I’ve never had a problem since then. Nobody can be a giver unless someone has the grace to receive.

I love it when you tell me what you think!

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