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Is it better to give or to receive?

"'Tis better to give than receive," the saying goes. But is the saying true?

Ah, the holidays . . . Are you making your gift list and checking it twice? What comes up for you when you think about holiday shopping, Black Friday (which seems to start earlier every year), or what gift suggestion to send to your very-well-meaning-but-a-little-too-insistent friend or family member who wants to know exactly what to buy for you?

Whether you revel in gift exchanges or find the entire process forced and commercialized, you are not wrong.

My challenge to you, however, is to look a little deeper at your feelings related to (a) giving and (b) receiving. Not just in the context of giving and receiving tangible holiday or birthday gifts but on a regular basis.

Let's use compliments as an example: How do you respond when others compliment you?

Your colleagues rave over the brownies you brought to the office. What do you say?

✦ "Thank you!" ✦ "Oh, it was nothing... I used a store-bought mix." ✦ "Well, they aren't anywhere near as good as those cookies Susan brought yesterday!" ✦ "Thank you; I like your tie!"

If you deflect compliments or feel compelled to return a compliment, what's the feeling that comes up? Are you uncomfortable receiving compliments?

Another example: Unexpected holiday gifts

You and your friend Rachel are fairly close but have never exchanged gifts. This year, Rachel gives you a present! How do you respond?

✦ You tell her that the gift you ordered for her hasn't arrived - yet - and then lickety split order something for her (rush delivery!). ✦ You thank her and say you can't wait to use/enjoy the gift. ✦ You spend 20 minutes profusely thanking her and saying what a jerk you are that you didn't know you were exchanging presents and you can't believe you didn't buy her anything, and on and on and on. ✦ You fret over whether to buy her something, how much to spend, whether she's expecting a gift in return, and basically overthink and overanalyze the entire situation until you're frozen by indecision.

What do you notice as you answer the questions above? What feelings arise?

Now, let's flip the scenarios. You are the compliment- and gift-giver.

How do you feel complimenting others?

✦ I love to compliment others - it makes me feel good to acknowledge what someone else does well! ✦ I hesitate to compliment others; I don't want them to feel uncomfortable. ✦ I compliment people so that they'll like me more. People like to be complimented.

✦ I compliment out of a feeling of obligation. I may not mean it, but I do it to keep things copacetic. ✦ I always return compliments. If someone says something nice about me, I feel like I need to say something nice about them, but I rarely give compliments first.

How do you feel about giving tangible gifts?

✦ I give gifts for obvious occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. ✦ I love buying and giving gifts for special occasions or no occasion at all. If I'm out and see something I know my friend would like, I buy it for her and give it to her the next time I see her! ✦ I give gifts to people out of a feeling of obligation. I don't enjoy gift-giving. ✦ I only give gifts when I know the recipient will be giving me a gift in return.

Take some time to honestly assess your answers. Is there anything you'd like to change related to how you feel about giving and receiving?


I hope that considering the questions above has enlightened you to your behaviors and thoughts regarding giving and receiving. No matter how you answered the questions, becoming more aware of how and why you give and receive can ultimately make the experiences more enjoyable for everyone!

A few gift-giving and -receiving tips, from my heart to yours: ❤︎ If you cringe at receiving gifts from others, try giving to yourself. Become more comfortable recognizing what you want and need and practice meeting your own desires.

❤︎ If you think gift-giving should be tit-for-tat, practice giving without expecting anything in return or to those who will not reciprocate (like to a local charity). Notice how it feels.

❤︎ If you give out of a sense of obligation, consider what you might change about the giving process that would make it feel more enjoyable.

Want to dive deeper into the whys and hows related to your giving and receiving patterns? Join me Sunday, December 11, at 5 p.m. CT for a free special small-group coaching session on Giving and Receiving! Click HERE to sign up!

Finally, What could you give to YOURSELF as 2022 ends and we prepare for 2023?

Sign up for my Free Goal-Setting session and learn more about my new signature program: Get FREE in '23!

Questions, comments, or want more clarity on what your gift-giving and -receiving styles might mean about you? Reach out! I'd love to hear from you.

💜 Lily

*Note: While this post does not address the gift "love language" discussed in the excellent book The Five Love Languages, if giving and/or receiving gifts is someone's love language, that will likely highly impact how they respond to my questions above!

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