Learning to Receive

Just because you can do it yourself, doesn’t mean you should.

I have a confession to make: for most of my life, it was difficult for me to receive. Over the years I can’t tell you how many compliments, gifts, relationships, offers of help, and money I’ve turned away due to my inability to simply receive and say a graceful “Thank You.”

Both at home, and in my business I thought I could (and should) handle everything myself. Of course I could ask for help around the house, or outsource some parts of my business, “But no on can do it as well as I can,” was how my story went.


If someone wanted to help with dishes after thanksgiving dinner, I’d tell them “Relax, I’ve got it.”
If someone complimented me on my hair, I’d get uncomfortable and say something like “ugh, my roots are so bad!”
If someone wanted to buy me lunch, I’d say “oh no, don’t worry about it.”
When someone apologized for missing an appointment, I told them “no worries.”
When my boyfriend bought me an iPad, I secretly panicked.

Receiving wasn’t just uncomfortable, it was downright painful.
I know I’m not alone in this.

A few years ago I was at the grocery store when I saw a young mom with newborn twins checking out. She was fumbling with her wallet, the babies were fussing, she had a completely full grocery cart, and looked totally overwhelmed. When the bagger asked if she wanted help to her car, she looked around and said those famous super-woman words that every mother has said: “oh…no, it’s ok, I got it.”

My jaw dropped, and I said to the bagger, “she’s a new mom, of course you should help her.” She looked embarrassed and replied, “ no, it’s too much trouble, I’m ok,” and walked out of the store to tackle the task alone.

I saw so much of myself in that woman, and it really started to brew questions inside of me. Why is it so difficult for us as women to receive? Why do we feel that we need to do it all ourselves? The answers I found were not at all what I expected…

Like most people I was raised hearing things like “It’s better to give than receive,” and so I always thought I was just a giver, not a receiver. Isn’t this a good thing? But the truth had nothing to do with giving or receiving. The truth was that I was a control freak. I loved being in control, and in order to receive I had to give up control, open myself up, connect with others, and worst of all, be VULNERABLE. When I gave to others, I was in control. When I received, I was was not.


Yes, receiving is about being open, vulnerable, and connecting with others. My inability toreceive from others was simply a way of trying to stay in control and protect myself. Receiving a compliment gracefully, means allowing myself to be seen (both good and bad). Receiving help means giving up control that things may not get done exactly the way I want them to. Receiving gifts, means allowing others to love me and believing I’m worthy. Receiving an apology when someone misses an appointment means allowing my time to be honored.

Over the years, I’ve learned to practice the art of receiving, and let me tell you- in the beginning, it was VERY uncomfortable. But with practice I was able to lean into the discomfort, and receivegracefully. Now, it’s become almost a spiritual practice. It’s the practice of knowing the world is an abundant and wonderful place, and of being fully present and open with others.

love-683926_1280If you’re a woman who rejects gifts, compliments, and help from others; If you do it all yourself, or if you’re a woman who is chronically busy and overwhelmed, then chances are you’re part of this club too. But there’s good news…. Life can get a whole lot easier and more fun when you learn to receive graciously. Your relationships will get deeper and more authentic, you’re life will be fuller, and you’ll suddenly have a bit of breathing room when you allow yourself to receive.

If you want some help on letting down your guard and learning to receive, I highly recommend picking up the book: “Things will get as good as you can stand (when you learn it’s better toreceive than to give)” by Laura Doyle.

Melanie Soleil

Melanie lives in Northern California with her daughter, fiance, and (super-cute) puppy. She owns a successful wedding and boudoir photography studio in Grass Valley, and publishes the annual Sierra Wedding Guide magazine. In addition to photography, Melanie holds a masters degree in healing science and has over 15 years of experience as a somatic therapist working with women.

Latest posts by Melanie Soleil (see all)