How to Give… and Receive

A few months ago, I decided that I wanted one word… a thought or mantra that I could use to guide my days. I would make a giant painting to hang on my wall so that it would be the first thing I saw every morning. I chose “GIVE.” You see the results of my efforts here.

Zen Mommy, remember how I asked you about picture hangers?!

After much contemplation, I realized that it was the wrong word! Giving may be my gift but it is in fact… receiving that is my lesson! The tension between the two is ubiquitous, for mommies and daddies alike! Using only ONE, without the other is imprudent especially for me, since I already have a tendency to give too much (see the infamous turkey story).

It’s really finding the balance between the two that’s the secret. My Life Coach Tara says the same thing about Giving and Receiving, unsolicited:

There is an art to giving as well as receiving. Many mothers give to the point of creating a bottomless pit of giving. As I write this many of us are in the middle of the giving season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. All year long, but especially during the holiday season mothers are pushed to their breaking point of giving. Yet very few moms had anyone show them how to give without breaking.

Giving… as an art, means having boundaries and self-confidence. Boundaries create balance that can last a lifetime. Those boundaries also create and reinforce self-confidence. Creating balance and building self-confidence require practice and more practice. Mothers are allowed to say no. You can say no to your children, spouse, work, church, and volunteer opportunities. It’s where that art comes into play. I have a favorite statement… “We teach people how to treat us.” If we always say yes people expect us to say yes. If we have no boundaries, they expect us to lay down and act like a mat to be walked on. So, say no when you need to. That means before your overwhelmed, before you have to stay up late to get it all done, before you have to be in two places at once. Limit the time you spend on giving. Think about it, giving comes in two forms: time and money. Say no before you break the bank. Say no before you have to go to the grocery store to buy more ingredients to bake one more batch of cookies for your co-workers. In fact, stop, and say yes to yourself. Say yes to taking 10-15 minutes a day to relax and refill your internal energy glass. Say yes to time with your family at home. Say yes to your budget and no to big credit card bills and debt. It’s also OK to reuse gift bags and to wrap gifts simply. People will have a deeper respect for you if you have boundaries and self-confidence. They will appreciate you more for taking care of yourself. In the long run it teaches your children how to care for themselves and how important their mother is.

Receiving requires even more self-confidence and balance in one’s life. It is very hard for those who give a lot of themselves to receive. Many of us feeling guilty for receiving, many of us feel like were less than we should be also. Giving and receiving is a balance, it’s like Yin and Yang. You must have one with the other. Without both, things go out of balance and harmony is lost. When you give to others, they want the chance to give back. They want to repay you with the kindness you once gave them. In fact when we refuse to receive from others we are denying them a chance to give. How many times did you hear it’s better to give than receive from your mother? Take a deep breath and relax. For instance when someone gives you a compliment, look them in the eye, take a deep breath, and say Thank you. And stop right there! Just let that compliment sink in. Store it in your brain for a later date when you need to remember positive things about yourself. Receiving may mean asking for help when your overwhelmed and over scheduled. Receiving comes in many forms, verbal, time, and money. Allow those gifts to flow into your life in all those forms. If you need to delegate a task, do so. If you need to ask for help to get something done, do so. Everybody has talents and the people who are waiting to give to you may have talents in areas you don’t, give them the chance to utilize their talents. If you tend to be a giver, and I know you are because you’re a mother and you’re reading this, you are surrounded by people who want to allow you a chance to receive. Receive those gifts, take a deep breath, say Thank you, and stop right there. Let the balance of giving and receiving sink in.

Tara S. Dickherber, M.Ed, CPC is a Certified Professional Coach and Certified ScreamFree Parent Leader. She has also taught yoga for many years and combined these talents into being a passionate life coach who helps people overcome their own stumbling blocks to create balance and harmony in their life.

Thanks, Tara! Can you believe I was going to put G-I-V-E, 3-feet tall on my wall!!! THAT was a near disaster averted. Maybe a better word would be “KISMET” or “LUCKY.” So um… I need a new word. “GIVING AND RECEIVING” is too long and “B-A-L-A-N-C-E” just does not fit my feng shui aesthetic! 🙂 Suggestions, anyone? What’s your word?


  1. hmmm…that’s something to think about. especially if i were going to put it on my wall! i suppose i always try to be happy and make sure that my loved ones are happy, so i’d go that route…happy, content, etc.

  2. Metta- Loving Kindness Or is it Metha? I’m not Indian nor do I speak fluent Sanskrit…Thanks for having me on your blog!

  3. The only dead language they offered at my high school was Latin. But I’ll take Metta!

  4. Nocks Rocks says:

    I would have to say my word changes….I am still trying to figure out the latest one.

  5. I agree. Moving target… today, it’s COMMIT! 🙂

  6. Allow

  7. I LOVE YOU!