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Is it Really Better for our Mental Health to Give than to Receive?


We’ve all the heard the maxim, “it’s better to give than to receive”, but is there more to this adage other than empty words? It would be fair to say that as we mature, we start to realise the joy that is brought to us by giving to others. We find that the act of giving evokes positive emotions within ourselves, as well as the receiver.

As a result, it can be said that giving and receiving are some of the most important exchanges we can have in regard to our mental wellbeing. From this, it can be deduced that it is better for us to give than to receive; however, there’s much more to answering such a big question. 

Giving vs. Receiving

Not only do the actions of giving and receiving affect our relationships with others, but they also play a role in the relationships we have with ourselves. In fact, most of us are better at one than the other. For instance, some people are natural givers and caretakers, while others are more used to being provided for and looked after. In an ideal world, this exchange would be effortless, meaning that if you do experience hardship in such, it’s always worth examining why. 

Of the two, giving is far more celebrated than receiving, but this can be a fatal mistake. As a person, it’s essential that you’re able to receive, as well as give. Otherwise, you may start to develop feelings of resentment and burnout; if you’re keen to look after others, you must first look after yourself. It’s impossible to pour from an empty cup and to be a good giver, you must also be a good receiver.

The Importance of Giving

Whenever you give, you should always ask yourself why. Whether you’re giving out of kindness, guilt, or any other type of feeling, it’s important to recognise what the motive behind your giving is. This isn’t a judgement of you, but it’s good to know what your most common reasons for giving are, so that you can be aware of your behaviours and thoughts. In order to give in a healthy capacity, you should always give without expecting anything in return and give from a place of love. Giving in this way will ensure that your cup doesn’t feel empty, and this will work to strengthen your relationships. 

On the opposite side of the coin, if the act of giving deflates you, this is unhealthy giving. As a result, not all forms of giving are better than receiving, and it must be practiced in a healthy manner to be beneficial to your mental wellbeing. 

The Importance of Receiving

It’s instilled into us that to enjoy receiving as much as or more than giving is a sign of a selfish individual. Despite this, receiving is as much of a necessity as giving, as without a receiver, there would be no giver. In fact, receiving graciously is very humbling, and it provides the people around you with opportunities to give. 

The reason that receiving gets such a negative reputation is that it’s often associated with demanding expectations. Therefore, in order to receive in a healthy capacity, one must not expect it as a more important or deserving individual. Similarly, everyone should learn to receive without feeling the obligation to give back. In a healthy exchange of giving and receiving, there are no expectations, and everything comes from a place of kindness and selflessness. The giver has gifted you something to make you happy, so you owe them a positive response.