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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about the art of receiving and how to use it in your personal growth journey.



In this podcast you’ll find:

In our culture, we get a lot of emphasis on the importance of giving.

Giving is how we fight narcissistic tendencies and show compassion

We have lots of training on giving. No training on receiving.

The giver is nothing without the receiver.

If someone is attempting to give you something and you won’t receive it, you are taking from them the ability to give.

Sometimes when we reject gifts from others, it is because we worry about feeling a sense of obligation to return the favor.

If someone gives a gift with the idea of trying to bind you to a contract, then it’s not a gift.

The best way to combat a sense of obligation is to remove reciprocity off the table.

Pay it forward.

If we see every gift as a burden, it will result in us being crappy receivers.  

Remove obligation from the table as part of the transaction.

Sometimes we struggle with giving because we are afraid it will put the other person under obligation.

If someone feels an obligation after we offer them a gift that is on them, it shouldn’t affect your giving.

In marketing, you are taught to use this feeling of reciprocity. Give something away, so someone will feel beholden enough to purchase.

In the act of receiving, sometimes it creates a dynamic where the receiver feels vulnerable – they feel like they have lost control of the relationship.

One of the best ways to be okay with this power shift is to remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with being vulnerable.

Vulnerability opens us to genuine connection with another human being.

If you find yourself getting upset when placed under obligation, it may be a sign of some intimacy issues.

Vulnerability is the antidote against feeling alone in the world.

Give yourself the opportunity to open up and be vulnerable.

Love Languages podcast

Gifts don’t always need to be tangible. We can receive gifts in words.

When someone pays you a compliment, how do you respond? Do you reject the compliment and point out all your failures? 

Why do we do this? Do we interpret words of affirmation as empty platitudes or flattery? Or are we convinced we need to be self-effacing?

Deflecting all gifts may be a fear that we don’t deserve the gifts we are offered.

Get present with the situation and just let it be without judging it.

Get into your Perceiving or Learning process – N/S – which looks at life with curiosity from a neutral position.

The person giving you a gift isn’t concerned about your worthiness, or they think you are extremely worthy. Realize that and rest into it.

Don’t analyze the gift incentives at the moment. Be present and be a gracious receiver. Consider the incentives later.

Frequently energies that go out are the same energies that come back to us.

The universe is neutral as to what we will get, but we can influence those things with our behavior.

“I’ve got what it takes to have the life that attracts good things into it.”

If you can’t receive little things how will you receive the big things that come up in your life – like an ideal partner or job opportunity?

Shift from believing yourself undeserving to deserving.

Open yourself to the gifts of others and you will open to the gifts of the universe.

Instead of thinking, “Am I deserving of this gift?” say “Am I deserving of love?”

A gracious receiver accepts a person’s love and says “I love you, too” because I’m not going to reject your gift of love.

All of us feel rejected when we try to give somebody love, and they won’t receive it.

Stop seeing gifts as stuff and see them as manifestations of love.

“I will take your love and give you love back by accepting it.”

Set the tone for being the kind of society who regularly gives and receives love.

Questions for discussion: When have you had difficulty giving/receiving? Did you grow up in a family that impacted your ability to give/receive?



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Showing 14 comments
  • CrystalOak

    I’ve just listened to this podcast and there is some truly great things, but there are 2 points that I would like to look into more.

    Firstly, I find that I have quite particular tastes and really struggle when someone gives me a gift that I don’t actually want. These leave me in a very difficult place. As an INFJ I really really don’t want to hurt this person’s feelings. I recognise they are giving love in this gift and that my response to them is important. This is totally fine when it’s something that I love, but what when it isn’t? There is this massive obligation to take it and be grateful, and I resent that.

    Secondly, I grew up in a home where gifts were reserved for birthdays and Christmas. It wasn’t common for us to give gifts or to see gifts being given. Add to this the fact that my love language is quality time has meant that I am TOTALLY rubbish and either thinking of giving physical gifts, knowing the etiquette of giving gifts or what to give. Because of this I find that people give me things and I never return the gesture. I realise that you covered the feeling of obligation and the need to remove that from the dynamic, but there comes a time when if one person is always giving gifts and the other isn’t it’s going to hurt. Of course this means that when I am again given a gift I feel the guilt, obligation and self worth issues that you speak about.

    How would you deal with these situations?

    • James

      Hi CrystalOak! Hey if you don’t mind I’d like to try and help. These two situations seem to keep you in a pattern of pain and that affects me when I see someone hurting. One of the greatest gifts I can give anyone is my quality time, since this appeals to you I decided to share my time with you, so hopefully you can feel better about these situations. What you are feeling is not strange or weird to me, it’s actually quite common, so there’s hope. Since you have been so honest and vulnerable in your post, and it’s something I value, I chose to give you my time, consider this an even trade. 🙂

      I want to explain why it’s happening then give you something to say to the gift givers for next time they intend to give you something from their hearts. I’m looking for win-win here.

      So the thing that often keeps people in pain, is their beliefs and rules, mainly what has to happen in order for them to feel good about any experience.

      Your experience of this reality has nothing to do with reality but is interpreted through the controlling force of the beliefs: specifically, the rules we have about what has to happen in order for us to feel good. These specific beliefs are called when we get pleasure when we get pain rules.

      Failure to understand their power can destroy any possibility for life long happiness, and a full understanding and utilization of them can transform your life as much as anything else.

      So let me ask you a question: What has to happen in these two situations in order for you to feel good?

      So if I examine this to give you some hints the following rules apply to you:

      1. You have to receive something that you want.
      2. It has to be on a holiday when receiving a gift is appropriate for the occasion.

      The two rules above as you mentioned are your feel good rules. Next is your rules for feeling bad.

      1. You have to show gratitude for receiving a gift that you don’t want. ( Not showing gratitude is bad)
      2. You feel obligated to give something physical of equal or greater value. (Etiquette of gift giving)

      Both your feel bad rules are based on society’s expectations of good and bad, are they really your rules or society’s rules that you follow?

      There is nothing wrong with being committed and doing everything you can to accomplish something of value to you. However we have to make clear distinctions to change our quality of life for the better.
      One distinction I can make here is that these rules are adopted from what was modeled for you as a child, you mentioned that you grew up in a family where gifts were only given during birthdays and Christmas. So this rule of giving gifts at those times is a learned behavior, I see where you learned this by observing what your parents did, so you assumed that this was a rule to follow, however, if you’d like to change this rule you can give yourself permission to do so or you can call home and ask for permission to receive gifts anytime of the year, as silly as that sounds it will help you make that decision if your family is OK with it because I can see where as you value what your family thinks of you to such an extent that if you break their rules you’ve learned they may not think well of you, so I think it’s best to ask. This is just one solution, get your family’s permission to change your rules.

      So keep in mind that our personal rules are the ultimate judge and jury to whether or not we see ourselves as good or bad people. These rules will always determine if we meet a certain value if we feel good or bad or if we get pain or pleasure.

      One of the things I want to task you with is consider all your rules you have for everything that you do or experience, decide if those rules give you pain or pleasure and then think of ways to change these rules if need be to give you more pleasure in your life and support your values.

      Here’s another solution to give you immediate relief from the pain of feeling obligated to reciprocate the physical gifts you receive. When you receive a gift simply say thank you, that is enough to satisfy the need for gratitude for anyone that gives from their heart with out an agenda, if someone is giving from a place of reciprocation, you really are under no obligation to reciprocate anything physical, just say thank you and leave it at that they’re being immoral not you. However I promised you a win-win solution and here it is:

      When you receive a gift, say thank you, then to gift your own gift of love in return ask the giver to accompany you on a walk, or invite them for coffee or whatever quality time thing you want to share with them. If you want to persuade someone to give you something you want, you can indirectly mention when they are around within hearing distance that the next time you get a gift, you would like it to be something that is something that interests you, you can even start a conversation about gift giving and add what it is that feels like a gift to you. You could easily say I’d rather go out to a movie than receive something physical as you are not a materialistic person, spending time with friends, family or someone special is the greatest gift you could ever ask for. Try that and see how it works.

      Something to also consider about rules you learned and that is to consider other peoples rules that you have adopted. Question things like, my family taught me to only receive gifts on birthdays and Christmas. Why? Was it because they didn’t have money, didn’t believe in physical gifts, but believed that quality time spent together as a family was gift enough. Did they only give gifts on those two times because they didn’t want you to be spoiled even if they could afford it, or maybe they just did it, so that you wouldn’t feel left out around other children that talked about what they got for Christmas after the break, and maybe they wanted you to feel good and normal like other children that got gifts on their birthdays so that you didn’t think that there was something wrong with you or you were bad in some way. Just some things to consider that maybe having an effect on you now but not longer apply to you today and are within your power and control to change these rules for your benefit considering that they may not actually be rules at all if you were not directly told they were family rules. Keep in mind the positive intention of your families actions, they had a good reason to model these rules for you, there was something your family valued that inspired those rules.

      I hope this helps. 🙂


      • Charis Branson

        Wow, James! Thank you for the gift of your words. I am going to journal about all the personal rules I have that are causing me pain. What an awesome reframe! Thank you for sharing it. 🙂

        • James

          Hi Charis! You are most welcome. Thank you for your kindness, it means a lot to me. You have earned my respect and are quickly earning my trust. 🙂 Since educational things interest you and also since I was speaking to the Ti of these INFJs on here, let me give you a little mini training in how this rules thing works.

          1. Make a list of the top 10 positive things that are important to you from most important to least important. These are your moving toward values, it’s what gives you the most pleasure.

          2. Ask your self the question, what has to happen for you to feel or succeed in obtaining each of these values? These will be your rules that give you pleasure.

          3. Make a list of the top ten negative things that are important for you to avoid from most painful to least painful. These will be your moving away values.

          4. Ask yourself the question what has to happen for me to feel or succeed in avoiding these things? These are the rules that give you pain.

          I’m going to give an example of this, using Laurie just a name I made up to show you what this looks like and how it works, I’m not focusing on any results here just making the list of values and rules.

          Laurie’s moving toward values:


          So now we ask the question: What has to happen for her to feel love?

          Her answer: I have to feel like I’ve earned it. I have to feel like all my beliefs are accepted and approved by every person I meet. I can’t feel like I’m loved unless I’m perfect. I have to be a great mother, a great wife, and so forth…

          Instantly we can see the problem. Love is the highest value on her list, and the greatest source of pleasure for her. Yet her rules do not allow her to give herself this pleasure unless she meets these complex criteria which she has no control over. If any of us base our ability to feel loved dependent on everyone accepting our views, we wouldn’t feel loved very often would we? There are just too many people with different beliefs, and therefore too many ways for us to feel bad.

          Take a look at Laurie’s moving away values those things that she hates and gives her the most pain, just the top 3 values and the rules that support them, will leave her in pain.

          Laurie’s moving away values and rules, top 3:

          Value: Rejection
          Rule: I feel rejected if someone doesn’t share my beliefs, and if someone seemingly knows more than I do.

          Value: Failure
          Rule: I feel like a failure if someone doesn’t believe I’m a good person. I feel like a failure if I don’t feel like I support myself or my family enough.

          Value: Anger
          Rule: I feel anger when I don’t feel like what I do is appreciated, when people judge before they know me.

          So just notice how easy it is for Laurie to feel bad and how hard it is for her to feel good. I would imagine she feels very unhappy most of the time.

          This is a partial and mini training to get you started, If you would like to go through this whole thing with me so you can use it to help others, let me know I’d be happy to see this make a difference in peoples lives.

          I hope this helps and I’m working on a response to the email response you sent me, I have some more INFP insights I found and also your Ni works just fine, I gave it some thought and you were right on all 3 points you made. Which lead to me making more connections and filling in puzzle pieces.


          • Charis Branson

            Thanks James! All of that is going to take some serious digging, but I look forward to it. I’ve already had some Aha moments thanks to your initial comment. 🙂

      • CrystalOak

        Wow James, thank you for spending the time to write this. I appreciate that a lot.

        You have given me a lot to think about. I am already aware of rules I have taken on that give me pain but hadn’t really thought of this one. As yet I am not sure how to go about changing those rules but doing so is a major focus for me at the moment… so… one foot in front of another I will work towards doing it, and I will include this one in that work.

        Thank you again 🙂

  • Jonathan

    As a musician, and heavily identifying as one, I was perceived as quite skilled in the general population. I would be given compliments and not know what to do with them, feeling they were directed at my self.
    However, when I explored cooking and baking (not my skill set!) I began to keep a little distance between my self and my work, along with any compliments. This allowed me to realize that when someone unskilled in art appreciates it when performed (music, food, dance) they are displaying a high taste for quality, despite not having skill built around it.
    This is more reflective not simply of the artists performance or effort, but also to the givers recognition of greatness.

    This exploration allows me to receive the compliment heartily and immediately share it with the giver “I’m so glad you were able to perceive the beauty in it!”

    We all win!

    Thanks Personality Hacker for your products around growth and development.

    • Charis Branson

      That is an interesting perspective, Jonathan! Now imagine if you rejected such a compliment. You would be saying, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t have the skills to notice talent when you see it.” So, you not only rob the complimenter of the gratification that comes with rewarding talent, but you may also prevent them from ever offering positive feedback to anyone else.

  • Kira

    I am extremely uncomfortable with gifts. I’ve trained myself to receive compliments well because honestly I know its more likable, not that I feel worthy of it. I’m an infj and like the first commenter I feel a lot of resentment toward the giver. I’m thinking I feel so unfinished as a person and my personal growth, that I have no copacity to relax and even begin to set myself aside to give to someone else. Then I feel intimidated that this person giving to me must be so much more self content and at ease about themselves. I don’t feel like I can get to that level of self worth to feel able to have anything to offer worth, because I don’t want to give something meaningless and inauthentic. I have a friend that is very detailed and extravigent in her gifts and she continues to keep them coming even though I can barely make her and her husband dinner without feeling drained. I’m certain she is a type 2w3 on the enneagram , so hey what do I expect lol but that also tells me I’m dealing with a person who actually does expect gifts back even though she always says otherwise.
    Maybe I can hear some words about how to communicate with a person like this about gift boundaries without upsetting them, and also some words about how to be able to get past feelings of intimidation.

    Thanks for reading 🙂

    • Charis Branson

      Hey Kira! Thanks for the comment. Did you read James response to the initial commenter? I think he has some great advice on reframing the narratives we tell ourselves.

    • James

      Hi Kira! 🙂 I have some good news for you. I did some research for you. I remembered an article on Thought Catalog, that was authored by Heidi Priebe, she surveyed her readers and guess what?!
      Well the good news is when she asked them to take the 5 love languages test, 14 out of 16 personality types preferred quality time as their #1 love language, only two types said physical affection was #1 for them and all said that gifts were the lowest for them. So that alone should give you some insight and relief that your friend doesn’t really enjoy giving you gifts even if she’s good at it, it’s more so she’s following some arbitrary social rule she was taught by her parents that you don’t visit anyone empty handed. So to solve your first problem, you don’t have to accept any gifts because you actually by not wanting to accept them you let them off the hook from this social custom that they don’t really want to do anyway.

      So to address your second problem here, how to tell her this without upsetting her, well I would suggest saying Thank you for the gifts that she brings and let her know what you would prefer such as quality time. So maybe suggest a movie or coffee or something that interests you and them consider perhaps a game night and drinks and snacks, nothing elaborate, just good fun, conversation and good company. When you do call your friend to invite her over, tell her directly what you want, bring yourselves, and I’ll provide games drinks and snacks then next week we can switch if she wants. That’s a nice thing to say and surprisingly let’s her break her old rules that she thinks she is supposed to follow, because it’s socially acceptable.

      Another obvious thing I want to point out is that, as introverts we have rules and criteria for who we become friends with, obviously we become friends with people of like values, interests, and rules, they won’t be exact but similar, so I think it’s safe to say that your friend really is more like you in the wanting quality time versus giving gifts and I think she was being honest about not wanting anything in return because that too is probably a rule for her, and you two finding out what your rules are and what your values are may bring the two of you closer and ensure more intimacy, love and connection between you, imagine how relived both of you would feel if you both found out that you two thought in similar ways on the same issues, I bet the two of you have had those things in common already and that is another reason why you two are friends. Just something to consider, chances are both of you have too many rules that give you pain versus giving you pleasure and learning this I think it’s important to know that you have permission to change those rules because they no longer serve you as they once did.

      I hope this helps.


    • CrystalOak

      Hi Kira

      I have no advice, just support and to say I hear you completely.. I relate to what you say. I hope you find answers.

  • Karen

    Great podcast. I think there is something that should be acknowledged, which is a combination of your first two points: obligation and power. In our society, it can be especially risky for women to accept gifts from men because there so often is that sense of expectation of a very specific type of reciprocity. It’s not always easy to understand what the male giver’s expectation is, and this can color my willingness to receive. Much of the time, I simply don’t want to invest the energy into figuring it out.

    I believe that there are two levels (at least!) for evaluating personal relationships: internal (MBTI, etc.) and external (the power dynamics in our society). In my opinion, one needs to think through both to be complete.

  • Juha Stark

    Thank you for an amazing podcast. This really opened my eyes for my own behaviour as being an INFJ. The issue I have has always has been a self-worth issue. In the past I have done some horrible and selfish things that remind me that I am not worthy of the love or appreciation that I am getting. But in reality that past is past and what I am receiving now is coming to me since the “cosmos” feels I am worthy of the things I am offered.

    Karma is often understood as an action and reaction but karma is also a programming. It us our inner software of who and what we are. According to what we are within life will change how we perceive world outside. So when good things are coming to us it is our inner karma taking a more tangible manifestation. Abundance is never hold back from us. It is we who has our cups full of something else that makes it impossible for thar abundance to come to us. If we wish to receive we need to empty our cups ot perhaps turn them the right way up and let life pour its love on us. Love is not affection as we think it is. Love is pure joy of being alive and experiencing life to its fullest. So shutting ourselves because of self-worth issues we shut ourselves out from truly enjoying the sweet fruits of life 😉

    Thank you once again and all the Best Wishes!

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