Learn How To Receive with Joy!

10 Reminders for How to Receive Any Time of Year

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Do you remember being a kid and being so excited for Christmas morning or your birthday that you could barely sleep? As a child you knew how to receive with joy. These experiences were so pure. You hadn’t yet been talked out of feeling this joy so passionately. Sadly, as adults many of us don’t remember how to receive, even though as infants we were fully dependent on our mothers and could survive only if we received!

Our ability to receive openheartedly can be ruined by many different things.  Perhaps you were taught “don’t get your hopes up or you will be disappointed.” This misguidance was intended to protect you from pain, but it really stems from the unresolved pain of those who taught it to you. And this pattern can be generations deep. The end result is living in a bandwidth of “not too happy and not too sad.”

Worse yet, maybe you were taught that you don’t deserve to receive without giving something in return, as in the often heard old adage, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  This conveys the message that you are unworthy just as you are, which is completely untrue.

During my years of medical practice, I saw countless instances in which the only way a woman could receive support, attention, and care from her husband and children was when she was sick. I’ve also had numerous patients come to the realization that as children they had to get sick in order to receive their mother’s attention!

No wonder receiving can be so challenging! We’ve been taught that we have to earn it somehow — whether through performing tasks that make us more worthy, or through health problems. Even accidents are very often preceded by anger or sadness — emotions that let us know that we have a need that isn’t being met.

Amanda Owen writes in her book The Power of Receiving, “The only possible match for someone who doesn’t know how to receive is someone who doesn’t know how to give. Non-Receivers are drawn to non-Givers. In other words, the problem is not that you have been drawn to non-giving people, but that you are an inexperienced Receiver.”

6 Easy Practices for Learning to Receive

Knowing how to receive fully and joyfully must be consciously remembered in adulthood. Once you learn how to receive, your life becomes much more fulfilling and joyful than you might imagine possible.

Here are some of my favorite receiving practices:

Accept all compliments.

When someone says, “Oh, I love your dress,” your response should be “Thank you.” That’s it. Just thank you! Do not say, “I got it for five dollars at Goodwill.” That downgrades the compliment and devalues the gift you just received. Also, resist the urge to return the compliment by saying something like, “Oh! I like yours too.” You do not have to give something back when you are complimented. 

If receiving compliments right off the bat seems too difficult, try receiving compliments from the natural world. Imagine a tree or mountain or flower speaking to you and telling you how wonderful you are.

Simply listen as it says “You are beautiful.” Or, “you are intelligent.” Or even, “you are worthy.” Now breathe in these statements. Receive them right into your heart. And when you feel full, go about your day and notice what happens.

Say a Change Me prayer.

In her book Change Me Prayers, Tosha Silver notes that you can say a Change Me Prayer to help rewire your brain to be better at receiving.

You can say: “Divine Beloved, please change me into one who is willing to receive. Please change me into someone who knows her own worth. Please change me into someone who gratefully receives all that you have to offer me. Please change me into someone who provides others with the delight of giving to me.”

Receive from Mother Nature.

The late Peter Calhoun, a former Episcopal priest and shaman, taught people how to walk in nature so that they might receive the gifts that are there for them.

I was fortunate enough to have taken a workshop with him less than a year before he died, and this is what he taught us:

Keep your eyes soft. Move very slowly. When you come to a tree that speaks to you, stop, and just stand there.

He said that tree spirits come out very slowly. They are not used to having human attention. But human attention speeds up their evolution. Just stand there and love the tree. Allow it to love you back. Receive what the tree has to offer fully and wholeheartedly.

You might also gift the tree with some crystals or coins. Peter said that the nature spirits love this. You can do the same with stones, rocks, and other plants. And also bodies of water.

When you raise your vibration in nature, all of Creation sings with you.

Practice gratitude.

As I have said, when you get a compliment, you do not have to give a compliment back. However, receiving fully and joyfully does bring with it the gift of gratitude. When you speak your appreciation to the giver of a gift, you raise both of your vibrations. You also help encourage the cycle of giving and receiving healthfully. By saying “thank you,” and really feeling it deep down in your Soul, you bring light and ease to a sometimes difficult topic. 

I was inspired to keep a gratitude video journal on Instagram this year. Every day I post a short video of the things I am grateful for. Because 2016 is a leap year, my Instagram hashtag has been #366gratitude. There’s nothing like documenting and sharing gratitude with others to raise our collective vibration.

Visualize Yin and Yang.

The act of giving is yang; it feels active.  The act of receiving is yin; it feels passive. Neither is better than the other.  They are two equal sides of infinity and both are integral to the larger whole.

When you are receiving, imagine that you are activating your yin energy and that this is keeping all of your yang energy in balance.

Feel the inherent Divine of the giver.

When a friend or family member offers you a gift, a compliment, or their time, take a moment to feel their Soul. Perhaps the giver – even if they are a child – is a teacher for you.  This outlook can help you see their gifts in a new light, and help you receive in a new way.

When you can feel the Divine as part of your giving and receiving rituals, you will notice how different these exchanges feel.

4 Baby Steps to Receiving During the Holidays

Just remember, like anything, the more you practice receiving, the better you’ll get at it.  However, if you are really a newbie, try these baby steps during the “giving season” to help you receive joyfully:

Be present in the moment.

When you’re feeling rushed or distracted, you are much less capable of fully receiving. When someone offers you something, take a moment to notice your state of mind. Are you distracted? Do you feel resistant? Then take a deep breath and notice where it lands in your body.

Let this feeling guide you toward accepting the gift being offered if it feels right.

Accept that you are enough.

The reason many people have trouble receiving is because their inner child still believes he or she is not worthy of receiving.  It may help to know that the word “receive” comes from the Latin word “recipere,” meaning “to take back” or “to recover.”  

This means that what you receive is already yours! Also, it may help to say “I love you” to yourself often because that’s all your inner child wants anyway.

Notice what you receive every day.  

Whether you realize it or not, you actually are good at receiving.  Start by noticing what you receive every day. Perhaps there is someone who smiles at you as you pass by each other on the street, or maybe someone holds the door for you as you enter a building, or perhaps a colleague offers you a helpful piece of feedback at work. 

When you notice how often you receive in these everyday moments, you become more comfortable with the act of receiving in a larger way.  

Another way you can acknowledge that you are able to receive is to choose an item of food on you plate during a meal and practice feeling thankful for all of the people who helped bring that food to your table.  You can do this simply by saying grace and thanking all those who helped you receive your food — the farmers, truck drivers, store employees, packagers, your family members who carried the food to your table, and more.

Honor any feelings of resistance.

Sometimes you may feel resistant to receiving a gift because you feel it isn’t “meant” for you. This may be because the giver’s energy is not a match for your own.  And, sometimes gifts come with strings attached. While you practice learning how to receive, you can also practice tapping into your intuition and examining the meaning behind any feelings of resistance.

Last Updated: December 6, 2016

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


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  1. Joseph Vazquez
    2 years ago

    thank you honestly, i will try and come back to this and read it again and help me realize that i’m receiving everyday and i have to remind myself that im enough, and just be kind to myself.

  2. Marianne
    7 years ago

    Thanks so much for the enlightenment. It took me until now to have the courage to open this and read it. You are so right, I am discounting the giver when I comment to someone who compliments me. I am working on this today!
    Thanks again for all you do,

  3. Andrea
    8 years ago

    That was great advice as usual Christian, thank you as always. Can you please help me with a question I struggle with? What do you do when a third party at work gives you a gift that you both know it is a form of a bribe in order to influence you favourably for their part?
    In the past I have been donating those gifts or sharing them out to others. Recently I refused to receive them and really felt upset about it.

  4. Yael
    8 years ago

    Thank you for reminding me that giving and receiving are the same. They are yin and yang, neither is better than the other. I tend to focus either on giving or on receiving, but not on both as being one. I lack the balance that you offer in your so wise words. I thank you Christiane for being an oasis of joy and health and balance in my world. Love.

  5. Maria
    8 years ago

    Thank you for this wonderful and wise knowledge.

  6. Susan Blanda
    8 years ago

    ❤️❤️ Beautiful ! ❤️❤️

  7. Retha
    8 years ago

    Thank you so much for this wise words. I really needed to hear this. I normally don’t have a problem receiving, however, a light bulb just went off as I was reading. I landed into the trap of not being a good receiver lately,, Thank you again, you opened my eyes.

    Lots of love,


  8. Pepi Diaz-Salazar
    8 years ago


  9. Oriah
    8 years ago

    Dear Christiane- I love the reminder to receive with joy and the guidance you offer on how to do this. Thank you. However, I do want to point out that your assumption here in this blog and in the e-newsletter that we all remember, “when you were a child and you freely received gifts with joy” is not universally so. I lived in a household where receiving anything- but particularly gifts- was very tricky as those gifts could and often were taken away in an ongoing atmosphere of threat and abuse. Some other people simply did not get gifts on the occasions you mention. I raise this here because, for many, the holiday season is fraught with difficult memories. I accept my past as past, and thankfully have a different relationship with giving to and receiving from my sons. And yet, I always feel a pang when someone assumes that we all came from a childhood where joyful receiving was the norm. It can reinforce the feeling we had then of our plight being invisible. May your holiday season be blessed, Oriah

  10. Margaret
    8 years ago

    Excellent topic. I think a blog entry on giving could also be helpful for those of us who carry wounds of not being received and therefore question if our gifts, our very selves, have something of importance to give.

  11. Paul Luftenegger
    8 years ago

    What a GREAT message Chris! Learning to Balance “Giving+Receiving” healthfully is SUCH a needed discussion in our world today! Learning to understand oneself this way is SO powerful in our Journey around the Stars! Om Shanti

  12. Xavier
    8 years ago

    Thank you for this wonderful knowledge

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