Why You May Find it Difficult to Receive Attention, Compliments or Gifts

It can feel safer to give then receive

Janice Tovey
2 min readNov 6


Photo by Jornada Produtora on Unsplash

We have all been told that it feels better to give then receive. For many it is. An unselfish act that makes others feel good. Us too.

There may be more.

As it turns out, psychologically speaking, giving can be less stressful than receiving. Receiving for some causes distress.

Here is why:

  1. We don’t feel worthy of the attention or gift. Deep inside we experience feelings of being unlovable, not deserving, and flawed. We may have issues with trust and are suspicious of someone’s intentions. It may be difficult to really believe that another person genuinely cares about us without us having to make an equal exchange. We all know that feeling. Someone has given an unexpected or a bigger gift and we feel off balance.
  2. Shame from childhood, feeling unloved or weak because of needs not met or being made to feel selfish or unlovable contribute to the unease. As an adult we learn we have to be self-sufficient and not depend on anyone else to avoid appearing needy.
  3. We may fear we are being a burden to another person if we take and do not reciprocate. We may be indebted to the other individual and feel anxious. We have to even the score.
  4. Receiving places us in a vulnerable position. Being in the position of receiving means that we have to trust and allow another person to have a certain amount of power over us. Past experiences may have made us feel unsafe in similar circumstances. We don’t want to risk being controlled or judged.
  5. We want to maintain an illusion of control and may be frightened of getting close to another person. We feel vulnerable when another person really sees us. When we truly receive, our hearts soften and we feel understood, seen, and loved. This can be scary.
  6. Individuals with co-dependency issues find it very difficult to receive and are much more comfortable giving or self-sacrificing.

Ask yourself if you give too much and why. Think about your beliefs around giving and receiving. Are they based on reality?

Receiving compliments, a promotion, attention, or a gift can be uncomfortable for many.

Most often the person giving cares for you, put thought into the gift, wants to see you happy and expects nothing in return.

Sometimes a simple thank you is enough.

Janice Tovey 2023



Janice Tovey

My passion is writing. I also love reading, teaching, animals, nature, music, and humor. I am curious about everything and enjoy writing about all things.