What is the Paradox of Giving? – By Tsgoyna Tanzman


“Is it better to breathe in or out?”

I asked my client who’d been struggling with devastating health issues after a recent break-up with her fiancé.

“Out,” she said, thinking she’d captured some metaphysical wisdom in a metaphor about giving and receiving.

It wasn’t her fault, the paradox was in the way I posed the question.

Better isn’t an option when both are required

Both inspiration and expiration are mandatory for life.  One isn’t preferred over the other.

The question was a metaphor, but the point was to illustrate the paradox of constantly giving, without allowing herself to receive.

She was hurting physically and emotionally.

She secluded herself.  At great physical cost, she allowed no one to help, until she was literally hospitalized and forced to receive.

She couldn’t even receive a compliment. She shot those down with her anti-aircraft missives.  “You’re ridiculous, I’m so exhausted, my eyeballs are bleeding.”

I see this often with strong independent people who are “givers,” but never allow someone to get close enough for them to receive.

On the surface, it appears noble. Being self-sufficient is an outstanding skill to have in one’s repertoire, but taken to the extreme, it is a defensive act, born from a place of past rejection and a belief you aren’t going to be taken care of.

Ironically those who make the attempt to care for the hurting person are held at bay and can’t establish intimacy. Or their viewpoints are invalidated for giving compliments.

And so the cycle perpetuates itself.

Inadvertently, trying to prevent rejection, the thing most feared, i.e., not being loved and cared for happens, because the person is pushing others away.

In other words, they slam into exactly what they’d hope to avoid.

Receiving, is ironically a way of giving.

It is a gift of allowance, intimacy and trust.

How we receive gives back to the other person.

Gratitude, appreciation, recognition.

These are gifts we give for receiving.

The question isn’t,  “Is it better to give than receive?

When giving and receiving are done with purity of intent, the cycle is inextricably tied together and the parts can’t be distinguished. It is one rhythmic beautiful breath.

Make Belief ~Make Believe Affirmation:  I allow myself to receive and give as easily as I breathe.

About Tsgoyna Tanzman

For more than 20 years, Tsgoyna has been coaching a broad range of people, including those who’ve suffered traumatic brain injuries and catastrophic life events as well as healthy, smart, successful people who’ve been derailed or feel stuck. She likes to say, “You don’t have to have a brain injury to damage your brain, we do that with our limiting thoughts and negative beliefs.” Tsgoyna is an expert at helping women learn to coach themselves, so they can redefine and recreate their lives from an integrated, empowered and joyful state. She teaches women the tools and strategies to separate circumstances from thoughts & feelings, while gaining insight and choice into the actions they take. She supports women in releasing emotional baggage and limiting beliefs, setting goals and taking action to achieve them. Tsgoyna knows about addiction, codependence, alcoholism and the daily process of working a program as her husband is celebrating 25 years of sobriety since the intervention she arranged. Tsgoyna is a Speech/Language Pathologist, MA/CCC, Certified Life Coach, Mental Emotional Release® Therapist, Master Practitioner of Neurolinguistic Programming and a Certified Hypnotherapist. Additionally, she achieved a Level II certification in E.F.T (Emotional Freedom Technique). She has also been guest writer with 9 published pieces at the online magazine MORE.COM as well as having 15 stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul ( in 15 different anthologies).
Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I work for an organization which help people in getting rid of their addictions Whether you’re seeking rehab for your own addiction, or you’re a referring professional, or you’re concerned for your loved one, DrugFreePhiladelphia is here to provide you with our qualified guidance on all the information, tools, and facilities to eradicate the menace of addiction from its roots.

  2. Tsgoyna –
    I just realized I gave the wrong link in my last comment!
    A recovering ‘give’a’ holic’, it took me many years to ‘GET’ what you are saying here – that it is OK to ‘GET’… Here’s the correct link to the strange things that may have prompted it:

  3. Tsgoyna!
    I LOVE your POST!
    You share so succinctly what Gabor Mate echoed in his book, “When The Body Says No”, where he relates how psychological troubles reap physical problems.
    Being a recovering ‘give’a’ holic’, it took me many years to ‘GET’ what you are saying here.
    I think YOU would enjoy my article on why I was ‘bent’ that way, here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.