Everybody likes a compliment.Abraham Lincoln
So many of us were raised with the concept or belief system that it is it better to give than to receive. Whether or not we even want to give, whether or not we even have the time to give, we were taught that we should give. Although there is no doubt that giving may sometimes feel wonderful and come from an authentic, heart-centered space, giving simply because we believe that we must is not self-caring.
And most importantly, we were usually not taught the opposite side of the coin: that receiving from others, whether that be a compliment, a gift, or support, is as equally (and sometimes more) important, self-esteem boosting and life-affirming.
What does receiving truly mean?
Receiving a gift, compliment or support in the form of a listening ear or help with something (like yard work when you’ve pulled your back or meals when you or a family member has been struck with an illness) can be tough. All of these are ways in which others show their love and concern for you, yet many of us have a hard time receiving and especially asking for this type of help and concern.
True receiving means:
- Being able to accept things from others with joy and grace, without the use of a negative or deflating response.
- So often when someone says something like “you look beautiful today”, we might respond with, “That’s because I’m not so tired today”. Or ...
- When someone may give us a gift and we’ll say something like “You really didn’t have to…” , essentially negating the effort and care that someone gave in selecting and purchasing the gift.
- To be able to say and truly mean “thank you” when someone gives us a compliment or a gift, and to be able to breathe in and fully take in the tangible or non-tangible gift, is really what receiving is about.
But isn’t it selfish to receive?
Many of us were raised believing that it’s selfish to bask in the deliciousness of just receiving. We might have heard that we should take a compliment, gift, or support from a friend with grace, but we may still feel that it’s selfish. However:
- Receiving not only feels incredible for you, but also for the other person.
- The sender of a gift of help or aid knows in their heart that you are truly grateful and appreciative (which makes them feel good) and they’ll want to continue to care for you in a similar way in the future. We’re allowing someone to do for us as we do for them, and that makes others feel good about themselves.
- When we give to others, we are delighted when the receiver is appreciative and joyful of the compliment, gift, or help that we’ve offered and we would want to be able to give the same to our friends and loved ones.
- It’s also important to work towards being able to accept what is offered because it may really give such joy to us if we really allow it. We can start by simply saying “thank you” when someone gives to us, and meaning it.
For more tips on receiving, as well as to the reasons why it may be so hard for so many of us, please read my full article.
My wish for you today is that you allow yourself to accept at least one compliment with a sincere “thank you”!
Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD, Director, Nassau Guidance and Counseling.