There you are, standing in line at the store, head down playing with your phone searching for something to distract your attention while you wait and you hear a voice behind you say, “I love your shoes. You look really great!”
You look up, wondering if the words are meant for you, and by the piercing look on the stranger’s face, it is clear that they are.
Immediately, you search for a response to deflect the outward sign of approval. “Oh I got these on sale down the road at Lucky’s. They are comfortable though.” Your head goes back down, slightly awkward, not knowing what to do with the attention, you return to business as usual, pleased with the compliment, but not knowing what to do with it.
As you stare at your phone, you receive a text from a friend who knows you’ve been having a rough couple of weeks. “I’m going to pick up dinner and drop it off for you tonight so you can just relax. What are you in the mood for?” it reads. You are thrilled at the prospect of not having to cook and the idea of a responsibility free evening is wonderful. You know you need a break.
“Thank you for offering, but I’m all set. I have food that needs to be cooked before it goes bad,” you immediately respond. As much as you would love to be taken care of, you don’t want to put anyone out and feel like a burden.
You know that feeling you get when you give someone a gift that they adore and you can feel their genuine gratitude? Feels good, right? Or when you know someone you love is struggling and you are able to do little tasks for them to take the edge off their discomfort? Or when you listen to a friend pour their heart out and feel the relief of knowing someone cares? You feel useful and gratified that your support made their life a little easier, a little brighter, even if only for a brief moment. It’s a wonderful feeling, allowing us to feel like we’ve made a difference. The ability to help others is a reward in itself!
When you do not allow someone to do the same for you, you are taking away their ability to feel this bliss. You are letting your feelings of unworthiness reinforce their feeling of lack. In truth, it’s very poor manners. They have offered you a gift and you’ve essentially taken it out of their hands, crumpled up the bow and thrown it on the floor. Their opportunity to feel good helping someone else has been robbed. Ouch.
Is that what you meant to do? Of course not. But that’s what happens when you don’t let people support you when all they want to do is help. Being able to give to you enhances their life and their self-worth and it allows you to feel loved and worthwhile to receive. And when you allow yourself to receive, you become even more valuable to yourself and those around you. In order to effectively give, we must learn how to graciously receive. When we throw off that balance, we are left feeling depleted and longing for more.
When someone compliments you, it makes them feel good to inspire you to feel good. Keep it simple, say “Thank you.” Nothing more, nothing less. You know how it feels when you compliment someone and they give you all the reasons they don’t deserve it. You find yourself having to shove the gift at them and listing even more reasons why they just need to accept it. Don’t make them work that hard.
Accept the gift with gratitude, whatever that gift is that is being presented to you. It wouldn’t be offered to you if you didn’t deserve it. You are worthy and you are more than enough. Live and accept the gifts as though you are. Allow yourself to receive the support, so when the time comes for you to offer it, you too will feel the extraordinary feeling of giving to someone else who deserves it as well.