If life were a college curriculum, you would probably earn an A+ in the course called “Giving to Others.” You willingly and generously share your love, time, and energy with family, friends, colleagues, and others. It’s a wonderful thing to do, and surely they are all very grateful.
For many, the last six weeks of the year are hectic, a mix of joy, pressure, delights, deadlines and wondering where the year has gone. It is not generally a time during which you focus on receiving – gratefully and graciously accepting the help, praise, advice, compliments and all of the various expressions of people’s gratitude, love and affection for YOU. In fact, receiving takes practice.
Last week I was talking with a dear friend (let’s call her Anna) and had the opportunity to tell her that she had done a terrific job handling a big challenge she had been facing over the past few months. Anna knows me well, and she knew that my comments were genuine. Still, her first reaction was to downplay her accomplishment – “It really isn’t a big deal.” When I listed all the reasons why what she had done WAS a big deal, Anna had a counterpoint for each one.
“Do you see what you are doing?” I asked. “Why are you finding it so difficult to accept this well-earned praise?” For a moment Anna looked confused, as if she didn’t understand the question. Then she laughed and said, “I don’t know.” I waited. She did know. After a few minutes of shared silence, I asked, “Is it possible that you don’t feel that you deserve the praise? Or maybe you think you could have done an even better job handling this? Or, and I ask this with the most loving intention, you are simply unwilling to acknowledge how amazing you are?”
Without hesitation, Anna replied, “All of the above.”
Would your answer have been different from Anna’s? Are you willing to acknowledge how amazing you are? My hope for each of you in this season of giving thanks, is that when people reach out to let you know how much you mean to them, to praise you for one of your many qualities and talents, you pause, smile and gratefully receive. Commit to silencing (or ignoring) your inner critic, to spontaneously thanking those who offer their expressions of gratitude, love and affection, and to drinking it all in. YOU DESERVE IT!