Tis the season of giving, for sure, but there can’t be any giving without someone there willing to accept the gift. This is important and yet most of us aren’t too good at receiving. We nod off the compliment, or urge people not to bring presents, or downplay the significance of our efforts when all anyone wanted to do — needed to do — was to say “Thank You.”
“In Western society, unfortunately, there is this tendency to be too hard on oneself,” says James Doty, Director of The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford, and compassion Bigwig. “It’s O.K. to receive an unexpected gift (such as receiving compassion) and why not relish the experience of it instead of questioning it.”
While it feels good to help others, it also feels good to let others help you. You are worthy of all that. You deserve to be loved and supported. I know this simply because you are here. You don’t have to earn self worth. You have to claim it.
It’s also O.K. to ask for help when you need it. I’m not so good at this one – but I’m working on it. I like to pretend that I have it all taken care of, until I am so exhausted from taking care of it all, that I have a mini-melt down and begin sniping about super important things like, er uh, how the towels are folded. Really. Not worth the energy.
We all need help. And, part of giving to others is allowing them to give to you. Accepting compassion and support does not weaken you or make you more vulnerable. Instead, it strengthens all of us.
Early on, my sweet husband Mr. J helped me think of it this way: “I want you to tell me what you need, he said. “I want to know so that I can help you, because it makes me feel good to be able to help you.”
When a friend asked me to care for her children during the hour she endured radiation as part of her cancer treatment I was so grateful. I wanted to help. Needed to help. And, I felt better because she let me.
When you accept compassion, kindness, gifts, or support from others you are ALSO giving them a gift. You are giving them the opportunity to experience profound feelings of compassion. To share their love. To connect with you in a meaningful way. By doing this, you keep the cycle of compassion and generosity alive.
We are suspicious these days, of people who offer to give us something for nothing. We question basic kindnesses. We shrug off compliments and feel undeserving or indebted when someone gives us something unexpected.
You can change that now. You can foster a global sense of kindness and compassion simply by saying “Thank You” to the next person who touches you with their generosity.
Accepting and fully receiving a gift is an essential aspect of giving and kindness. Be open and kind when you’re on the receiving end. Embrace and enjoy the experience. And know, that by doing that you have done us all a favor by raising the level of compassion that we can all experience.