Why is it, I sometimes wonder, that we struggle with not only being grateful in life, but in simply receiving a word of praise, appreciation, or blessing from another?
Over the years, parents and others have advised me not to “look a gift horse in the mouth.” Referring to the age-old practice of determining a horse’s age by the length of its teeth, what they were saying essentially was, don’t be unappreciative for the gifts you receive in life. And more especially, don’t underestimate the value of what you have received or examine its worth against your lofty expectations.
And yet, that’s exactly what many of us do. We like to analyze, examine, and tinker with everything from our brains to the plankton in the depths of the ocean. Natural curiosity is not an unhealthy or irrational behavior. But there are moments when simply being in the presence of another, or anything that evokes wonder within us, in a spirit of quiet receptivity is all that’s necessary.
And, all that’s necessary when complimented for a task well-accomplished is the humble, unassuming acceptance of praise. Yet, many of us also have a hard time with this.
I am as guilty of this embarrassed reception of praise as the next person. My invariable response to a compliment is, not so much to scrutinize its sincerity, but to qualify my response: “Thanks, I really enjoyed our game. I’ve put a lot of practice in recently, so I guess it’s finally paying off.”
A simpler and more polite response would be to simply say, “Thanks,” and allow the natural glow of gratification to wash over me. The compliment is merited and doesn’t need to be questioned or qualified in any measure.
Too busy to acknowledge our worth
Because our corporate, rapid-fire society is all about busily doing and producing, many of us simply get depleted by the energy of producing. Consequently, as exhausted producers, we have little or no time for the quiet, more graceful art of receiving; nor, I surmise, do we place much value on the place and importance of this art.
We are so programmed to believe that all merit and praise needs to be rigorously earned, that we’re simply ill-equipped to receive.
Ironically, for many, it’s an arduous chore!
Whether it’s taking a moment to humbly acknowledge our accomplishments as parents, teachers, companions, or lovers; or simply allowing the magnetic energy of a new moon to bathe us in its orbit, a sense of awe, wonder, and gratitude is truly the apropos response to life’s plentiful gifts.
Carlos Santana (legendary Latino musician) in his recently published memoir, The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light, notes how when someone pays him a compliment, his response is, “Thank you, I am a reflection of your light.”
Now, that’s a response I can easily live with!
The grace of humble, unassuming receptivity, like any grace, flows freely in our little hearts. It’s worthwhile, every now and then, to allow it to breathe freely. Unobstructed by the strictures and rigors of daily living and its multifarious demands. It’s nothing more than another mystical quality of the ebb and flow of God’s abundant life energy all around us.
Like the art of giving (which we’re very good at most of the time), the art of receiving also deserves it’s little moment in the sun!
Season of Giving
For those whose childhood dependency needs were not adequately met by well-intentioned parents (and that would be all of us), there can be much guilt and unease associated with receiving. We may feel undeserving of the love, kindness, affection, praise and presents others may wish to give us. Or, perhaps, we suspect that there’s an alternate manipulative agenda at play.
Because our four key emotional dependency needs, namely Emotional Intimacy, Self-Nurturing, Unconditional Love & Acceptance, and Mature Boundary Protection were not adequately met by our ill-equipped parents, we’re left prone to developing many behavioral issues later in life. Such dysfunctional behavioral patterns, or negative core beliefs inherited from our parents, can seriosuly stymie our personal and spiritual growth. Thereby hindering new growth and possibilities in life, work, and relationships.
Perhaps this holiday season, you may consider gifting yourself or a dear friend with deeply healing and life-transformative sessions with a certified spiritual life coach! If so, why wait!