Understanding the "Shame of Accepting Gratitude"
The Power of a Giving Mindset
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can help us build meaningful relationships and foster a sense of belonging. Yet, many of us feel ashamed instead of grateful when we receive gratitude. This curious phenomenon needs to be addressed.
We often struggle to accept that someone may appreciate us and our efforts, leaving us embarrassed or unworthy.
Why is that?
Exploring the Reasons Behind Feeling Ashamed when Receiving Gratitude
It all comes down to the concept of humility.
In many cultures, humility is seen as a sign of respect for others and a sign that you recognize your limitations. This can lead to feelings of shame when receiving gratitude. It may be interpreted as showing off or being boastful about one’s accomplishments.
Some people may struggle to accept praise from those in higher positions than them. Feeling inadequate and undeserving of such recognition. They need more confidence to show appreciation toward someone they admire.
Also, there is often a sense of distrust associated with accepting compliments or gifts another person gives. We think the person must have an ulterior motive — wanting something in return. This can leave us feeling embarrassed when we are thanked or praised.
Recognize these feelings of shame and understand why they arise so that we can learn to appreciate the gratitude of others without feeling ashamed.
Giving and receiving compliments is essential. Practicing humility in our daily lives is vital. Humility does not mean undervaluing ourselves but recognizing our strengths and limitations.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” — William Arthur Ward
Overcoming the Shame
When receiving compliments, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to be perfect to receive gratitude. You can accept the words and respond with a simple “thank you” without needing to downplay or discredit your accomplishments.
It’s also essential to be aware of our worth and recognize all the effort we have put into achieving something.
If someone is trying to show appreciation for us, do not overthink it. Feelings of shame may arise if we focus too much on why they praise us instead of enjoying and accepting the moment.
In my native country, responding, “it was nothing,” is customary when we are thanked for our help. We also use the phrase “de que? de nada,” which translates to “for what? it was nothing.” This phrase illustrates how we are taught to minimize gratitude and make it as if it were unimportant.
Understanding why we may feel ashamed when receiving gratitude can teach us to accept compliments and appreciation. We can start by taking praise with a simple thank you. Instead of minimizing it, we can say, “my pleasure” or “I’m glad you liked it.” Letting the other person know their appreciation was noticed and appreciated.
Gratitude is a positive emotion. An emotion that helps us build meaningful relationships, foster a sense of belonging, and create a more united community. Gratitude should be celebrated, not hidden away in shame.
Embrace a Positive Attitude Towards Receiving Compliments
We often feel embarrassed when receiving compliments because our upbringing and cultural norms make us think we don’t deserve them.
Challenging these norms by recognizing that they still hold immense value, whether a big compliment or a small one, is essential.
Instead of shying away from gratitude and feeling ashamed for being noticed, we should strive to embrace it.
We can start by acknowledging and accepting compliments. Letting someone know you heard their words and appreciate their kind gesture will help in the long run.
The Benefits of Embracing Gratefulness
Once you recognize the importance of gratitude and start practicing it more often, it can impact your well-being. Embracing gratefulness in our daily lives helps shift our perspective and focus on the good instead of dwelling on negative thoughts or emotions.
It also helps us cultivate deeper connections with our family, friends, and colleagues by strengthening existing relationships and creating new ones.
Gratitude is reciprocal, and we can become better at being thankful for everything in our lives — big or small — bringing us closer together.
Gratitude creates a sense of joy and contentment and encourages us to take action toward achieving our goals. It motivates us to achieve more while helping us stay focused and determined to succeed.
Embracing gratitude helps us create more meaningful lives by recognizing the people and experiences we are thankful for.
So, the next time someone expresses appreciation for you, don’t be embarrassed — take it in stride and say your heartfelt thank you back! You can embrace gratitude and make it a regular daily routine with practice.
“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” — Rasheed Ogunlaru
By taking the time to understand why we may feel embarrassed when receiving compliments, we can learn to accept gratitude and develop meaningful relationships with others—remembering that our worth depends not on what others think of us but on understanding our strengths, limitations, and capabilities.
Gratitude isn’t just about receiving — it is also about giving! A ‘giving mindset’ means actively looking for opportunities to express appreciation and thanks for the people in our lives, whether through words or deeds.
Let’s all take the time to recognize this and learn to embrace compliments.
After all, a kind word or gesture never goes unappreciated!