Learning the Gift of Gratitude
Have you ever thought that you are the best friend you know? Are you the most responsible, caring, compassionate, shoulder-to-cry-on kind of friend who drops everything to be there for the people you love? Have you ever wished for a friend like yourself?
I used to think that. Although I so adored the people in my life, there were times when I felt some of the things I did for them went under-appreciated. When I had problems in my own life, when I needed someone to make me feel better, I felt empty handed. Sound relatable?
I was a doer, a giver, I needed to be needed. I set my life up so that I was the go-to person for all of my people. I was the Olivia Pope of my world. Even when I moved to a different state, within months I was the one person anyone who knew me could count on. I constructed a safety net for everyone else, but when my own life turned upside down in the form of chronic illness, I felt there was no one to lean on.
Even after illness set in, things did not change. In fact, I felt that no one had a grasp of anything I was going through. For the first time in my life, I was desperate for some care from others and it seemed that no one knew what to say or do for me. Looking back now, some people were generous, and a few did reach out to me. I think it’s because I never learned how to ask for help before, I couldn’t recognize a gift of compassion and I was too prideful at the time to see when people were trying to be there for me.
I was so programmed to say, “No thanks” and “I’m fine” when people tried to help me out. I think I probably pushed them away without meaning to. I didn’t fully learn the gift of receiving until later on.
Sometimes tragedy is like this. The harder things get, the more clarity we can find.
You get so accustomed to being self-reliant and needed by others for so long that when it is time to accept help from another person, it’s like a foreign object that you naturally repel.
People who cared about me wanted to be there for me, but I usually shut them down. There were those who never knew what exactly to do or say, but they tried to just be in my life. I know now that the people who stick around in uncomfortable times are keepers.
Letting loved ones know how exactly they can help makes the people around us feel less powerless. If you give your loved ones specifics, they can learn how to better help with your complex needs. Hints and mind-reading definitely doesn’t count.
I know from personal experience that receiving help and asking for what you need can be a humbling experience. It’s lovely to help others but it can be humiliating when you’re the one who needs the help. That is the first thing I had to try to accept. You will have anger about it…try not to take it out on those giving to you. Don’t say things like, “I’m sorry you have to do this for me,” or “you will get tired of helping me,” or “I can tell you don’t want to be doing that for me.” Don’t critique their attitude, or predict future resentments. Instead, lead with gratitude. Say “thank you.” Your appreciation makes others feel positive.
Gratitude isn’t only an emotion, it’s also a state of mind, and a form of personal expression. The great thing is you can choose to be grateful even at times you don’t necessarily feel that way.
You already know how good it feels to do for others. Learn to be a gracious receiver.
Remember, you are worthy enough to accept the very thing you do all the time for other people. If the situation were reversed, would you be there for your loved one in the same way?
It has taken me a while to learn that lesson. I am still learning… Those who give of themselves are always teaching me to be humble.
I had to consider why my life had always revolved around being helpful, yet I could not receive the help offered to me. To top it off, I was too prideful to ask for help.
When I was finally able to say “thank you” and mean it from the bottom of my heart without resentment, anger, shame or fear: gratitude swept over me and lit up everyone in my life like Christmas lights.
Before, giving and being needed was how I defined myself. Learning to receive showed me the love everyone around me had to offer.
This lesson has been such a challenge; I am still learning to receive and to appreciate the blessings in my life, but the gift of gratitude has been a life-changing lesson. I believe learning to receive with a grateful heart makes a person a more understanding, more compassionate giver.
People love you and are there for you, too. Maybe not in the way you want them to be, but they might be exactly what you need. You are worthy of their love and their help. Please don’t miss out on receiving the blessings that God is trying to bring into your life.
Posted on November 25, 2014, in Caretaker, Chronic Illness, Friendship, Gratitude, Inspiration and tagged adapting, arthritis, Ask for help, being grateful, better to receive, cancer, caretaker, CFS, Chiari, Chronic Illness, Chronic pain, crps, fibromyalgia, giving and receiving, Gratitude, How to ask for help, illness, Learn to be sick, life lessons, Lupus, Lyme, Mental Health, migraine, MS, Nanopablano, receiving, rsd, Spoonie, Spooniethankful, thanksgiving, transform. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
I really need to hear this with the holidays coming up. A great many of people are doing a lot of things for me so that I don’t hurt myself before or during the holidays, and it is quite humbling. But I need to get over myself and just thank them!
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I’m glad this came at a good time for you. I know for certain by reading your blog that you have spent your life caring for others and this is an opportunity your loved ones are likely happy to help you with. Being on the receiving end certainly isn’t as fun as giving, is it? Enjoy your holidays and the blessings around you ❤
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I read this post like your were speaking directly to me, that’s how much it resonated, especially today after everything I’m going through with my boyfriend. Thank you for writing this. Even being able to receive a message from someone else counts here, and I received your very lovely message loud and clear, and couldn’t be more appreciative of your timely words. ❤
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There’s not a better compliment for a writer than knowing her message resonated with another soul. Thank you so much for sharing that with me ♡
It’s one of the hardest things… You aren’t alone.
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What an excellent post, as you share your experiences… Sometimes the Universe has to teach us these lessons the hard way before we allow them into our lives which in turn helps heal our lives..
A great friend of mine who has now been in the spirit world some years taught me this valuable lesson early on in our friendship..
I was one who was always in ‘Charge’ complete in dishing out orders and taking control of situations and like you would give and give never learning to say no.. And often would refuse help.. 🙂 of a practical kind..
We both of us were artists.. She one day bought me a very small eraser back from her art trip.. It was only Pence in terms of monetary value.. But I had a draw full of erasers back home…
She gave me the eraser, and I smiled said thank you but no thank you as I had plenty at home..
It was then she told me never to erase of the giver of the Giver.. For it gave the giver as much pleasure to Give and the receiver to receive…
So this lesson of Gratitude I have never forgotten.. ( Thank you Pat) 🙂 Never will your memory be erased either.. 😀
Blessings in return for you gift within these words..