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Shared Teachings: Opening to receive


Why do you turn away when you’re given a compliment? Why is it difficult to accept kind words about yourself?

There is probably a hidden smile within, but outwardly, you deflect, excuse, or simply ignore the good stuff coming your way. You are not alone in this disaffection. We all have been indoctrinated to disavow our own value.

As a child, I was reprimanded and deemed conceited. My neighbor’s mother judged me for my youthful curiosity and amusement of my reflection in a window. Why was it wrong of me to appreciate what I saw?

This is how it’s done, how we diminish the self-worth of each other – especially girls.

Today, I delight in seeing the surprised smiles of appreciation, cast upon the faces of middle-aged women, as they gratefully accept unforeseen compliments from a stranger.

I give these compliments because I know both sides. It genuinely gives me joy to bring a little unexpected light into someone’s day. I know the doubting darkness as well.

We also stumble in asking for help. Is it pride, reluctance to impose, or the fear of appearing weak? These impervious facades are frustrating when one offers to assist. Again, I recognize both sides. I was reared with the “grin and bear it” mindset. I offer, and I resist.

These mechanisms of separation are also patterns of diminished self-worth. What escapes our comprehension is that it is an act of self-love to accept support and good will.

In allowing others to give, we fully accept and love ourselves as we are. Caring for ourselves, and our needs enough to embrace the love and kindness of others is a gift we give ourselves.

Accepting supportive words and actions, validates our own self-worth, and that of those who offer, as it encourages them to do the same. This reciprocal exchange builds stronger fibers in our communal web. We do need each other.

Actually, it is quite simple, but we crazy humans have turned the whole idea around. We were taught as children to keep ourselves small, by devaluing our gifts and demurring from the open, honest appreciation and support given to us, (again, especially girls).

In reconnecting the dots of our humanity, accepting the kindness of others, grows us. Our sense of self-worth deepens as we allow the acknowledgment or assist. Simply, taking a breath and saying “thank you” grows love and community. Opening to receive is an act of self-love.

Patricia Walsh-Collins is a 40-year resident of Bucks County, with a 25-year career as a professional educator. She is creator and owner of Art of Spirit, and Art of Spirit’s Earth School.