You Have to Accept Love So You Can Feel Loved
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Last week in our blog, we wrote “Learning to accept love is one of the great skills of life.” This line came from the way Phil used to handle compliments some years ago. He would deflect compliments about, say, a salad with a disclaimer like “Oh, but it had too much onion.”
There are a number of things to point out here. Firstly, love is being used in the broadest possible sense. A deflection about the balance of onion can come from feeling unable to make a salad that meets the standards that other people demand. Even when being praised for the salad, Phil did not feel worthy of that praise and love.
This changed when Phil recognized the absurdity of this behavior, and instead started responding to compliments with “Thank you.”
This little story about salad is meant to illustrate a point about interpersonal love. We all want to be loved, but for that to come to pass, we must be able to accept it when it arrives. That means that we must feel worthy of love, and we must love ourselves, not in the narcissistic sense of thinking we are perfect, but in the sense of accepting ourselves, flaws, imperfections, mistakes and all.
When first together, Maude would often tell Phil what she admired in him and the aspects of his personality and behavior that she loved. He couldn’t take it in and accept it, at first. He usually replied “No one else has ever said that about me. In fact, they usually tell me the opposite.” This was another example similar to the compliments on his salad. He wasn’t initially able to recognize it for what it was, but he used it to look at himself, learn, and actually change his view of himself.
We all want to be loved; for that to happen, we must be able to accept it when it arrives #quote Click To TweetAccepting love is often about learning new things and new ways. It can be that you have never or seldom received it, or that it is being offered in a different way than you have previously experienced. It may cause you to think that if you accept love that is offered, that you will be beholden and have to give something in kind. Whatever the mechanisms that may keep you from accepting love, it is important to understand that you cannot truly give love, until you come to terms with accepting it.
That’s all about receiving love. But what about giving love? And most importantly, what about the balance of giving and receiving it? Some people are so needy that they can never be filled; whatever is offered is rejected or distorted or leaks away, and is never enough. Yet there is no shortage. Love is not a zero-sum game; the more you give, the more you have to give. Some people are Love Radio Incarnate, broadcasting 24/7 at 50,000 watts. Being loving is a wonderful trait, but it can also overwhelm its intended recipients.
The most important element in giving and receiving love within your relationship is that although the methods of delivery will vary, there has to be a balance between the partners for the relationship to be successful, joyous and peaceful. As with all things, finding balance is the secret, so find yours. Learn to give as well as receive, and celebrate a love that knows no bounds; one founded in love and carried by mutual support and respect. Each of us is unique and different and we are also all the same. Each one of us is a walking original in the way we give and receive love. Spread love one relationship at a time!
That was fun reading about Phil having trouble with compliments. My sweetie was the same way! But now he just says “It’s true” when I compliment him. I praised him for making progress with receiving compliments and he confessed he just does it to make me stop whereas before when he would try to deflect the compliment I would argue back with more complimentary language. Anyway it’s absolutely adorable the way he says “it’s true” as though he hates to admit it but what can he say.
I’ve just run across this Slate article on compliments saying “In the United States, the compliment is a coded invitation to chitchat, and simply saying, ‘Thank you’ linguistically slams the door in the complimenter’s face.”
That’s an interesting take on it!