One of our Practitioners tells a story about a group of Americans who visited Africa. One of the American women wore a colorful blouse to a shared event. At the event, an African woman complimented the American woman’s good taste.
The American started a litany of reasons as to why the blouse (and her taste) weren’t up to par. “It’s old, it’s not the right color for me, I got it at thrift store …”
Like many of us, the recipient of this compliment wanted to list every reason why she didn’t really deserve it.
The giver of the compliment interrupted her and said, “In our culture, when we are given a compliment, we reply by saying, “Thank you, it’s true”….
It may be challenging to receive praise for a blouse, but it’s even more challenging to receive praise for what we do. Then things get really ugly (and beautiful) when we are asked to receive praise for who we are.
We are so accustomed to focusing on our flaws that we tend to negate our goodness. Praise makes us squirm like earthworms exposed to the light. We feel strangely threatened by too much praise.
Maybe we fear the attention or the possible exposure. Maybe we feel we’ll need to work hard to maintain our praise-worthiness. Maybe we’re afraid of appearing conceited. Mostly, I think we believe we don’t deserve praise.
The poet William Blake wrote…”we are put on earth…that we may learn to bear the beams of love….”
Cultivating the ability to receive praise is part of bearing beams of love. It is our soul’s sacred work here on earth.
How do you feel about receiving praise? Do you engage in any praise-rejecting behaviors or thoughts?