Photo credits to Enjuley Evers
A few months ago, a friend said something to me that really stuck:
“You know, sometimes you’re not very good at letting yourself be loved.”
I forget the situation that warranted this comment, but the words have continuously resurfaced in my mind since the moment she said them. My first instinct was to argue – but I stopped. How could I be bad at letting myself be loved??
I think I understand it better now.
Love is a conversation, and when a conversation is one sided, it sucks. Loving and having your love rejected is similar (worse!) to speaking and being ignored. In letting yourself be loved, you are actually loving the person who is trying to love you.
So what does that look like concretely?
In short, it looks like honesty and gratitude.
When someone offers to buy you a coffee, say yes and thank you. You can return the favour next time.
When someone invites you over, do your best to make it, and of course, thank them! Go ahead and ask if you need to bring anything but don’t belabor the subject if they say no.
When someone compliments you, say thank you. That’s all. You don’t have to justify it, or compare yourself to anyone else to discredit their compliment. Just let it stand.
When someone does a favour for you, say thank you! Tell them how much you appreciate it, but don’t start going off on how you feel so bad and feel like such a burden. You are not a burden to this person, they’ve proven that already by taking time to do things for you. They love you!
It comes back, a lot of the time, to pride vs. humility. True humility is, in short, honesty about our humanness, as broken and beautiful as that may look. This includes accepting compliments, accepting the fact that you appreciate having things done for you, and rejecting any unrequited feelings of guilt that accompany these situations. The guilt is often a signal of pride – pride as self-defense. Having someone reach out and try to love you puts you in a vulnerable place! It emphasizes the fact that you're a human with needs, and it could appear to put you in debt to somebody, which can feel very uncomfy. It’s tempting to discredit the compliment or act of love as quickly as possible by giving into that prideful guilt and questioning your own worth. Yet, becoming self-deprecating and deflecting love separates you from the truth of who you are.
This inverted pride, on the surface, levels the playing field- you dodged that love, now the focus is off of you once again. But in reality, it creates a barrier between you and the world and ironically keeps the focus squarely on you. As Rick Warren said, "True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less." By not letting yourself be loved, by thinking less of yourself, you are inherently focusing on yourself. True humility accepts the love and realizes that in doing so you are receiving love but also returning love to the person who is loving you.
So if someone is reaching out to you, give them (and yourself!) the benefit of the doubt. They want to love you and you deserve the love they are trying to give.