We’re Really Bad At Receiving Love

“Thank you.”

The only correct response to receiving a compliment is gratitude. There’s no need to counter kind words with a “ugh, I feel gross” or some unnecessary explanation that reverses the intention. Dodging a compliment isn’t a show of humility either.

It’s difficult. I know. We’ve been conditioned to think that we don’t deserve kindness, let alone love. We’ve been made to believe that if we don’t have a certain look, a specific car and address, we aren’t worthy. If we can’t receive a simple compliment, then how on earth will we receive meaningful love?

“Thank you” is the gateway drug to love.

The problem with dodging kindness is that you train people to stop showing that love. If every time someone gives you compassion or attention, you shirk away in shame or discomfort, they’ll get the message you don’t want those things in your life.

We all want love. We all would prefer kindness from strangers. In spite of what people tell you, we all want a little attention for good work. We all want to know we’re beautiful (even we we don’t feel it ourselves). We all want to feel loved in some way.

We need to let it in. There is nothing else to do. Accept the love that you desire by starting to see love in all its forms.

The trick is switching from fantasy to observation. In our fantasies, we imagine love looking a certain way. Maybe love looks like your favorite romantic movie. Maybe you’re trying to recreate a lost love. Switching from those fabricated desires to observing how love finds us changes everything.

Epicurus said, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

How do we open ourselves to these observations? Start receiving little kindnesses. Accept an offer of help from a friend. Acknowledge a thoughtful gesture from a stranger. Tell someone they are beautiful. Write a thank you letter to a relative for dropping off food. Each time you open the door to kindness you let love in too.

We’re almost always wondering where love will come from but when it arrives we don’t know how to receive it. Love is right in front of you. It might not be showing up with flowers and a box of chocolates but it’s right there. Hiding behind that small kindness, that compliment. Just waiting to be asked in.

Hug your people. Life is short ❤




Dad, artist, cyclist, entrepreneur, advisor, product and design leader. Mostly in that order.

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Richard Banfield

Richard Banfield

Dad, artist, cyclist, entrepreneur, advisor, product and design leader. Mostly in that order.

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