I’ve noticed that many people have a very hard time saying thank you and meaning it. Just accepting any of the good stuff that comes their way — taking it in, believing it and letting it feel good – seems to be a big challenge. What I see instead is that people say ‘thank you’ and then editorialize it or apologize it out of existence.
“Thank you, but I should have done it two weeks ago.”
“Thank you, but it could have been more complete.”
“Thank you, but it wasn’t really what you wanted and I hope you don’t mind.”
Sometimes people totally negate the value of it. “Oh well, I just whipped it off.” when they had really spent about a week on it. There is a real danger when you do that because when you make it look like you just created something easily, others will assume that this is the truth and before long, you are going to have to create a lot more things. If it hasn’t been all that easy for you to do, it’s much better to acknowledge that fact.
I think one of the reasons that it is hard for people to say ‘Thank You” is because few of us have been trained to focus on our accomplishments. Paying attention to all that we have accomplished gets socialized out of us pretty early in life. You are not supposed to be arrogant. You can’t have a swelled head. You shouldn’t brag about yourself. You can’t really do all of that stuff.
A mentor of mine provided me with a wonderful metaphor to see what is going on in the minds of most of us when this happens: imagine that everyone has two gigantic shower stalls in their head!
In one shower stall there is a clogged drain. It is totally stopped up and nothing can get through. In the other shower stall is a very free running drain. Into the clogged drain shower goes every negative difficult, stupid, critical, jerky thing that has ever been said about you or that you have ever done. It sits there collecting and accumulating like muddy cruddy water so if somebody says “Well – you don’t seem to be very well organized,” you can say “Right! I’ve been told that at 23, and 40, and 55. I know that about myself and I’ve heard it many times before.”
Into the shower where the water runs fast and free goes every positive, wonderful, great, terrific accomplishment and every nice thing that has ever been said about you or that you have done.
When somebody says “That that was the most wonderful blog that I ever have seen, you don’t say “I know! I’ve been told that at 23, and 40, and 55. I know that about myself and I’ve heard it many times before. I am still doing it and I am getting better.”
There is not the same kind of accumulation of things in both of our ‘mental’ shower stalls.
I think that all of us have an equal potential for excellence and jerkiness and perhaps we should simply accept that this is true. How much jerkiness or excellence might depend on the situation, the stimulus, and how we are feeling at the time. Those variables make all the difference as to which shower we end up in.
You and I have an equal potential for being wonderful and a jerk and that’s true for most of the folks I know. Most of the jerks don’t intend to be jerky – it just seems to happen. It’s good to accept and maybe even embrace all of the different parts of yourself.