Gratitude. Honestly, I have no idea why I've always felt weird about it. I understand why I feel weird and uncomfortable when someone thanks me, compliments me or takes the time to directly tell me why my action had an impact on them. I feel weird because of depression, low self-worth, a bit of paranoia, and confusion.
I will explain the paranoia and confusion because I don't know if that connects with as many people. Paranoid because the first thing I think is: "Why, what do they want from me?" I don't know if it's because of society, culture, related to gender, mental illness, or a little bit of each depending on the situation. But I'm always skeptical when I hear a nice thing about me. Is this buttering me up? Are they trying to make me feel comfortable and then I'm going to end up screwed some how? I'm cautious. But when you live in a world where there are careers based on duping people, it's hard for me not to feel like that in personal situations. I mean, someone comes and tells me, "you can pay 2$ now and get a $100 water dispenser with cold and hot water, if you sign up today."
That actually happened. I signed up because, why not, my card wasn't billed right away and I have an account to change billing and could cancel it if I wanted. Of course I immediately went to find out "What's the catch?" because there had to be one. I found out that the $2 was because I was not purchasing the water dispenser, it was a rental. It was misleading. Not a lie. I canceled it and it was all fine. That is my caution with my money. Caution with my feelings? Yeah. I have defenses built up.
Explaining confusion... what that is typically a specific situation. Sometimes it is because I didn't realize I did something that someone was grateful for. Usually it's something I don't even think about like holding the door open for someone, or... well I don't know what else because I usually forget about it after the interaction. Sometimes it is something that I honestly don't understand why it isn't a habit everyone has, and I suddenly am aware that this is something that isn't normal, at least not to this person right now. I then fall into a brain space that is trying to pinpoint why I do it, and why someone else might not, and why was it something that warranted a response.
My brain doesn't stop, hah. I over think things, but I love it. Anyway, I have an uncomfortable response to gratitude, compliments, general nice things directed at me. I think that is why I feel uncomfortable communicating it. But I also wonder if it's more than that.
I've been trying to make sure that I am cognizant of when I have a thought about how someone has a positive impact on me and if I communicated that to them, someone else, or stayed silent. I started to notice that I will talk about it, but I wouldn't tell the person who did the thing. I would tell someone else, later, about how amazing this person was and how I appreciated their actions. When I started paying attention and noticed how often I did this... I didn't understand WHY. Why wouldn't I tell that person these things? I obviously had something to say about it, it had a lasting impact that I wanted to tell someone else. So why wouldn't I make sure the person involved KNEW as well?
So I observed more. What felt different for me? What did I feel when I thought about "oh I should tell this person how much I appreciated that?" I started noticing that I felt embarrassed. I still don't understand why I would be embarrassed. I'm expressing something positive to someone. Why would I feel ashamed to tell them? Really. I'm asking because I have no idea. Logically it doesn't make sense in anyway I think about it. Is it because I'm thinking about how I would feel if I were them? No, I don't think that is it because... It feels more like I'm embarrassed because I'm admitting there was a positive impact. Which means I am bringing attention to something that makes me vulnerable.
Huh. Okay. So I haven't sat down to try and write this all out before. So congrats, you are in my brain with me right now. Or should I apologize that you're in my brain with me, hah.
So. That definitely feels like a reason... If I express how something made me feel great in some way, I have to acknowledge that at some point (or all the time) there was (or is) something that made me feel bad in some way, or made me feel nothing... but typically there is a specific situation I'm considering. Therefore... showing gratitude is also like showing someone a weakness, struggle or admitting I lack something. Weird.
I guess that makes sense now. And explains why I'd feel embarrassed to say something. Good news though. I have been sitting with my feelings on this for a few years. I started with observing myself inwardly and slowly started to communicate gratitude more frequently. I started to reflect on things I experience daily. I consider the interactions and take note when I remember a person positively. I left that interaction with something I didn't have before, small or big, I remember them for a reason. What is that reason?
I felt strange at first. But it is beginning to feel a little more natural to express my thanks and appreciation for people. It seems to be easier with people I don't know well. I have to think that is because that person doesn't have past experience with me. They don't have baggage, expectations or know that this isn't something I typically do. There's more freedom to not feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. With people I know, who have known me, there are plenty emotions thrown in there that I'm still working through.
I have to overcome self-doubt and I'm always hesitant before I speak up. But the more I do it... I realize it is an important thing for me and the other person. Focusing on something good, telling someone they helped you, acknowledging that person... all of that is more important than I think most of us realize.
There are times people have a very similar, awkward, unsure, confused, response. The response I understand completely. I make sure they know that I also have a similar reaction; so I understand that feeling in my own way. I always follow up with: I really just wanted to make sure you knew that you left an impact in that moment. Because even if you feel weird and uncomfortable with it... it's always nice to know that your existence left something positive, even if you didn't intend for it, know about it, or realize that was an interaction worth remembering for someone.
We all see ourselves differently than others see us. I've noticed that when someone expresses gratitude I can briefly see their perspective of me. Having awareness of how someone else sees me has been life changing. I can't see myself like that, because depression taints how I see my positive bits. But it makes me feel happy for a second knowing that I added something positive to the world. I also end up getting a different understanding about someone else's experiences and things that they are thankful for.