Accepting Thanks

Harder than giving thanks, in my experience.

Part of the holiday season is saying thank you to those around you, and if you are religious then usually also in giving thanks in a more spiritual sense. We generally thank everyone who gives us a present, or a card, or even just good wishes for the Holidays. When I was a child I was even encouraged (read: not allowed to play with my presents until I had done so) to send personalized thank-you notes to all the gift-givers near and far. At this time of year saying thank you is easy, and practically automatic. It’s nearly a routine, just this side of losing all meaning beyond the social convention. However, that’s a post for another day.

For every person saying “thank you” for something, there is another person accepting the thanks of someone. (Obviously.) This is the hard one for me, especially when it is for intangibles, such as my services as a beta-reader or a kind comment, or stepping into the breach to complete a stressful task when no one else was available. I’m not sure why I have such difficulty with graceful acceptance. I am always pleased by thanks, but I usually feel slightly awkward beneath it, perhaps even a little shy. The feeling is very similar to the one I get whenever I receive a compliment, actually. Perhaps that is the explanation. It is all part of the insecurity which fuels everything from Impostor Syndrome to feelings of unattractiveness.

Insecurity is a particularly difficult malady because often the abilities and qualities we doubt are the very ones that others admire in us. Naturally this makes our concerns seem ridiculous to our listeners should we happen to voice them, and perhaps even seem a bit like we are merely fishing for compliments. Fortunately, insecurity can be overcome by a combination of positive reinforcement, will power, and a certain amount of acting ability.

So never fear. If you happen to thank me for something, I will do my best at pretending to accept it gracefully and with dignity, rather with the bizarre mixture of pleasure and discomfort that I’m actually feeling. They say if you pretend to feel something for long enough, you start to actually do so. Who knows. It could happen.

Currently Reading: Changeless by Gail Carriger



  1. December 30, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I have trouble accepting compliments. I’ve forced myself to saying thank you graciously, but it still makes me feel like the other person is making a fuss over nothing. LOL.

    Ref:They say if you pretend to feel something for long enough, you start to actually do so.

    JA Konrath is known for this one: Fake it until you make it.

    I think it’s a good practice.

    • Lia said,

      December 30, 2010 at 8:06 pm

      I don’t care much for Konrath, but yes I do think it’s a good practice for keeping your spirits up.

  2. January 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    I say the best response to a compliment is “Thank you,” and the best response to thanks is “You’re welcome.” Rather than brushing it off (which might discourage compliments and/or gratitude in the future), it acknowledges the other person and keeps things positive.

    Whoa. A mature reply from me. What’s up with that? 2011 has done something to my brainpan!

    • Lia said,

      January 1, 2011 at 11:12 pm

      I’m not sure if I can handle maturity from you, I mean…whoa.

      But seriously, yes basic “Thank you” and “You’re Welcome” are always good, but there’s such a variety of ways to say them ranging from gracefully to…not gracefully.

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