The Discomfort of Being Shown Gratitude

Why does gratitude make us feel uncomfortable? Have we become alien to the feeling that we have done something good for someone else? Maybe we’ve become accustomed to preferring that people return the favour instead. Or perhaps we are burdened by all our other flaws, that we think our good deeds are not out of charity, but a subconscious balancing of scales, of penance.

How often do we even hear people say “You’re welcome,” anymore? We say “No problem,” “Don’t worry about it,” “No worries.” Why? Are we afraid that people actually feel welcome to expect charity from us? Is it a way for us to ensure that they understand that we intended it to be an occasional occurrence? Maybe we like the idea of assuming that they think it was an inconvenience to us, but that we were so kind to have indulged them. So semantically we emphasise that it wasn’t a problem, that it wasn’t a cause for concern – it could’ve been for another individual, but not to us, because we are just that much more generous.

I long to be comfortable with being shown gratitude, not because I expect it, but because maybe it will make me more grateful in return. Accepting someone else’s gratitude switches a light on in me, showing me the way to choose to see the sincerity in an expression of thanks, and allowing me to be so humbled by it that I, in turn, become more comfortable with showing gratitude myself.

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