How Receiving Thanks Transforms Your Ability To Give it

By Henry Davis


It’s amazing how blind we can be to our own gifts. The charisma, magic, and talent that everyone else sees in us we so often miss or refuse to admit in ourselves. 

This summer, I reached a low point in my mental health. I wrote in my journal, “I feel like I’ve forgotten what I like about myself.” My mind raced with sounds of failure and feelings of not enoughness. I knew I had to do something or risk spiraling into depression. I felt the temptation to run, get out of dodge and isolate. This solidarity served me well in many seasons of my life. But in this instance, I craved something different. I desperately desired a fresh view of the parts of me that others claimed to see and love.  

“For all of my life I’ve been told to love others. Rarely has anyone said to allow others to love me.”

With my family’s counsel, I enrolled in Onsite’s “Living Centered Program.” A 6-day retreat-style experience that placed me around people with no prior knowledge or expectations of me. For these 6 days, I was separated from technology and banned from speaking about what I do or professional work of any kind. For these 6 days, I was just Henry. 

I jumped in head first, engaging in deep work and tapping into the group’s collective knowledge. In addition to the wisdom and relationships, I experienced myself anew. I learned that my problems are not unique and found acceptance in the messiness that makes us human. The most life-altering element of this week was allowing myself to receive the affirmation of others. These people had no reason to lie to me; they had no attachment to my success. For the first time in a long time, when I heard kind things said about me – I believed it. 

That new belief in who I was began to create an embodied experience. I began to see these things in myself: gentle boldness, innate leadership, caring compassion, etc. – I saw myself tapping into a fresh expression of Henry. It wasn’t about what I did in the world, how much I accomplished or finding some perfect version of myself. For the first time in a long time, my presence was enough. 

Here’s what I learned about receiving love and gratitude from others:

  1. Receiving love is one of life’s most self-less acts

I’ve always been the type to shed a compliment quicker than it arrived. I believed this humility was critical to being a “good person.” Truth is, rejecting the love of others is only doing the people you hope to love a great disservice. You need to see yourself to love yourself. And your ability to give love is only limited by your ability to receive.

  1. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking about yourself less.

You’re strong, courageous, inherently worthy, and unlike anyone else. In the Christian tradition, it’s said like this….” And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:10. We are potent expressions of the divine. Work to consciously see this in yourself, and you will require less focus on yourself. These are the grounds on which I’ve discovered my greatest joy. 

  1. Expressing gratitude for others invites them to do the same for you.

Expressing gratitude and encouragement can feel strange, especially if that wasn’t common in your house growing up. Intentionally creating the space for expressing gratitude can be a life-altering experience, both for the giver and the receiver. We all need affirmation, and this desire can lead us to search in unhealthy places (social media, unhealthy relationships, etc.). If you feel disconnected from your gifts, find someone you love and ask them, “what do you like about me.” I promise the answer won’t be complicated for them. The tricky part is believing their words in a way that transforms how you see yourself. 


After leaving OnSite, I noticed myself slipping into old habits and internal voices. But In these moments, I gently remind myself who I really am. I stay present to the impact of my presence and grounded in my divine nature. It’s a daily practice, but I’ve found it infinitely rewarding. Not just to myself, who can walk more boldly and confidently, but to the people I hold dearest. With the holiday approaching, please take some time to reflect on how you can better show thanks to yourself. Said simply, “In what ways are you thankful for you?” Spend time receiving and seeing yourself through this loving lens and relish in the joy that follows. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. I pray that you embody everything you already are.

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