If you’re anything like me, you probably feel a little uncomfortable when someone gives you a compliment.
Don’t worry – it’s perfectly normal.
In fact, a study showed that 70% of us feel embarrassed after receiving praise. But then there are the extreme cases.
I’m talking about those people who seriously don’t feel worthy of love, period. It could be due to a traumatic childhood or because someone they trusted made them feel worthless.
It’s such a deep-rooted belief, that even when they’re being showered with love, they still don’t feel it or think that they deserve it.
Dealing with these individuals requires a tactful approach.
If you’re having difficulty connecting with someone, here are eight things you can try that might help break down those barriers.
1) Have the patience of a saint
Right off the bat, you need to understand something very important.
The feeling of not deserving love doesn’t happen overnight. It’s developed, evolved, and grown over many years (possibly for their entire life).
So you can’t just arrive on the scene, wave a magic wand, and instantly fix things.
It’s going to take time.
This means you’re going to need patience.
Remember, don’t take it personally if they initially push you away. It’s their natural defenses kicking in. You’ll need to tank a lot of this (for a long time) if you want to make any headway.
So set your expectations, stay patient, and don’t give up!
What’s important here is their trajectory. In other words, are you noticing an improvement in their behavior or are they blocking you out even more?
With this in mind, start with…
2) Small (and consistent) acts of kindness
I’m talking about baby steps.
This is the idea of breaking huge intimidating tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces.
And it’s super relevant here.
Because by expressing your love with small but thoughtful gestures, over a long period of time, you slowly build a sense of worthiness without overwhelming them.
It could be anything from a kind note or occasional compliment to a personal gift.
The important thing is that you keep it up (even if you don’t see immediate progress). Consistency is key.
3) Share your own struggles
Being authentic and transparent is a great way to build trust.
Here’s the thing.
Sharing your own vulnerabilities makes you more relatable and helps you to connect on a deeper level. Especially if you’ve been through similar experiences.
It’ll make them realize that everyone faces difficulties and that it’s fine to accept support from others.
4) Respect boundaries
Listen, I get it.
It can be extremely frustrating trying to connect with someone who doesn’t feel worthy of love.
But you must respect their boundaries at all times.
Don’t push them if they’re not ready (remember, baby steps and patience!)
Because otherwise, you’re effectively bulldozing them. And rather than making progress, bulldozing can result in a big step in the wrong direction (that might take months to recover from).
So rather than bulldozing, try this next one.
5) Challenge negative thoughts
The fact of the matter is, that when beliefs are developed (and reinforced) over many years, they tend to be difficult to shift.
I had a friend that was incredibly cynical.
When she met a new partner, she’d always assume the worst.
She’d say things like, “It’s only a matter of time before he realizes how terrible I am” or, “I don’t understand what he sees in me”.
When you hear things like this, it’s super important to challenge them. Because ignoring them is like agreeing with them (in their mind).
Even if they don’t accept your opinion (and stubbornly stick to their view), at least you’re putting up some resistance to their twisted outlook. Over time, it should start to rub off.
And remember to be tactful (see below).
6) Create a safe space
I don’t mean physically (although a comfy sofa certainly helps). I mean an emotional environment where they feel at ease expressing themselves (without fear of being criticized).
It’ll allow you to provide plenty of non-judgemental support.
You might be wondering how you create a safe space.
Well, it involves giving them your full attention, suspending all judgment, expressing empathy, and validating their feelings. Let them know it’s okay for them to feel the way they do.
It might not feel like it, but this is huge.
You can also ask open-ended questions to encourage them to delve deeper into their feelings.
Once you have your safe space established, it can act as a solid foundation to connect more deeply with them.
7) Hit them with affirmations
When done correctly, positive affirmations reinforce someone’s strengths and qualities.
They can help motivate people, reduce stress, get through tough times, increase confidence, and of course, help you connect with someone (who doesn’t feel worthy of love).
It’s similar to giving someone a compliment but usually has more ‘hard fact’ behind it.
Think of affirmations as a positive observation about someone’s character, attitude, or behavior.
For example, “You have beautiful eyes” could be seen as an opinion, but “You’re incredibly talented at Math, you scored highest in your class” is more of an affirmation.
Do you see the difference?
You’re taking something that’s relatively undisputed and emphasizing it for them (over and over again) until they start to accept it.
And try to be as specific as you can.
The more detail there is in your affirmation, the more likely they are to get on board with it.
8) Steer clear of giving solutions
This is a tough one (trust me).
Because when dealing with challenges, it’s natural to go into problem-solving mode.
In other words, you want to come up with a bunch of possible solutions.
But emotions are complex things and often don’t have a straightforward solution.
Attempting to provide quick fixes can oversimplify what someone is experiencing. At best, this will prove ineffective. At worst, you can come across as insensitive and disrespectful.
Instead, focus on simply being there for someone.
I’m talking about actively listening, being empathetic, and following the other points listed above.