“You did a great job”.
“You look beautiful”.
“Thank you for helping out”.
How does reading these compliments make you feel? Do you feel proud, uncomfortable, or shy when you get recognition? It probably depends on who it’s coming from and if we can read the motives behind the words. I’ve learned to view compliments differently now than how I did before.
I don’t know when it was that I became self conscious, but I remember it was before I became a teenager. Members of my family would at times tell me or my mom that I was pretty. Yeah, talk about an ego booster there! When it came from male members though, I quickly learned that sometimes there was an ulterior motive to their compliment, and it wasn’t good. I then became leery of hearing any male tell me good things about my appearance. I viewed them with suspicion. By then my self esteem was non existent. My perfectionism had heightened, and I was extremely self critical. So when teachers and other well meaning adults would give me a genuine compliment, I didn’t believe it. This came to include my husband and close friends.
This past summer my husband sent me a text in which he asked me if I had any idea of how much I meant to him. I was having negative thoughts that day and I replied by telling him that I could spend a lifetime asking myself that question, and never understand why he loved and cared so much for me. Although I meant what I said, I felt so bad for having turned his compliment into a discussion over how terrible I felt. I thought, “if he had spent time and money to buy a gift for me, would I have treated it the same?” Why was I treating his compliment as anything less than a gift?
Seeing it that way has helped me to appreciate words of encouragement, love, and approval. Compliments are gifts that are within the power of all of us to give to our loved ones; regardless of our financial status. If someone has taken the time to observe something positive in us and shared it, it’s a gift. Accept it, don’t throw it back at them. If we have a negative self image, this may be easier said than done, I know! But if you choose to see their compliments as gifts (I literally have to bring up the picture of a present in my mind), it will become easier to accept them. Soon they will look like gems, and these aren’t things you throw away or refuse!
This process does involve learning to distinguish a genuine compliment from one where the persons’ motive is selfish. Their actions will speak louder than words, literally. But you will find that those who love you won’t use their words simply to flatter you, but to build you up, and help you become a better person. That’s what we should want isn’t it? To help one another improve our lives.
Well, this is my gift to you:
“You are doing awesome!”
“I’m so proud of you.”
Love you guys ; )