So last week I was having a conversation with my husband and he pointed out that I was being a bit negative. This is something that I have asked for his help with. I am really bad about looking at the good. I do countless things for countless people, but I can never seem to give myself credit for what I do. I make a great dinner and I’m complimented. My answer, “well maybe I should’ve tried it this way, or that way!” I create a beautiful table design and second guess everything that I’ve done. I sing for an event and it’s, “well I really could have done much better!” What is it about me that I cannot take a compliment? Why, as women especially, are we so quick to compare ourselves to others, or second guess what we are doing?
When he pointed this out I thought, have I been negative? Have I been quick to dismiss kind words that are sent my way? But more importantly, what am I teaching my children who are in their critical teenage years, and what has this constant negative response taught them thus far? I was devastated. I thought that I had been doing much better only to realize that those sneaky negative thoughts had crept back in. Second guessing myself is something that I learned. My mother did it, my grandmother did it. I remember it so clearly. My mother and grandmother were both incredible cooks, bakers, and homemakers that taught me with love, yet when they were complimented their response was how they should have been better. This taught me that no matter how well I did something, I should look for the flaws.
I’m not angry about this, I think that it was generational. I think women were not empowered as they are now. I want to be better. I want my sons to compliment the women in their lives with sincerity, and believe also in their own abilities. As for my daughter, I do NOT want this behavior to repeat. She is remarkable. I want my children to know that when someone tells them how great they are, or how well they have done, to simply say thank you and move on.
Taking a compliment seems like such a simple thing to do, but why is it so darn hard? By accepting someone’s words do we believe that we are being conceited? Are we afraid that someone will think, man she sure is full of herself? This was so interesting for me to explore. Modesty is a good thing, but are we being modest because we have an innate belief that the only reason we are receiving a compliment is because the other individual has low standards? The answer is absolutely not!! Think about the compliments that you give. What is your motivation behind them? I imagine if you think about it from this perspective you realize that the compliments you give are genuine. You tell people how you feel because you TRULY mean it, and guess what, they do too.
Why have I never thought about it from the opposite perspective? Oh wait, that’s right, I learned it the opposite way… MIND BLOWN!! We have to be better examples to those who learn from us. This may be our children, our parents, our siblings, our friends, our co-workers, and the list goes on. One of my favorite “Dr Philisms” is that we teach people how to treat us. If we constantly dispute the lovely words others share towards us, they will stop sharing. No one wants to be met with a negative comeback every time they give a genuine compliment. We will teach all of those around us that we are not worthy of their words. We will teach them to stop trying, and the most important point for me is that I’m teaching that to my three favorite people on the planet.
Time to change my mindset. Time to remind myself that I must look at it from another perspective. I have to practice what I preach. So here’s plan B. If you have told me that I make amazing food, thank you! If you have told me that you love my beautiful table design, thank you! If you have told me that I’m a good teacher, thank you! If you have told me that you loved my singing at your event, thank you! Whatever compliment you have given me, I thank you truly from the bottom of my heart!
Whew, that was hard for me, like cringe in my seat hard, but there’s no time like the present to make that change. You all are remarkable, talented people, so shut your yaps, and let others tell you once in a while. For now, that’s the best I’ve got. Peace and there’s my little dish on this fine day!
2 thoughts on “Take a Compliment, or Not!!”
Sweet, Deb–I am so glad you are engaging in this conversation. You are absolutely right that this is a problem for so many of us–you are certainly not alone–and I love that you are demonstrating the courage to open your heart and share your thoughts about this because I believe you are not only teaching others, but you are changing lives. Just by asking these questions and sharing your own experience, you are showing us how to give ourselves greater compassion and self-love. Thank you for letting your life and story be an example. You are amazing!
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Kristi, Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my words! I couldn’t agree more!