April 27, 2010

Compliment Complement

Many of us struggle with accepting compliments. Why is that?

It could be low self-esteem, that we feel that we can do better or be better, or that we simply are caught off guard and don't know how to respond.

I never really knew that I struggled with receiving compliments until I realized that my automatic response was to point out why the statement was incorrect, or feel the urge to return the favor. While the second isn't necessarily a bad thing, it is an automatic response that is ultimately designed to take the focus off of me. Once I realized what I was doing, I made it a point to change my reaction.

Why did I feel that what this person likes about me or my image is incorrect? Why did I want to push all of the attention off of me and on to them or something else? What is so wrong about receiving a compliment?

For me, it comes down to self-image. I figured that their intuition about me couldn't be correct...that they just didn't know me well enough...or that they must have gotten the wrong impression. "There's no way someone could think those wonderful things about me! What, are they crazy?!?!"

Turns out the crazy one was me. In an attempt to be humble and to be more authentic, I chose to let the positive opinions of others slide by. I didn't want to become arrogant. I didn't want to become disconnected with the parts of myself that I wished to improve. But sooner or later I found out that I desired the way a compliment made me feel. I had allowed myself to slip down into a place of unworthiness, a place where I didn't believe that the "self" I projected to the world was in any way wonderful or deserving of praise, and in turn I created a world where I couldn't believe in who I was and who I wanted to be.

If you identify with anything that I have said above, here are a few steps to shut down your inner critic and truly believe in the positive messages that come your way.

1. Notice: First notice what your automatic response is to a compliment. Even if you don't reply outloud, or have found a way to simply say 'thank you', what does your inner voice say? How does is attempt to fight back?

2. Practice: Learn to accept compliments more graciously. Even if you don't yet believe them, determine how you would like to respond. One way to do this is to consider what you would want someone to say to you if you complimented them. Often, a warm and heartfelt 'thank you' and a smile does the trick. Avoid explaining, justifying, or automatically returning a compliment. Keep it short, genuine, and sweet.

3. Pause: Take a moment to turn off your inner voice, let the compliment sink in, and then graciously reply with your 'thank you'. This step also leaves room for my favorite part of compliments...save it for a rainy day. When you receive compliments on a day where you may not necessarily need one (which is sometimes the reason for our battle) don't let it go to waste. Remember what they said and how those kind words should make you feel. The next time you are feeling down, or lonely, take a peek into your collection of compliments and see what you goodies you find.

4. Embrace: Who gave you the compliment? What are their intentions? Our inner critic tends to provide negative reasons for why a person would take the time to compliment us. Instead, we should assume that the person is sincere, and simply just wants to make us feel good...some people just love to give compliments. Also consider the feelings of the other person when accepting a compliment. Your reaction can encourage or discourage them to give additional compliments to you down the road and even to other people. Accepting your compliment graciously will encourage the complimentor to spread the love to others because they will feel good about the reaction they received. Discouraging them by belittling their words will only make the world a darker place. You don't want to do that, now do you? I didn't think so.

5. Return: Another way to improve your compliment taking skills is to get better at giving them. Notice how those that you compliment receive them. Do they accept them graciously or do you feel that they are suspicious of you? This will also switch your focus to finding the positive in people. By focusing on more positive things, you will spend less time worrying about the negative and the benefits of giving and accepting compliments will be reflected in your life overall.

There you have them. 5 simple steps to embracing who you are and what the world appreciates about you. Oh...and don't forget my favorite part...they even wrote a song about it...

"For when your troubles start multiplyn...and they just might...it's easy to forget them without tryin'...with just a pocketful of starlight...Catch a fallin' star and put it in your pocket...save it for a rainy day. Never let it fade away!"

La La La Love you!

You simply are the best! (Do not insert negative inner voice here)

I mean it! You simply are the best!

You better believe it! (or at least put it in your pocket)

1 comment:

  1. You're amazing. It's nice to be complimented. Your world has turned. Drive on.

    ReplyDelete