Do not qualify a compliment.
I thought I would start with something I perceived as an easy change for my first week. Boy was I wrong. I’m sure I am not the only one who does this, but for as long as I can remember, when someone gave me a compliment it sounded a bit like this:
Them: That’s a pretty dress.
Me: Oh, this? Thanks, it’s so old, I should really get something new. I haven’t been shopping in ages.
Them: oh, ok.
Me: Yea :shrugs:
Or something like this:
Them: Your hair is such a pretty color, is it natural? (I get this one a lot actually)
Me: oh, thanks. Yes it is, I use to hate it as a kid. It’s such a mess today. I really need to learn to do something with it. It’s always just up in a ponytail. Blah blah blah.
I never noticed how hard it was for me to just say thank you, smile, and move on. After some reflection I realized I ramble on in a desperate attempt to hide the uncomfortable feeling that washed over me. Not any babble either, usually something that contradicts the compliment, making it sound like I do not believe them. So, last week I tried to just say “thank you” and let the compliment float around a bit as compliments are supposed to. There were times I had to count to five in my head after saying thanks just so I wouldn’t start spewing the awfulness.
I learned a lot about myself in this process. I realized that by qualifying their complement, I was leaving myself in a negative place. I was using their compliment as an opportunity to put myself down. Even worse, I didn’t realize I was doing it.
When I would simple say thanks, I not only felt better about myself in that specific moment, the feeling followed me around for a good portion of the day. I cannot believe I had been robbing myself of that experience for years! While I would like to say I’m a changed woman, that is far from the truth. I would have given myself a B on this exercise. Yes, I accomplished the task although there was room for improvement.
I am looking forward to my next challenge – I just need to decide what that will be!
Photo credit: Bahman Farzad
Title: Pink Lotus Flower