How to Accept a Compliment
I have been referred to as "brave," "gutsy," and " amazing." These can be added to the plethora of other adjectives people have used to describe me over the years, some of which I do not care to ever revisit as they are not so flattering.
I often have trouble seeing myself as others see me. I know that it is far too often that I sit back and wonder who the hell people are talking about when they share these wonderful views of me.
I must admit that I do not give a second thought to those adjectives, which are NOT quite so uplifting. I accept them as mine--lock, stock, and barrel. This is certainly evidence of my crazy-thinking. I seem to have passed along this legacy.
One day I had a conversation with my daughter in which she minimized some recent successes, as if they held little merit because of a grammatical mistake, or held less meaning because there was less competition. We could have talked about anything at that moment and I think there might have been the same result.
It was as if I were listening to myself. It made me sad to hear the same language coming from her, as I have spoken about my own success. She, too, is a remarkably capable woman with a host of any number of successes, from which she could draw to uplift herself or of which she should be proud.
Unfortunately, I taught her too well and am not particularly proud of this particular "success."
Consider the following scenarios:
Friend: "I love your blouse!" You: "Thanks, but...this is a hand-me-down."
Parent: "I'm proud of you for your accomplishment!" You: "Thanks, but... I hope the misspelled word at the end wasn't too noticeable."
Spouse: "Honey, you look great!" You: "Thanks, but...you don't think this makes me look too heavy?"
Oh, how I have come to cringe each time I hear these words coming out of my own mouth, or others' (mouths) around me. We might as well say, "Thanks, but... I don't hear what you have to say and don't accept your compliment of me, because you don't have a clue about how flawed (I really think) I am or you wouldn't say that! Are you blind/nuts/stupid/etc.?"
On a daily basis, I hear any number of successful, capable, bright people say this very thing in a variety of situations.
Is this evidence that we are a bunch of maladjusted neurotics in need of long-term psychotherapy? Or, perhaps, it is a culture which has evolved from the need to self-flagellate to gain access into heaven. Or maybe it is because "nice girls and boys" are not supposed to come across as very self-assured, or feel deserving of good things.
I am not sure of its genesis; nor does it really matter. What matters is this: When someone gives a compliment, the answer is, "Thank you." Period. Then revel in the shared good feelings.
Acceptance of a compliment means that you simply accept it graciously. You do not throw that "gift" back in the face of the other who has bestowed it upon you. Others need to be able to give to you without worrying whether or not they will enter into a verbal sparring match with you.
Do not rob them of the pleasure of giving. Nor must you rob yourself of the joy of acceptance.
So, for those who will read this and tell me how "brave," "gutsy," or "amazing" I am, I would like to get the words, "Thank you," out there in advance. One never knows when I might relapse.
And then I will put in a quick call to my therapist.
(Updated from the original piece, "How to Gracefully Accept a Compliment," written and published 1/10/09 by author at Yahoo! Voices [formerly Associated Content], and published June 17, 2013 on Bubblews. Removed by author.
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