When was the last time you received a compliment and really received it? Felt it down in your core and let it touch you?
I’ll be honest, my eyes are a little leaky writing this. Because it’s a big struggle for me. To really accept a compliment, to believe someone’s words about how I have helped them, what I mean to them, or even that they think I look nice. To believe that they mean it, and that they aren’t just “trying to be nice.”
This is one thing that I am definitely not alone in struggling with. And for myself, I couldn’t tell you where this came from in my life, but I can definitely tell you that it started young. And I can tell you that I both craved the praise (**people-pleaser alert**) AND didn’t believe it. Deflect, deflect, deflect.
I remember someone complimenting my brand-new pink and white LA Gear sneakers in 5th grade. And I immediately replied “thanks, they were on sale for $ [insert early 90s sale price here]! Why? Did I not believe that I deserved to pay full price for cool shoes from a popular brand? Maybe.
Many of us, high-achieving women in particular, are used to deflecting compliments, and likely for many different reasons. So again, I ask you, when was the last time you received a compliment and really received it?
It’s time for us to stop. If we want to feel better, if we want to feel appreciated, loved and valuable, part of what is needed is believing good things about ourselves. And that means accepting compliments. Letting others share with you how your words, your actions, your caring, etc have influenced them in a positive way. I can tell some of you are starting to squirm right now.
If you are a people-pleaser, and used to putting others above you, then I think it has to start there. Letting other people’s positive reflections touch you emotionally. Not responding with deflection, or minimization, but with a simple “thank you.” And then repeat the words to yourself or jot them down, or just sit with them for a moment and take a deep breath.
And once you can do that…we go deeper. How do you compliment yourself? How do you thank yourself for the wins, big and small? How do you start to believe that you have a positive impact in the lives of people around you? Can you think of three things that you did today that helped someone? Again, without deflecting or minimizing? Can you close your eyes and smile and feel grateful to yourself for today?
I’ll share a simple practice I adopted a few months back, and I invite you to take it on. Grab one of the many empty notebooks/journals you have lying around (totally me, totally working on it!), and as many days as you can, sit and write down the following:
1.) What one thing am I grateful to myself for today?
2.) What one thing am I grateful to another human for today?
3.) What brought me joy today?
I have started gratitude journals many times (hence many notebooks/journals lying around), but this practice has been far more impactful because I am grateful to myself first. It’s a small daily action, and I do it daily while my kids are working on their bedtime routine (they aren’t tiny anymore, so my role is more coaching at this point). It’s been helpful to do it at that time because frankly, I am waiting for them to move through their jobs, and it’s generally a time that is more frustrating for me corralling them, so this small self-focused gratitude practice is a great way to stay present.
So please, adopt the gratitude practice, and start to let other people’s compliments really enter into your heart. If you struggle with people-pleasing, perfectionism and/or burnout, these are small, but impactful ways to improve your day. And if you send me an email at [email protected]
about how this has helped you, I promise to let that compliment in too….