It’s wonderful to get compliments when they come our way – it feels good, right?
Sometimes it feels uncomfortable to receive one.
Sometimes we don’t know what to say in response, other than a quick thank you.
Sometimes we downplay the compliment, or downright reject it: ‘Oh – hardly!’ or ‘I don’t really think so…’
Maybe we redirect it to the other person, one-upping the compliment, with a response like: ‘But you are so [insert one-upped compliment here], it’s amazing.’
Sometimes, it seems more comfortable to deflect it, or move quickly to another topic.
I’ve felt and done all of the above. One of my favourite deflection methods has been when the compliment is about an item of clothing – I’ll shift the focus from me to the item and offer a weird fact about it: ‘You look great in that sweater!’ – ‘Oh, thanks! Did you know I got it for free at a clothing exchange!?’ or ‘I’ve actually had this thing for 10 years already?!’
Why do we do this, though?
Maybe some of those responses are learned or seen as being humble and the polite way to respond to such accolades.
Maybe we don’t want to have attention on us.
Maybe it’s rooted in being so focused on our own shortcomings that we can’t seem to accept or sit comfortably with something positive said about ourselves – we just really can’t see it or believe it.
Through media (social and otherwise) and advertising, the world around us is largely focused on showing us what’s wrong with us, and offer us solutions as to how best to fix it. We can compare our bodies and our successes to curated highlights of others as we watch documentaries, movies, and scroll on social media. We can find out the latest ‘must haves’ or what we ‘need’ next in our lives – what to do or buy to be ‘better’ ‘more attractive’ ‘happier’ ‘more financially stable’ and on and on.
Add to this a tendency of the mind toward problem-solving, in general – and our thoughts along with the focus of our attention can tend toward zeroing-in on what we lack.
Throw in a little shyness or dislike of the limelight, and it makes sense that many of us might want to shift away from the compliments, from positive comments thrown our way – in favour of the more familiar, comfortable topics – perhaps those that dig in to: what we haven’t yet accomplished, what we might do to fulfill the thing that’s ‘missing’ in our lives, or to solve the problem we’re facing.
I catch myself doing this, too, and at times not really taking compliments in. There are probably many I don’t even remember due to not really letting them sink in.
Recently, in the middle of talking through something with a dear friend, she gave me a lovely and thoughtful compliment.
I noticed myself *just* about to breeze over it, *just* about to quickly bring the focus back to the main topic of conversation and dig back into the issue at hand.
But I caught myself. I paused. I sat with it for a moment and accepted it. And I trust I was gracious and thankful to her.
Each time these things happen it’s a good reminder.
I’m inviting you to lean in to the next compliment you receive – just a little more.
Pause. Take it in. Absorb it. Integrate it. Maybe write it down. Allow yourself to sit with it for awhile.
Let that compliment sink in. It’s a gift.
Wishing you a day of reflection on your wonderful qualities – whether others see them and comment on them, or not. ❤