Isn’t it the best when someone says something nice about you or shares how much they care about you? All the warm fuzzies and all the love. The greatest thing ever! Except…
Show of hands. Who feels uncomfortable in those situations?
Yeah, I can’t see you raising your hand, but I’d bet you are. I totally am. As much as I love for other people to show their appreciation for me, it often feels super uncomfortable to sit in that moment of praise. I want the positive feedback, but also want it to go away as soon as possible when it happens.
So what’s up with that?
I consider myself a relatively confident person. If you ask me to name some things I like about myself, it isn’t hard for me to come up with a list. Even on my worst, most insecure days (and yes, we ALL have them), I can logically think of some things that make me a pretty cool person. And yet, when someone else says it, it can feel all kinds of weird. It’s definitely not that receiving a compliment isn’t great, because it is. We’re just not used to it.
Think about it. When was the last time you said something meaningful, heartfelt, and/or positive to someone – just because?
It’s probably been a while. We’re given the subtle message that if you’re doing that, something’s wrong. How many times have you seen a scene in a TV show or movie where someone comes in, pays another person a compliment, and the immediate response is “What do you want?”. If it’s not that they want something, it’s that they must have done something wrong and they’re trying to make up for it. We don’t see nearly as many examples of someone just expressing their love and admiration for someone else.
We really have to break that habit.
Why wouldn’t you want someone you care about and appreciate to know that you do? I know I’m guilty of thinking something incredibly positive about someone, but not saying it out loud. I think the answer is pretty simple: to get better at accepting compliments, you need to give compliments.
If you’re doing it often, it becomes less foreign and uncomfortable to be in a situation in which people are just sharing their appreciation for someone for no other reason than they want to. You can absolutely create that environment. It will feel beyond odd at first, but who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by that?
So the next time you think about how cool your best friend is, or how much you love having your significant other in your life, share it with them.
It doesn’t mean you have to pour your heart and soul out to someone everyday. You don’t have to get TOO mushy on people. But the next time you look at someone’s shoes and think “I like those!”, tell them. If a friend or family member does something nice for you, and you feel so grateful to have them in your life, say it out loud. Tell people you’re proud of them. Remind your significant other just why you wanted to be with them in the first place.
It’s also okay to know that you’re worthy of compliments.
I think the struggle also comes from this idea that we aren’t allowed to think we’re amazing people. No one wants to seem “full of themselves”, but I think we’ve gone way too far. I get wanting to be humble – it’s an admirable quality! But you can be down to earth while also knowing that you are worth every wonderful thing someone could think to say about you. It’s more than fine to think that you’re pretty great, even with whatever flaws you have or mistakes you’ve made.
I challenge you to not only practice giving compliments more freely to others, but to also do it for yourself. We spend so much time putting ourselves down and generally saying mean things in our heads, so let’s reverse that a little bit. Make sure you tell yourself when you’re doing a great job too. When you look in the mirror, don’t forget to acknowledge that not only does your co-worker look great, but SO DO YOU.
Basically what I’m saying is that overall, we need more compliments.
Go give them out. To your friends. Your family. Partners. Co-Workers. Pets. And above all, don’t forget yourself too.
Rachel is a licensed therapist and co-founder of Viva Wellness. She gets most of her inspiration for the blog while on the run, and if you ever need to find her, she’s probably in Central Park. If she’s not running, you’ll find her planning the next time she’s going to eat, exploring all things wellness in NYC, or raising her stress level by watching her sports teams.