I saw this meme this week and I literally spit my drink all over my brand new iPhone x in a fit of laughter. But my very next thought was “this is the most accurate depiction of my life that I’ve ever seen and that’s a shame”.
What made it so hilarious is that a recent topic of conversation in my life has been that I really just don’t know how to take a compliment.
If you think I am exaggerating, let me tell you this story. I’ve been dating this guy (and for my regular followers, you know I’m clueless to dating already.) We were leaving church as he is telling me something sweet and saying how he wished we could spend more time together that day. My response was something along the lines of “I know I’m so great and it’s hard to walk away from me”. His response? He laughed and said “You know you really make it hard to be nice to you sometimes.” OUCH!
You see, I just cannot take compliments sincerely. Ever. So when he says something like “you look beautiful”, I often awkwardly avert eye contact, look down at the ground while I blush or do the complete opposite and laugh loudly while I say something extra like “yeah, I know I am the most beautiful girl ever in the history of girls that have ever lived in all of eternity” (insert face palm).
We later had a conversation where I explained to him my over the top reactions were often just a deflecting mechanism because I don’t know to sincerely accept compliments from people. That’s when he hit me with the most profound piece of wisdom I have ever heard. “Kristen, just say thank you.”
I guess everyone knows that the proper etiquette is to politely and humbly express your gratitude. But his statement lead me to do a little self evaluation as to why it was that I had such a hard time receiving compliments from him.
At first I thought it was just another thing I can add to my list of man issues. I don’t take compliments well because in the past they lacked sincerity and harbored ulterior motives. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized it isn’t just him or men I have a hard time excepting compliments from. And it’s not confined to compliments on my looks. I often react in one of my two extremes to anything nice anyone has to say about me.
I remember just last year my pastor did one of those “pair up with somebody and tell them” kind of things that pastors always make you do. I turned to the girl sitting next to me and told her a million wonderful things about her heart for God, her kindness and spoke a whole word of greatness over her life. When it was her turn to do the same for me, I could only look down at the floor.
If you google the phrase “I can’t take compliments” (I did it of course) you’ll end up coming across a lot of information explaining that often people can’t take compliments because they don’t see themselves as worthy. They are left feeling vulnerable because they don’t compliment themselves enough to be able to receive praise from others.
I think once upon a time that was my truth. Once upon a time I didn’t believe that I was worthy of praise from myself or anyone else for the matter. So I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself and others that I was.
That doesn’t quite hold true for me anymore. Over the years, I’ve learned to give myself credit. I’ve learned to look in the mirror and remind myself “girl you are a rockstar”. Even when my flaws cause me to stumble at times, I don’t fail to remind myself of what it is that I do right and the things I love about myself.
Where I am now, I think that my aversion to compliments is a combination of lack of trust and a fear of being a disappointment.
What I mean is that I do indeed sometimes have a hard time trusting the sincerity of someone’s praises toward me. My mind still defaults to the place where I had to question why. Because let’s be honest, sometimes people do just say things because they sound good and not because they actually believe them about you.
But my biggest problem is that when I believe the sincerity is there, for whatever reason, they’ll change their mind. Somehow, someway, I’ll leave them disappointed.
Because just because I’ve learned to love me and except all my flaws myself, doesn’t always mean that I believe others will.
So depending on how I am feeling in the moment and the nature of the compliment I either shy away from it or resort to some over the top reaction in hopes to convince them that what they are saying is actually true.
What I have decided is that in either scenario, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes people will say things they don’t believe because they think it’s what you want to hear. And that can be painful. Other times, somebody will tell you something amazing about yourself only for you to prove them wrong later. But no matter what, it doesn’t mean that you can’t except a little praise from time to time. It doesn’t make you any less worthy of it.
So I’m on a mission so stop overthinking people’s compliments. I’m not going to look away. I’m not going be over the top. I’m going to smile, and just sincerely tell them