30 April 2007

Go ahead and pat yourself on the back


A few weeks ago I received a very nice compliment. I smiled and kind of looked at the floor, shuffled my feet a little and muttered "Aw, thanks" with a half wink for good measure. Afterwards my mind was flooded with a ton of different thoughts, "Phew, I'm doing pretty well", "Wow, do people really see me this way?", "Am I deceiving them?", Great, I'm a phony.", "I hate being made into an example.", "She's right!", "It's about time I got some recognition!". Later I asked my husband, over and over, if he thought I was a genuine person.

So, I got to thinking... how common is it for women to turn away from compliments? Think back to the last time you received a compliment and how you responded. It's in our nature as women, moreso I think as moms, to downplay our accomplishments. And we tend to focus a lot on the negatives - blowing them out of proportion in our minds - when a lot of times those negatives are what make you a better woman. Take, for instance, my insecurity about cooking healthy meals for my children. I float in and out of vigilance in this area, sometimes rationalizing that by the end of the day I really just need to have things be easy (as I guiltily/wearily pull out the macaroni and cheese). While it may not be the dinner of champions, it's one area where I am good at letting go a bit... and letting go does not come very naturally to me. I take a look at the well balanced lunches I send to school and low sugar diet we maintain, and have to call it good on some nights. Thank goodness over all success (say, in motherhood) is not about one event. It's about wanting what's best and doing my best. Sure, I'm capable of that extra 45 minutes over the stove, but I may not be in the mood to kiss anybody good night, which to me is more important.

It's just one small way we neglect ourselves, avoiding compliments. I think it would do us all some good to look at ourselves in the mirror and give ourselves a good pat on the back! Maybe even a few affirmations (which feel silly but really do work) will reposition our thinking, so that the next time we receive a compliment we can actually stand a little taller and say "thank you".

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Txmommy over at Too Many to Count has some beautifully written and very inspiring thoughts for the last Woman to Woman. She did not get a chance to post them until Saturday, so if you get a chance you really should stop by and read it.

18 comments:

Tracey said...

Good points. I think women as a whole have a hard time accepting the good compliments. It's always easier to believe the bad, isn't it?And it's always easier to believe that everyone else has it more "together" than you do. Which is total bull. :)

Montserrat said...

I have a friend that is wonderful about complimenting others on their accomplishments whether big or small. She is great to be around.:D But I realized as I was reading your post that she also knows how to receive compliments too.

Positive reinforcement works on anyone, including ourselves.

Zoe said...

Lei, this is so true. We are taught to be humble but I sometimes think that somewhere along the way we forgot to learn to recognize our accomplishments! We do need to accept compliments - after all, they are sometimes the only recognition we get in our hectic lives! I treasure them! :) You are an awesome person and btw, your kids will not have to worry about their weight with you and Andrew as parents! I say Mac and Cheese it is!! LOL!

Lei, if there is something that you are interested in from the boutique, let me know . . . and you name your price. :) I want to be fair to my friends (well, and everyone!)and you definitely deserve first dibs!!

:) :) :)

An Ordinary Mom said...

What great advice. So many of us are striving to be happier people, and that can't happen if we are always belittling ourselves and putting ourselves down. It is possible to humbly accept a compliment.

So thank you for sharing your wisdom and insights with us!

Lisa M. said...

I enjoyed TX Mommy's post. Thank you for the heads up about that-.

As for compliments. I am horrid at accepting them.

The other day, over ice cream with a group of mothers of special needs children, someone said to me, "Wow. You are incredible" After shuffling around for a few minutes, another gal said, "Lisa.. say thank you to Linda, she is being genuine."

It never occurred to me, that my not accepting a compliment, I could be disrespecting the person who gave it to me.

This was a great post-

Terina said...

i have always had a hard time with accepting compliments. and this was WAY long ago that this started, not since i've been a mom. i have learned to say thank you, but it is still not easy.
this post gave me some things to think about....i love that. thanks.

tongue in cheek said...

Isn't it true, that we say thank you for gifts given ? A compliment is a gift.

Thank you for your insightful blog!

michelle said...

You are so right! I never fully understood why we do that, and why is it so easy to believe something negative about ourselves and so hard to believe something positive and uplifting.

Jen said...

This reminds me of Ellen Degeneres. She said something about how women can't take a compliment, and when they do, they discount it. To "cute shirt!" We respond, "Thanks! I got it for $2..."

It's so true, its very hard to accept compliments sometimes! And Lei, as far as the mac and cheese goes, I truly believe than an imperfect meal served with love is better than the best organic gourmet meal that projects your stress.

Barb said...

I've never met a mom yet who didn't deserve a pat on the back. It's a tough job. Very rewarding, but hard, hard.

It took me forever to learn to just graciously accept a compliment. For years, if anyone complimented me I immediately put myself down. Nowadays, I realize a compliment IS a gift and the gracious thing to do is simply say thank you. Chances are, when we receive a compliment, we deserve it.

utmommy said...

I have an extremely hard time accepting comliments. This was a great post, as usual! Thanks.

Ivey Elizabeth Sirmans said...

Great post. Compliments are hard to receive some times.

scribbit said...

My husband would be cheering right now. It drives him crazy that he will compliment me (usually on a physical appearance issue) and I just can't ever let it go gracefully. It's hard for me to see what he sees, I've always thought I was terribly funny looking and for him to say "you're beautiful" or something throws me off. I never know what to say when I know it's just him with his rose-colored glasses. I try to just say "thanks" but it's hard.

MommyK said...

I think we do ourselves a great disservice when we can't accept compliments. We have enough people cutting us down without doing it ourselves! I agree with Jen. Women have a way of deflecting compliments. "Great dress!" "This old thing?" I realized that I do it too. One of my coworkers told me I looked great after I had my daughter. And I said in return, "Oh, I still have twenty pounds to lose." Why couldn't I see myself through her eyes? Sure, I didn't look like I did before I got pregnant, but I did still look good!

I just read a great post on another site this morning about why it's OK to write about your darkest feelings, your most unproud mommy moments, but somehow no one ever talks about feeling like a great parent...and that's a real shame, because we all love our kids, and we're all doing the best we can. And if that isn't good enough, I don't know what is.

Lei said...

that is a fantastic idea, mommyk - writing about why we're great parents. i think we'll add that one to woman to woman. if you'll tell me whose idea it was, i'll give them credit. thanks!

MommyK said...

It's here: http://babble.com/CS/blogs/straightfromthebottle/archive/2007/05/01/good-parent.aspx
but be warned in advance that there are a couple curse words.

I thought of something else...if someone tells you that you have beautiful children, no one on the earth would ever brush that compliment off. So why do we have such a hard time accepting it when people tell us nice things about ourselves?

MommyK said...

http://babble.com/CS/blogs/straightfromthebottle/archive/2007/05/01/good-parent.aspx

OK, try that...

Lei said...

thank you so much mommy k!