If you're reading all of our posts about compliments, I am much like Mary Strand, who said she often finds compliments awkward.
It's easy to criticize but hard to compliment. Like too many women, I don't think I'm attractive. That's sad, isn't it? Let's call this Problem #1. But it's true. So when someone compliments my apperance, I preen for days. I once took family portraits for our annual holiday card and after I finished changing, the photographer handed me his SECOND business card, the one for Natural Portraits.
That was code for nude. He wanted to photograph me nude. He thought I had "an amazing body". *52-year-old me peers over glasses, says "Mmm hmmm" but 29-year-old me was so flattered, I almost said yes. But I digress.*
Back to compliments. I am so hard on myself, there is literally nothing I like about my appearance. So when a friend of mine told me, "I've been jealous of your hair since I met you and you don't like it? Seriously?"
I looked at her and said, "You have never once said you liked my hair. I had no idea."
Problem #2 -- Why is giving compliments so difficult? It shouldn't be, but it is.
I began complaining less about cowlicks and dry times and know what happened? I don't hate my hair as much as I used to because one person said she envied it.
Problem #3 -- Why do we need someone else to validate us like this? I don't know, but it's not just me. It seems to be a widespread issue.
So... the best compliment I ever received had nothing to do with my appearance. It came from my son, shortly after SEND, my debut novel, was released. We went to visit it at our local bookstore, as one does when their lifelong dream of getting published becomes a reality.
We stared at it.
We stroked its spine.
We posed for pictures beside it.
We told everyone who passed by who wrote it and tried not to care when they kept walking.
That's when my son said, "Mom, you know this is pretty amazing, right? You're the only person I know who made a goal and then made it happen."
I'm not sure if this qualifies as a compliment but it's still about the best thing anybody's said about me.
Back to Problems 1, 2, and 3 -- how can we learn to give OURSELVES compliments? Why must validation be external? Imagine this. "Patty, the heart and I were chatting this morning and we both agree, you're having a great hair day today," my brain says. And then I walk a little taller that day.
I need to start practicing this.