Recently, I’ve been referred to as “brave,” “gutsy,” and “amazing.” Of course these can be added to a plethora of other words people have used to describe me over the years, some of which I don’t care to ever revisit.
I often have trouble seeing myself as others see me. I know that it is far too often that I sit back and wonder who the hell people are talking about when they share these wonderful views of me.
But I must admit that I don’t give a second thought to those adjectives which are NOT quite so uplifting–I accept them as mine…lock, stock, and barrel. This is certainly evidence of my crazy-thinking. And I seem to have passed along this legacy.
Just the other day I had a conversation with my daughter in which she minimized some recent successes, as if they held little merit because of a grammatical mistake, or held less meaning because there was less competition. We could have talked about anything at that moment and I think there might have been the same result. It was as if I were listening to myself, and it made me sad to hear it coming from her, as she is a remarkably capable woman with a host of any number of successes from which she could draw to uplift herself, or of which she should be proud.
Consider the following scenarios:
Friend: “I love your blouse!” You: “Thanks, but…this is a hand-me-down.”
Parent: “I’m proud of you for your accomplishment!” You: “Thanks, but… I hope the misspelled word at the end wasn’t too noticeable.”
Spouse: “Honey, you look great!” You: “Thanks, but…you don’t think this makes me look too heavy?”
Oh, how I’ve come to cringe each time I hear those words coming out of my own mouth, or others around me. We might as well say, “Thanks, but… I don’t hear what you have to say and don’t accept your compliment of me, because you don’t have a clue about how flawed (I really think) I am or you wouldn’t say that! Are you blind/nuts/stupid/etc.?”
On a daily basis, I hear any number of successful, capable, bright people say this very thing in a variety of situations. Is this evidence that we are a bunch of maladjusted neurotics in need of long-term psychotherapy? Or, perhaps, it’s a culture which has evolved from the need to self-flagellate to gain access into heaven. Or maybe it’s because nice girls and boys aren’t supposed to come across as very self-assured, or feel deserving of good things.
I’m not sure of its genesis ; nor does it really matter. What matters is that when someone gives a compliment, the answer is, “Thank you.” Period. Then revel in the shared good feelings. And when you can accept it, you don’t throw that “gift” back in the face of the other who has bestowed it upon you. Others need to be able to give to you; don’t rob them of that pleasure. And don’t rob yourself either.
So, for those who will read this and tell me how “brave,” “gutsy,” or “amazing” I am, I’d like to get the words, “Thank you,” out there in advance. One never knows when I might relapse.
And I’ll put in a quick call to my therapist.