Give a Compliment, Take a Compliment

I stopped in a local restaurant a few weeks ago to pick up some take out (I was craving pineapple rice) and while I was making my selection, the hostess, who couldn’t have been more than 17 or 18 years old, just came right out and gave me the best compliment. She said “You’re so pretty.” I was taken off guard at first, but then I smiled and accepted her compliment by responding “Thank you. You’re so sweet for saying that.”

After that, I didn’t see her again. She just disappeared. And I got to thinking maybe she was embarrassed for saying that to me. Then I realized how long it actually took me in my life to be able to take a compliment graciously. Let me explain.

Have you been complimented by someone only to dismiss the compliment? I bet you have.

“You look super cute in that hat.”

“Oh, thank you. I’m having a bad hair day.”

Or what about this one: “I love your dress!”

“Oh, thanks. I got it on sale.”

It’s like we just can’t say thank you. We have to explain away why we look cute or why we are wearing this brand or that brand. As if it is somehow a prideful or egocentric thing to just say thank you to someone who is giving you a compliment. It is not! I heard a talk once about being a gracious receiver of gifts and I believe the message is similar.

If someone has gone out of their way to get you something, no matter how small, receive the gift with grace and a “thank you.” When you tell them “oh, you shouldn’t have” or “you didn’t have to do that” or “I can’t accept this” you are judging their chosen way to show their appreciation to you. They could have given you a hug or just said “Thanks,” but they chose gift giving and you should be ready to accept it. Making those kinds of comments, though well-meaning, can bite back.

Compliments are the same. If someone is making themselves vulnerable enough to give you a compliment, accept it graciously. Do not attempt to explain it away or minimize what they are saying in an effort to keep them from somehow feeling bad about themselves. Accept it and be grateful. Part of the reason this is so hard is because we are not complimentary of ourselves, so we cannot see how someone else could be.

What I want to challenge you with today is to go out and give compliments to others. Don’t just go out and compliment people all willy-nilly, but if you see some shoes you like, or an outfit you like, or a beautiful person, or a hairstyle — TELL THE PERSON!

Then give yourself one compliment every day. It can be something small but compliment something you’ve done or how you look or one of your wonderful characteristics. And then when someone else compliments you, just say “thank you.”

How Did I Get Here?

Have you ever been sitting there thinking those words: How did I get here? It could be about a variety of things in life, but if you’re human, I’jm willing to bet you have in fact thought those very words. What I want you to think about right now is how did you get to the place where you don’t love yourself, or maybe even like yourself? How did that happen? What I know for sure is that you didn’t start out as a little human not loving yourself. You were TAUGHT to not love yourself. Sit with that a minute and think back to the messages you have received through the years.

“You can’t do that.”

“That doesn’t look good on you.”

“That’s not good enough.”

“You’re too heavy/tall/thin/short/fat.”

“Did you even try?”

“That’s a crazy idea.”

The message comes in many forms. Sometimes it is obvious that it is a critical message. Other times it is more subtle. I like to think of us as having been contaminated by these critical messages through the years. Perhaps our natural state is to love ourselves and others and we are taught to hate others and ourselves through our interactions with others.

Think about this: Have you ever been watching a 2 year old play? It’s a lot of “look at me!” “Watch this!” “I’m super fast!” That seems to be the natural state of humans. A state where they think themselves to be amazing and love themselves for all of that amazing-ness. But then it starts to happen. Sometimes it happens in your own home. Sometimes it is not until you start school — but you start to become contaminated. People begin rejecting you. Judging you. Criticizing you. And all of a sudden you begin to question if you’re good or not… Maybe they are right. Maybe they know something you don’t know…

It starts off slowly and it just compounds on top of itself from there. In writing this, I had to think back to the first time I remember getting messages from peers about not being good enough or similar enough to everyone else that caused my peers to direct critical comments toward me. As I can remember, it wasn’t until the 5th grade (after I had gained weight over the summer) that people began calling me “fat.” That continued into middle school and seemed to tame down a bit by high school — mind you, looking back, I can see that I was not fat. But, maybe they knew something I didn’t know. Maybe they were right. Maybe I was supposed to look like those super thin friends of mine. That’s when the questioning starts. Then it is compounded by messages from the media and society. Eventually, we start saying mean, awful things to ourselves. And what’s worse is we BELIEVE those things.

“I’m fat.”

“I’m ugly.”

“My breasts/teeth/feet are the wrong size.”

“I’m not good enough.”

“No one will ever love me.”

“I’m not worthy of love/acceptance/friendship/kindness.”

Ugh! I hate even typing those things now! You see, I used to believe those things. I used to think that I was the ugliest and grossest person on the planet. That no one would love me and I was bound to die alone in a box down by the river. I feared rejection and judgment. I feared being vulnerable because I felt so vulnerable all the time anyway. And it wasn’t until I started talking to myself differently that I started feeling differently and acting differently. I started focusing on the people in my life that were supportive and uplifting. I started listening to the people who said they loved me and showed me they loved me in their own unique ways.

Then I started telling myself what I loved about myself. It started out small. “I like my cute little nose and my pretty feet.” Then it grew into believing that my face was beautiful. Then it progressed into realizing that I don’t have to look like everyone else for people to find my body beautiful. I embraced my curves & my bulges (that’s the harder part, by the way… there are still some of those that I don’t like so much — but I’m working on it). And each day I look in the mirror and tell myself at least one thing I like about myself. Over the years, those messages people gave me in 5th grade and throughout middle school have quietened & I can hear my natural state again. The state that loves everything about itself. The state that says STAND UP AND DO SOMETHING. The state that knows its own power and worth. That state is present in you, too. Let’s find it! And don’t let anything “dim that light that shines from within!”

Celebrating You, Celebrating Me, Celebrating Us

Monday was my 38th birthday! For years I have tried to find ways to celebrate that give back to others; donating blood, volunteering, raising money for a cause.

Hello 38!!

This year I wanted to do something that celebrated by giving back all year… and maybe even longer than that! I want to take myself on a new journey this year; a different kind of journey. A meaningful journey. I’ve set out on many journeys through the years, some have been intentional. Some I have stumbled upon. This year I want to take a journey that impacts the lives of others in a meaningful way. I want to bring you with me on this journey.

It’s a journey to improving the way we look at ourselves. We are constantly bombarded by messages from others and from ourselves about what we should look like, what we should have accomplished thus far in our lives, the roles we should be playing, etc. With all these messages, which start at such a young age, we have lost sight of the fact that we are beautiful creatures, inside and out.

My goal is to help encourage you in your development of a greater sense of appreciation for yourself. To be transparent about the struggles that go along with loving yourself, caring for yourself and flourishing in a world that screams ‘you are not good enough’ by sharing my own struggles and thoughts.

You might be asking yourself what makes this blog any different from the other body positive blogs or self-esteem blogs. The answer is nothing really. I’m no different from any other woman out there looking to build up others, empower people and edify humanity. Use as many tools as you can to find your way. I have over a decade of experience in psychology but for me this is a human issue. No one is immune from feeling insecure or fearing rejection based on how they show up in the world. So, if you’ve struggled with that, this might be the place for you.

Let me start with this simple fact: you ARE enough! You are good enough. You are strong enough. You are worthy enough! You are more amazing than you realize and I would like to invite you to come along with me in growing your appreciation for yourself. The journey to loving yourself and caring for yourself in a compassionate way — let’s call it living THE RADD LIFE. So if you’re down, let’s do it! Watch out world! Here we come!