Does this ever happen to you? Someone comes up to you and says, “Look at you, you look great!” or “I love that top on you,” or “What a beautiful smile you have.” And you’re pleased for a moment, maybe you even say thank you. And then… you start disagreeing with them. “I didn’t get any sleep last night, can’t you see the bags under my eyes?” Or, “This old thing? I just didn’t have any clean clothes.” Or, “The better to eat you with, my dear.”
Okay, maybe you wouldn’t say the last one, but how often do you catch yourself arguing with a compliment? Many of us shake off compliments with the same vigor with which we’d slap a spider off our arm.
The truth is, most of the time we don’t believe the compliment. We don’t believe that we’re worthy of praise. Some of us (I’m looking at you, Midwesterners) even believe that accepting a compliment is a moral failing that will jinx us for life, dooming us to that special ring of hell filled with narcissists, show-offs, and people who never call their mother.
Face it. Many of us have a huge disconnect between how others perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. If we have wrinkles, we assume people think we’re old and no fun and not beautiful anymore, even if the person in front of us is telling us the opposite. If we’re fat, we think that’s all anyone sees and responds to, and that we’re not entitled to feel sexy and brilliant, even if our friends, lovers, and colleagues see us as the best thing since the burrito.
It doesn’t matter how many times someone pounds on the door, yelling “STELL-LA! I love you!!!” if we’re hiding inside the house with our headphones on listening over and over again to the same old song, the one whose refrain is: “I’m not good enough, no one could love me.” We’ll never hear them.
It’s weird. You have to believe that a compliment is true, at least unconsciously, before you can accept it. Otherwise, it rolls like water off a raincoated duck.
Accepting a compliment gracefully and believing it isn’t easy if we’ve always done the opposite. But it is possible. Creating this new habit requires three things:
1. Notice what your underlying belief is, specifically why it is you don’t believe good things about yourself.
2. Replace that belief with a healthier and more loving one.
3. Give yourself affectionate compliments to practice receiving them well from others.
Of course if you want to learn how to do this and more while hanging out with a bunch of awesome women for an amazing weekend, join me for the June Love Your Body Retreat in Sonoma from Fri-Sun, June 21-23. $549 includes everything but your transportation. Let me know if you’re interested! Kimber@kimberyoga.com