Accepting Compliments

Mac Davis penned the famous song about humility, “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way”. Now true Mac, how true.

Mac was certainly being cheeky in the song, but the balance between owning our strengths and having an inflated ego can be hard. Especially for women. Well, especially for women who have been socialized to believe that to state one’s strength is to be ego and “un-ladylike”.  I was told “nobody likes a braggart.” I spent a good part of my life hating everything I did and am, and overcompensated by being overly confident, but deep inside I felt like a fraud, an impostor and never good enough.

Clearly if you follow this blog you know those days are done.  I love myself, or at least know myself and love the things I am becoming. I just watched one of my videos. It is actually hard watching me at that size. I was good looking of course (see, overconfident) but it’s hard to remember that I carried around all that extra baggage, both physically and emotionally. Before I carry on, check out this quick video to see what I mean:

It’s not that I was not lovable at this size, but I don’t feel like this person anymore. I am evolving as a person, and I can’t wait to continue growing (personal growth, size is still going down!)

Today at what I am dubbing Feminist Camp, the facilitators had us write positive things about others in the group and then we all got our sheets back and had to read the nice things. I call this the warm fuzzy game and I like it because I get to say nice things about people, and I always enjoy hearing compliments! I watched though as others struggled with the exercise. They had NO problem giving compliments, but reading what other’s think our strength is can be challenging.  Some hand’s trembled as they read their compliments and in a few cases they found something that was new to them. This is called the “hidden self”, the part others can see that we cannot.

Is this a woman thing or a people thing? I have seen this exercise with men as well and they are not comfortable, but I often think it’s because they already know they are great and don’t need the confidence boost, but maybe I am stereotyping.

It is hard to take a compliment at times, especially genuine ones. I could have killed on stage and come off and someone says “great set” but unless it was my best set ever, I always go “oh thanks, yeh I screwed up that one part.” Always. Do I actually feel that way or do I think that taking the compliment makes me look vain? A lovely woman named Heather Hurst who is new to comedy in the past three years has role modeled this excellently. After a good set I’d say “I really liked ____” and she’d say “thanks.” Oh, no “thanks, BUT”…?  As women, we seem to want to use the but after the thanks to modify or minimize the compliment. I was taken aback at first, who doesn’t minimize their achievements??  Oh, healthy people!  Now I try and say thanks and usually mean it.

The other problem is that at times people may seem suspicious of compliments or read more into it than was meant. I am beyond guilty of giving a compliment that seems like a backhanded one, aka an insult, but that’s not the case. Once I complimented a male comedian and said “I think that was the best you have ever done” and he immediately went outside to call me a C-word because he thought it was an insult. I thought I was complimenting and he thought I was insulting. Perceptions eh?  Also this guy is totally a douche who calls everyone a C-word.

Finally as women we tend to see the one negative thing, or can let the negative things outweigh the positive. Great things can be happening around us, but there will be people who want to bring us down, or who can’t enjoy our successes with us for whatever reason. These toxic people just have to go, but if you have the internet and are at all public, then trolls will exist. I remember when one of the most amazing women I know, Nikki Laframboise, started Elements.  This is a glamping site, which is glamorous camping. I have not spent the night but have seen the grounds and it looks amazing. Her launch was great, local politicians and community members came out as did friends and family. She has an entire online community of women supporting her, but some internet trolls started commenting how dumb this idea was and who the hell did this woman think she was? Everyone has an opinion about everything, and this amazing woman had to deal with the jerks and even with all the support, and the fact that she was 3/4 sold out BEFORE launch date, it affected her slightly.  Even someone I read as larger than life can be thrown by the negative comments.

This is why we need to find out talents and talk about them. This is why we need to accept our compliments and not read anything into them. We need to stop minimizing our accomplishments and stop this discomfort with people saying they are doing a good job. It takes four compliments to get rid of one negative statement. Four. Are we going to wait for others to give us those compliments, or perhaps we should map out our strengths and be proud of ourselves.  This way when a negative comment comes, we can wash it away with our inner confidence and when a compliment comes our way, we say thanks, enjoy it and move on.

Be nice to yourself, because in the end, waiting for others to validate us will leave us saying, Thanks, BUT….

Also floss.


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