Why can we not just say thank you and move on? This is something I have been thinking about for some time. I like to give compliments but I am useless at receiving them.
Why are compliments hard to accept?
These are actual compliments I have given in the last few weeks and the responses I have received:
“You look gorgeous in this photo”
“oh, it’s probably the filter”
“I love your top”
“What? This? It was the only thing that didn’t need ironing this morning”
“Your kids are great, what a credit they are to you”
“oh believe me, you haven’t seen them when they’re at home”
“I loved that post you wrote”
“oh really, I have just read it through and am embarrassed by all the mistakes in there”
“Well done on raising awareness in so many different ways”
“oh I don’t know about that, just doing what I can”
“Your skin is amazing, I am so jealous”
“Oh I think it’s just the light the photo was taken in”
Why can we not just say thank you and accept the compliment? Why are we so dismissive when people compliment us? And I hope my friends quoted above recognise themselves and continue reading – this is for you, ladies.
Year of Yes
I am just as guilty, or I was, until I read Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes. Seriously, ladies and gents, if you only read one book this year, please make it this one. I read so many books but this one had “a-ha” moment after “a-ha” moment for me.
In the book, Shonda talks about receiving an award along with many other amazing women and watching as every one of them brushed off their achievements.
It’s a common activity amongst us. We appear to feel that if we just say thank you, we will come across as arrogant, conceited or maybe, just maybe, people may think that God forbid, we actually like/love ourselves.
This also tied in with the Brene Brown Daring Greatly book (and her course I am working through) about being vulnerable.
Brene talks about that fear of making ourselves vulnerable and facing rejection. If we just say thank you, are we scared that someone may have a negative opinion of us?
So I have been giving it a shot. I have been trying to just say thank you.
At a coffee shop the other day, the barista stopped me to say what gorgeous eyes I had and instead of my usual “amazing what make up can do” or “it’s dark in here, they’re not that hot out in the real world” or even “if only the rest of me looked that good, hey?” (and yes, I really have said all of these), I just smiled and said “thank you”. This was a very public compliment and they can be harder to accept because other people can hear. Of course, I then ducked my head and tried to avoid eye contact with anyone until my coffee arrived.
“I just don’t know how you do it”
This is the one. The phrase as a mum of children with special needs, I hear quite regularly, and I know that many of us chat about it on social media. More often than not, we brush it off with a dismissive “oh I’m not that special” or a “so many others have it so much worse than me” comment. We even moan to each other about it and say how much it drives us insane. Why? Why do we hate it?
We often forget that what we do each day for our children isn’t the norm, so we dismiss people when they say what a great job we are doing.
The majority of us do know someone who has it much worse than us; however, that shouldn’t take away from what we have to deal with.
This is not a competition. Do you really want to win the prize for “Who has it the worst?” I know I don’t.
For the past two weeks, I have been swallowing the automatic dismissive response when anyone gives me a compliment and just saying thank you. It has been hard, I have felt hugely vulnerable but at the same time, it has been immensely rewarding.
Shonda talks about how rejecting a compliment negates the other person’s opinion. What they hear, when you sweep aside their view, is “I know you think you’re right but you’re wrong.” To make “just saying thank you” easier, I have been saying to myself that I am telling other people they are right. We all like to be right, don’t we?
The big consideration for me though has been the thought of the next generation of families coming through. In her book, Shonda also talks about breaking through the glass ceiling – seriously, go buy the book. In the special needs field, we still have a glass ceiling to break for future generations.
So when you want to dismiss a compliment, here’s a few things to consider:
- If I am constantly telling a practitioner or a commissioner that parenting a child with special needs is not actually that difficult, am I helping the next generation? What if every practitioner and commissioner believes me?
- If I am constantly dismissing my role in raising awareness, am I not also dismissing in some way how important that awareness is?
- If I make light of the work involved in finding a secondary school for my son, am I perhaps unwittingly telling another parent, who is struggling with the same thing, to just suck it up and get on with it? Can I just share that this is a total nightmare for me at the moment and having a school reject my child hurt me – a lot! So if you want to compliment me on getting back up and continuing to look, then feel free to do so and I will say thank you, thereby confirming you are, of course, right. Win win!
Accepting compliments has been fabulous. It has bolstered my self esteem and put a spring into my step.
As Shonda describes it, “I am proud of my badassery” and if Shonda says that is a real word, who am I to question her? I will just compliment her on a much needed addition to my dictionary and she can just say thank you.
Just Say Thank You
So, please, join me and try this for a month. Be proud of your badassery. When you receive the next “I don’t know how you do it”, “I love that top” or “You rock”, just pause for a second. Then take a deep breath and just say thank you.
Don’t forget to sign up for updates: