Learning to Take Compliments
I absolutely love kids. Maybe it’s because I grew up as the oldest with only one sibling in the house, but I can’t help but get excited when I come across these adorable, small humans. One of my favorite children has to be my 6 year old cousin, Nehemie. I mean, the kid is adorable (and I’m totally not biased when I say that). From her perfectly active imagination to her larger than life personality, she is definitely one of my favorite people. But beyond the laughs and giggles, there are specific moments between us that I find particularly precious. Moments in which she teaches me a few things.
Like I said, the kid is adorable (again, not biased) so it’s not uncommon to hear people say that when they come across her. “Oh, you’re such a cutie!” and “look at that precious smile!” are just some of the few things a child may hear from time to time. Nonetheless, something that always strikes me is the child’s response. Of course, all children are different, but Nehemie, as well as others that I’ve encountered usually answer with a simple, “thank you.” No explanations. No caveats. No self deprecation. Just a simple “thank you”.
The first time I truly caught the revelation of what this meant really struck me. I began to ask myself, do I know how to do that? Take a compliment? I soon realized that I didn’t.
Like many other women, I grew up with my own batch of insecurities, both physical and otherwise. By God’s grace, I began to grow to love myself past so many of the things that seemed like my downfall, however despite this, I realized that I still didn’t know how to take a compliment and this ultimately meant that I didn’t know how to allow myself to shine without dimming my own light. Someone would compliment me or an accomplishment of mine and I’d usually respond with an “oh stop” or “thanks, I’m alright” or anything else along those lines.
Don’t get me wrong, there is value and beauty in remaining humble (as per fire Kendrick Lamar lyrics). However, I realized that my deflecting compliments wasn’t actually me being humble or modest (something women are falsely taught), it was a method of self deprecation and that was a reflection of my lack of self worth. I couldn’t take a compliment because I didn’t feel worthy of them. I couldn’t just say “thank you” and move on because I didn’t actually believe what the person complimenting me was saying, so I felt the need to demean their comment. Or if I did believe it, I was conditioned to think that accepting it made me cocky. It took quite some time and re-wiring the way I thought of myself, my gifts, and my calling to be able to hear something positive about myself and not even subconsciously try to minimize it.
With that being said, I began to allow myself the space to truly accept a compliment. This meant saying thank you with no doubtful or negative self talk or thoughts attached. This meant accepting it without trying to explain the reasons why it wasn’t really deserved just because the praise felt uncomfortable and unfamiliar. I have to be honest, it’s still a little difficult sometimes, however I’ve learned to combat the instinct to reject positive affirmation with my belief in who I am and who I know God has called me to be.
So if you’re anything like me and have had this struggle before, I challenge you to change it. I challenge you to take yourself back to when you were a child; before the world and society’s opinions tried to change the way you viewed yourself. The next time you’re complimented, put on your 6 year old, big girl or big boy pants, say “thank you” and keep it pushing until the next compliment because you’re bomb and it’s definitely coming. (and I’m totally not biased when I say that either).