How I Have Trouble Processing Compliments
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
You look really good today."
A friend of mine said that to me yesterday. He's usually pretty stingy with his compliments. I was in my dressy work clothes and things had gotten crazy so I had pulled my hair back into ponytail. He also knew about the incident where a different friend had told me that my personality makes me pretty and he's knows about my weight loss and the struggles I have. He's one of the two people in my "real life" who know my actual weight.
You know what my response was?
"That's because I'm still in my work clothes. Also, these pants are way too big. Look. See this binderclip***? It's holding my pants to the belt. I need new clothes but I don't want to get them until I lose more weight. And the bottom of the pant leg got snagged on my shoe the other day and ripped a little. See?"
He waited until I was done. Then he looked me square in the eye and said it again.
Once again I went off about how I've been working hard but it's hard to eat right all the time and how I really needed to win my bet with Fire Man and how I'd had oatmeal and blueberries that morning but lunch hadn't been as healthy even though I had turkey bacon.
He stopped me, looked me in the eye again and quietly said "Take the compliment. You look really nice today."
I realized something. I honestly don't know how to handle compliments. I mean, I hear them. I hear what people say. But the words twist in my head. When he said I looked good I immediately decided that he was talking about my clothes and style, not me. I just KNEW that he was trying to make me feel better after the earlier incident and that he didn't really mean that I looked good. Instead of saying thank you and smiling, I started talking about things I could do better or other changes I need to make. I heard him, but I didn't listen or process the information.
Then I thought about the friend's comment from earlier. He never said that I wasn't pretty. Never. In fact, if I think about it I know that he thinks I'm pretty. He's said it before. When I asked him, he talked about how being pretty was superficial and how being nice and carrying yourself in a certain way was something that made me beautiful and not just pretty.
Because I was looking for a superficial answer, I completely misunderstood him. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that because he was "avoiding" answering the question then he must not want to hurt my feelings by telling me that he thinks I'm ugly.
I'm an idiot.
But I'm getting better about it.
The problem with this weight loss journey I'm taking is that I spent so many years breaking myself down. When people around me were whispering, I convinced myself that they were talking about me and my weight. When people were "too busy" to hang out with me, I just KNEW it was because they hated me. I spent so many years enveloped in self-doubt and self-pity that it's so hard to break out of the pattern.
Mostly I've realized that when people whisper, it's because they're talking about something that makes them feel stupid or insecure. When they're too busy, it has nothing to do with me - they either really are too busy or they aren't feeling up to it or they don't really like whatever is planned.
When people compliment me, I need to take that compliment and I need to be thankful for it because people don't do that all the time. In order for a person to give a compliment, they need to have noticed a change or noticed something about you that stands out to them. If they didn't mean it, they'd stay silent.
People aren't generally mean. They don't give you a compliment in order to make you feel badly. They don't normally laugh behind your back. If they do, then they aren't the type of person who's opinion matters anyway. They're just insecure losers.
So, the next time someone gives me a compliment no matter how big or how small, I'm going to smile, say thank you, and know in my heart that they mean it. I'm not going to pick it apart to see if they meant something else or start talking about things I hate about myself or changes I still need to make. I'm not going to go home and dissect every word they said to try to figure out how they were mocking me.
I'm just going to know that the person must be awesome because I'm a frakking RockStar and only awesome people notice that!
***Yes, I actually use a binderclip to hold a few pairs of my pants up. On one pair of pants, I use it to attach the pants to my belt. On another pair that doesn't have belt loops, I fold the pants in the front and use the binderclip to secure the fold.