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."

"Thank you."

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.
Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I completely understand and have blogged on the same thing. It's the hardest thing to simply say "Thank you". I always feel the need to answer why I look like I do that day. I try to catch myself before the long explanation comes out and simply say "thank you" because the person wasn't looking for an explanation of my feelings.
    2061 days ago
    THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL BLOG ON HOW WE CAN ALL WORK ON OURSELVES AND GIVE VALUE TO OURSELVES!!!! I struggle with this lots, too. I think it's an underlying issue for all who have gained weight....I really, really like this blog!
    2062 days ago
    I am the same way! I get all retarded when someone says something like that to me. I want to run and put my head in a hole like an ostrich. lol!
    2062 days ago
    Girl, I think it's time to get some new pants! emoticon

    2062 days ago
  • TIBI183
    i think most of us are having problems with taking compliments. Whenever someone told me that I am looking good that day I know at least 5 reasons why that can't be true. I guess we don't only have to learn to exercise (more) and to eat better, but we also have to learn that there are people out there who really mean it when they say nice things to us. I have been following your blog and you have come a long way and I am sure you friends have noticed all the positve changes and they truely mean it when they make compliments.
    2062 days ago
    I wonder what I have to do to get your blog to regularly be a Popular blog on SparkPeople. I think many more people should get the opportunity to enjoy your humor and your wisdom as you continue on this journey. I really enjoyed this one. It is hard to get out of your own head and just really listen to what someone else is saying.

    And that is a good friend.

    And you look pretty today too. :-)
    2062 days ago
    Many years ago i had a colleague tell me I didn 't know how to take a compliment. His comment stung for a while but finally I realized that he was right. Most people don't give compliments unless they really mean it. Just say thanks an enjoy the moment.
    2062 days ago
    2062 days ago
    I think a lot of us have this problem. I also like to remind myself what it takes to give a compliment. You're opening yourself up to another person and saying, "I'm noticing you" without fully knowing how they're going to respond to that information. I like that your friend told you 3 times, just to make sure you heard. :)
    2062 days ago
    It's a very challenging thing, to step back from the self deprecating mindset of "you look pretty today" "oh, right, I managed to camouflage my fat gross self in this outfit, woo freaking hoo." To "you look nice today" "thank you." But it's important to let that in! See/hear the good stuff, not just the bad. And remember, most people are so focused on themselves you could have your skirt tucked into your underwear and still half of them wouldn't notice!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2062 days ago
  • MISSB8604
    I seriously cannot tell you how much this blog spoke to me. You and I are very similar in this situation and have a very similar mind set. Just know that you're not alone in this and that you DESERVE the compliments that people are giving you No, you probably can't understand why someone would say something and you don't know what they're really trying to get at, but you DO deserve it.

    You keep your head up and you keep on keepin' on.
    2062 days ago
    Binderclips are a good problem to have!! I can't wait until I can get me some binderclips. emoticon

    You have a good friend.

    Be good to yourself as well.
    2062 days ago
    First I would like to tell you that your friend is a very good friend. You are obviously a wonderful person to have friend like that in your life. :)

    Second I totally understand where you are coming from. I used to have a HUGE problem receiving compliments. It is a little easier now. It will get that way for you too.

    Third You are such a wise woman. I love your blogs.

    Have a great day!
    2062 days ago
    You are so right! It is difficult not to think that EVERYONE is thinking about, talking about, laughing about your weight when you don't feel good about yourself. I've been there...and probably am still there many times. It's tough when you're not only battling your weight but all the esteem issues that come with it.

    But, in the end, we're doing it for ourselves. To feel good, to feel healthy, to live happily. Anyway, I find you very motivating and interesting! Take that as a compliment ;)
    2062 days ago
    You can do anything you set out to do and I like your your blog it's a good one because most people wouldn't admit to it that's the first step I know
    My first step was admitting I was terrified of other people and was afraid to be around them I had to have someone with me I hated school for the same thing I was always scared and to shy to talk because of it
    2062 days ago
  • MEMEME75
    I have trouble taking compliments as well sometimes without feeling like I have to give some big long explanation for it.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2062 days ago
    2062 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

More Blogs by GOLOPTIOUS