Compliments are gifts

DC8AFD29-C350-490F-81F3-F39C0DC9DEEE When you work in the helping occupations, there are those clients you meet with, who give you lots of material for future work with other clients. Along with fodder for your blog. Today, I had one of those clients.

This particular client has a lot of self esteem issues and many of our meetings are centered around improving her self esteem, not verbally/mentally beating herself up and learning to take praise and compliments.  Each of these topics are blog posts or at least a chapter in a book by themselves, at the very least. Despite all the progress she’s made, as with all of us, old habits are hard to die and when one least expects it, they can came roaring back into the center of one’s life.

Compliments and learning to accept them can be a difficult task to master for many people. It’s been my experience over the decades, both personally and professionally, that it is much harder for women to master than men.  Which, one would think in the 21st century, we would be further along with this skill set than we are and it’s not only in American Society. Since I live in the USA, I can only approach this issue from my own societies perspectives and beliefs.

Why do I refer to it as a habit and a skill set? There’s actually a simple answer. These 2 areas are extremely interlinked and often work together to raise and improve how we view ourselves and our physical, mental and emotional health. Having a positive view of our self worth and esteem can improve all aspects of our lives. You can also use it to be more productive, find your direction and easier to pursue your goals.

Today, I decided to take this different tactic with my client and asked her to view “compliments as a gift.” She looked surprised and curious, when I responded to her questioning herself regarding, “why do I struggle with accepting and believing compliments?” I further explained that compliments are nothing but a verbal gift and as with all gifts you should accept them graciously. Obviously, if there’s no sincerity in this gift as with all gifts, one should be weary, but most folks are quite sincere with their compliments.

I learned about this definition of compliments many years ago at a training I attended and loved it. I see a lot of truth regarding this issue in my work with others, along with being a people watcher. It’s always amazed me how people react to a compliment, no matter what the reason for the compliment. Which can range from the recipient being embarrassed and uncomfortable to those who are comfortable and pleased with it.

The trainer stated in this training that “ a gift is a gift. We generally don’t respond to a physical present when it is handed to us the same way, think about why that is? Think about why we perceive a verbal gift any different? There’s truly no difference. If you are worthy of someone putting a gift in your hands, why do we often deflect one stated to us?”

I do have an answer and observation as to why people struggle with compliments, especially American women. Our society, even in the 21st century still gives females mixed messages.  Though, that is changing for the positive, despite the tug a war that still goes on.  It’s all around us, the media, families, schools all tell us, you’re not good enough, everything about you needs repair or change, you’ll never be good enough ….. that last one always makes me ask “good enough for what or who?” It’s up there with that magical and mystical “they.” The they who are in charge, say so and make decisions.

I, myself have always enjoyed giving compliments and I like receiving them as well. I made it  goal of mine many years to give at least one compliment, if not more a day. These have to be sincere and genuine, otherwise it’s not real. Whether it be friend, family, coworker or stranger I don’t hesitate to spread them.

How do you handle compliments? If you struggle with them, do you know why? Would you like to be more comfortable with accepting them? Contact me for assistance.