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.
You are such a highly skilled, caring, professional, with an almost un-human gift to everyone who has been blessed to be a part of your path, no matter how large or small. I had the privilege of working with you while I was on my road to a renovated life. I was overcoming, and in the process of, being cured of Acute Leukemia, had my second child and I called your office for help, and, I needed a lot of help too, but mainly vocational training. I didn’t want my children to look at their mom as an academic failure or someone who gave up, because anyone who knows me knows I am not a quitter. It was a different story as a kid. I was careless and “free”, or so I thought. I never finished high school. I thought just like many other people thought. “I’ll go back and get my GED and I wont be like all the other ones who said they would and didn’t”. I was just like all the other ones and had no idea at 17 years old what life would have in store for me. I gave birth to my oldest child at barely 18 years old and, of course, went to work for minimum wage just to try to get somewhere in life, so I never went back to school or got my GED like my 17 year old self thought. After 14 years of ups and downs floating around in the job world taking any job that would hire me because I had no skills, was when I got sick. Almost dying gave me an entirely different perspective on life and I remember sitting there thinking, “If i had just finished school and done something in the first place, I wouldn’t be in this situation again (for probably the 15th time since high school). I decided one day while I was going through chemotherapy that if I did actually manage to beat Leukemia and live, I would go back and finish what I never finished. I had to start from scratch. By the time 2014 came around and I had an infant daughter, it as time to cash-in my promise to myself. The very beginning wasn’t calling and making an appointment for vocational rehabilitation. It was overcoming the self-esteem issues I was having because of feeling like a “failure”. Then I did some research, and I even went on my own to the Eureka Adult School and took a GED Pre-Test before ever picking up the phone to make an appointment, but eventually I did make an appointment. You were the social worker I was placed with and I am so glad I was. It wasn’t a typical intake. You have so many(which I had no idea back then) life skills to offer and are so much more qualified for the job you do that you really can help clients to the maximum. You gave me a sense of confidence, and hypothetically, you were my bull-dozer. I had a mountain of fear that was hidden, of being afraid of failing again, and all the what-if’s kept haunting me day after day for quite a while. After working with you during my intake, I did leave with a different perspective, and kind of a “wow” moment. I got my GED with a lot of hard work, I went to school to be a Certified Paralegal, graduated with a 3.0 – 3.5 GPA and eventually found a job working as a Paralegal locally, even after being discouraged from going to school for that because I was told that there aren’t that many Paralegal jobs in this area. Against all odds, I started working for an attorney through Sequoia Personnel for $12.50 an hour. Today, I am working full time for the same attorney that I went to work for through Sequoia Personnel and after 20 months of employment and multiple raises and bonuses, I am currently making $17.00 an hour. In my eyes, I have one of the best bosses and teachers anyone could ask for and I am so very fortunate to have found the job I have now. Could I have done that with a different worker? Sure. Maybe. I have a lot of drive but I let fear overcome me. If you were not as skilled as you are, the thought crosses my mind sometimes, “Would I have been able to complete it all and not give up, again?” You know all the resources there are to help people utilize their rehabilitation to the highest level, if they choose, and I am so very thankful to have had the pleasure and privilege of working with you. I enjoy reading your blog because it makes me think and be mindful of my life and how my actions can affect others, good or bad, and makes me want to set more goals and keep transforming into a better version of who I am now. All I can say is, thank you for being you! My reason for posting this here is because my newly renovated life, is a gift. I believe you were the gift I was given and it was up to me to do something with it. Sometimes gifts are given to someone and they wont even know it until later down the road when they’re looking back.
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Thanks for the awesome comments. It was a pleasure working with you and hearing about your continued growth and success!