Someone paid me a compliment recently, but not the usual “you’re so good”, “you are always so helpful”, “it’s good to have you around”, “Thank you for your time and hard work, it’s really appreciated”.
It was a big, full fat, juicy compliment. One that was really specific. Words that help you understand exactly what that person means and feels. You can recall the event or situation they are referring to and you know specifically what actions of yours they were so impressed by. A compliment that is really to the point, easy to remember and that you know you will remember for a long time. Exactly one of these!
It’s lovely to hear a compliment. Virtually always. Usually it’s unexpected (we really don’t pay each other enough compliments…) and it was indeed unexpected for me. Someone expressed their opinion about me and… it was positive.
It’s not as if it was for the first time. I have heard good opinions about myself in the past, but somehow this time it was different, it made me think.
We can spend a lifetime carefully crafting our image and trying hard to fit in and match some imaginary ideal standard that we tell ourselves is expected. Sometimes we forget who we are, facing challenges and struggles, eventually unable to recognise our true selves. Often looking outside for validation and words of encouragement we lose ourselves in the race to be liked, recognised and noticed… So here I was receiving that holy grail of recognition – a lovely compliment.
What did I do with it? This is ultimately what we need, want and work so hard to get. Did my mind cherish it like a precious gift that I received as one to be honoured and respected?
No! I simply dismissed it. My mind suggested words like “Oh nice, but that’s not true”, “Lovely to hear that but the reality is different”, “This person doesn’t really know that much about me”, “They don’t know what they are talking about”, “They are easily impressed” etc.
Have you ever done that? Someone expressed their honest opinion (one that you were waiting for!) and you… dismissed it.
That’s exactly what I did. By doing it I dismissed them. I judged their words as meaningless and their intentions as dishonest. I judged them. I did not receive the compliment they paid me as a true expression of their feelings. My mind was too busy questioning their words and telling me what “I’m really like”.
When Compliments We Hear Are Worth Nothing
Why do we wait to hear something we don’t even want to believe anyway? What is the value of someone else’s words if I can’t see that value in myself? What is the recognition that comes from outside worth if I can’t respect it? If I think I am unworthy of recognition and love, I will not see it when it is right in front of me, I will not cherish and appreciate any of those gifts, generously offered me by another human being.
It’s not other people who offer us mediocre compliments. It’s us labeling ourselves as mediocre. It’s our thinking that has to change. If I change my thinking I will be able to accept and respect the other human beings too. No matter what anybody says and how honest they are, I have to be ready to accept and believe it. Clearly the harsh and unfair barriers of my personal judgements and limiting believes sometimes stand in the way. The compliments and recognition from others are precious only if we have a capacity to receive them as true.
Don’t wait for others to praise you if you have no ability to praise yourself. Their words will be wasted. This means that if I believe I am not worthy of that compliment I hear, no events outside of me can change that. I am responsible for changing my thinking. Ultimately there is only one person who can accept, acknowledge, include and compliment me… and that’s me.
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