Thursday, May 26, 2011

The non-complimentarian

"I love your dress!"
"This old thing?"

"You did such an amazing job today"
"I didn't do anything special"

"You are so beautiful"
*thinks to self* hahaha

Sound familiar?

A wine buddy of mine - the darling Kim - and I once had a conversation that made me realize conversations do not have to go that way.

"You know why I love working with you Kim? Because you're consistently nice."
"Thanks Kristie! I am nice, aren't I?"
"and I love that you can let people compliment you."
"Why shouldn't I? I am nice."

In our society through various ideologies accepting compliments have turned into taboo making us all non-complimentarians (how very Zora Neale Hurston of me) in the process. There's this bond that's being formed over this self loathing. Those that don't join in are sometimes pegged as being full of themselves or being of a narcissistic nature.

Here's the thing though. There's a difference in being a narcissist and being a friend of yourself. Kim is not a narcissist, she will be the first to tell you when she makes a mistake - the first. She won't try to hide it or push it onto someone else, but accepts it as part of herself.

Earlier this week I did an interview with Harriet Brown for Psychology Today and I referenced Kim. I was left thinking about the anecdote again last night after Generation Mirror's 1st Spring Fundraiser (sidenote: that's why I posted this Friday, but backdated it...) due, in part, to the amazing people I got to meet there (there is such a difference between a group of eating disorder activists than a group of people... even my friend Erica commented) and I think a key component is this sense of self-compassion. This ability to accept yourself when you are doing something great that is intrinsically you (ie if someone compliments on a piece of artwork you made - YOU made that artwork --- it didn't just happen) and accept that you will make mistakes and to be okay with that. We're not superheroes, we're humans. But both of those things the praiseworthy parts and the mistakes are you. Not just the negatives.

So allow yourself to be complimented. Odds are that woman that told you you were beautiful was not trying to tell you a knock-knock joke.

1 comment:

  1. Love this!

    When I was sixteen, I won this big playwriting award that involved a trip to NYC and (because "clearly they were wrong about me, because I sucked") I decided I'd "get through" the trip by understanding that they'd chosen my play, not me. (Like you said, how does this good work exist independently of us, exactly?) -- Alas, one of the first things they said to the group of us upon arrival was that they'd chosen us, as writers -- not just our writing. (So much for my plan of action!) That stuck with me, though, and I've worked a lot on being able to accept compliments/ compliment myself. I've gotten to be a big believer in feigning narcissism to balance out insecurity. It's fun to walk over to a table where everyone gets quiet and say something silly but POSITIVE -- like, "Omigosh, were you all talking about how awesome I am AGAIN? Because it's really not necessary for you to discuss it SO OFTEN." It's fun to have a sense of humor in a way that's not at my expense, and it makes it easier -- when people actually do start telling me I'm awesome -- not to disagree with them. ;)

    Speaking of compliments -- great post!


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