I have a hard time with compliments; I can’t receive a compliment well to save my life. How hard is it to say “thank you” then stop talking? I can take the most sincere statement and make it weak.
Because I’ve been called on the carpet for not being able to receive a compliment (yeah, it’s come up a few times), I’ve actually invented new ways to deflect them. Nice, huh? I’m a true master of the craft.
My best one ever? Some unsuspecting nice person said, “That’s a beautiful dress.” Me: “Oh thanks. I got it on clearance; I shop at cheap places. The color washes me out a bit, but it was the last one on the rack.”
Wow. In one swift move, I devalued myself AND the other persons opinion.
So I’m making a pack with myself to learn to take a compliment. Self-esteem is the acceptance of, respect for, self confidence and satisfaction that you have in yourself as a person.
Fortunately, there are so many ways we display low self-esteem. (Take heart! You too can find a new way to be Debbie Downer!)
Below are some common self-esteem hazards. Whether you’re a student, or not, our self-worth affects us all. Find your “hang up” and start working on it today. (Courtesy of Inner-Work Counseling & Publishing.)
1. Self-blame, self-criticism, or constantly putting others down through guilt, blame, shame, or faultfinding. Finding forgiveness difficult. This is MY stumbling block: self-criticism. Why is it so hard to take a little praise? Part of me worries that by accepting a compliment, I will seem prideful. The other part of me worries that now I will be measured against this higher standard and will fail miserably. Don’t I sound like a blast to be around?? I can compliment others quite sincerely. But receive a compliment? Forget it. So I’m going to start small: I’m going to simply say thank you then shut my mouth and tell myself that I deserve to hear nice things.
2. Over or underachieving, -eating, -working, -doing, etc. Ahhhh, yes, trying to prove your worth with good ol’ actions. Because being YOU isn’t awesome enough. Who told you you weren’t great enough just being you — not “perfect you” or “lazy slug you” — just you? Whomever that was, they lied to you. Most likely they had bad self-esteem (see number 1) and they brought you down with them. If you’re an over-achiever, practice the art of letting someone else have the limelight. You may find that it’s nice to relax a little. If you’re an underachiever, what are you afraid of, success? Lemme guess – one time, you tried and failed and someone (or yourself) never let you forget it. So what? So you didn’t succeed the first time at something? Here’s what makes you awesome: Not quitting.
3. Playing the victim, rationalizing that outside circumstances are the causes of your problems. I know a couple of people who are permanent victims. Why? Because that way they never have to own up and say “Sorry, I was wrong.” That takes guts. Realizing you messed up is one thing; owning it is another. A few weeks ago I wrote about perfectionism. If this one is your struggle, you may want to check out that blog now.
4. Not taking responsibility for your own life; turning power over to another to make decisions for you, then feeling victimized if the results are not to your liking. Weird… I could’ve sworn I blogged about this too in How to Say No Without Stomping Your Foot. Read it, love it, live it.
5. Taking too much responsibility for the lives of others, dominating and making decisions for them. Holy moley! I just wrote about this too in a blog about boundaries. Weeeird. Go read it. Seriously. Right now. Go!
6. Fear of change and reluctance to take risks. Or too much change, taking dangerous, unwise risks. This one boils down to having respect for yourself. Respect that you have the ability to take a chance and succeed. Respect that you don’t need to take some risks just to prove your self worth. Neither end of this spectrum is benefiting you. Both conquering fear of risks or realizing hiding behind high-risk behavior takes courage to walk away from.
7. Constant negativity or being so optimistic that reality is denied. Reality is a beautiful middle ground. It’s nice here in reality – you should try it. This one is all about truth. What is the TRUTH of the statements you say out loud or say silently to yourself. I was recently told I’m uncaring. The old, insecure me would’ve believed that. The new trying-to-improve-daily self says “Am I truly uncaring? No, I’m not. I care for many people in many different areas of my life and work. So the truth is: Sometimes I ACT uncaring and that’s something I need to work on, but it doesn’t define me as a person.”
8. Reacting to others with extreme emotion or no emotion. Did you know drama actually is an addiction? Reacting with extreme emotion or with very little emotion is a way of dulling the “realness” of the moment. Reacting to situations with appropriate emotions in the actual moment is healthy. You can show emotion whenever you want – just make it a realistic outpouring of real emotion, not just a means for attention.
9. Boastfulness, lying, embellishing, exaggerating, and overbearing behavior around others. We’re human; we tend to want recognition. That’s normal. Putting others down or beefing your stories up to make you look even better is a sure sign of a low self-worth. Amazing how we all know someone who loves to talk about themselves and how awesome they are doing in life and assume they have a great self-esteem when it’s quite the opposite…
10. Inability to maintain integrity during interactions with others. What’s integrity? It’s being honorable. It’s adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty (according to Webster). Do you find yourself changing your mind during a conversation? Can’t stand up for what you believe? Start to lie? Easily get bullied into changing your mind? I wrote a little about this in my blog about boundaries and letting your yes be yes and no be no. You know you don’t actually HAVE to listen to someone’s opinion. You don’t HAVE to engage in a debate. You don’t HAVE to defend yourself. Freeing isn’t it?
11. Demanding to be “right,” needing to have agreement or have your own way most of the time, or constantly acquiescing to the will and opinions of others. The second definition of integrity is “the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.” Now that I think about it, go re-read the Anger Mismanagement blog.
12. Constantly comparing yourself to others, thereby feeling inferior or superior. You know the only thing you should be compared to? The you that you were yesterday. That’s it. We don’t all have the same fingerprint, so why would we all need to look alike. Do I want to look like Elizabeth Hurley? Of course I do. Will I ever? No. I’ve accepted that and now I compare my self to me. Just me. Read my first blog about perfectionism if you want more on this topic.
13. Black/white, either/or thinking; e.g., believing that a person is either good or bad based on rigid standards of behavior. Who died and left you judge? See, at one point in our lives someone forgave us for something stupid, hurtful or mean we did to them. So why can’t you extend the same amount of grace to them? None of us are so perfect that we stand to judge others. If you are, please submit a blog to GCC about how you got so perfect because I haven’t met someone without their share of baggage yet.
14. Having pervasive deep-seated feelings of fear, terror, or panic. You don’t have to live this way. You don’t deserve to. Nothing you have done or had done to you justifies living in fear. Soon I’m going to write a blog about fear and we’ll walk through this one together. Meanwhile, go find someone – a trusted friend, a parent, a teacher or counselor – that can reaffirm you that you’re strong and smart and can handle life without fear.
15. Speaking with lots of shoulds, oughts, could haves, and yes-buts. Expectations, obligations and choices. They are three vastly different things. Read last week’s blog about boundaries for more clarification. And stop should-ing all over yourself.
16. Interpreting the hurtful words or actions of others as proof of your unworthiness. This is the same idea that I use in parenting all the time: “Just because you made a bad choice doesn’t make you a bad person. It means you made a mistake – you yourself aren’t a mistake.” That’s true with my 6 year old and it’s true with YOU.
Only YOU can make something true about yourself. Remember Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Why have you handed over all that power to someone else? Go get it back. It’s time.