Since we are rapidly coming up on what my daughter’s friends call Singles Awareness Day (because nothing makes you feel as acutely aware that you’re single than Valentine’s Day, you know?), I thought I’d do a short series on loving yourself.

My friend N often says, “The only proper response to a compliment is, ‘Thank you.'”

Think about the last time someone complimented you. How did you respond?

“You look nice today.”

Did you say, “Thank you“? or did you say, “Oh, no, I have this huge zit right here!” or “My hair wouldn’t do what I wanted it to” or “I hate this shirt” or “I feel fat today” or some other self-deprecating comment?

Do you know what you’re doing when you do that?

You are telling yourself that you don’t like yourself very much.

You know the affirmations we’ve talked about recently?

This would be the opposite of that.

Affirmations try to counter your negative self-talk, and not accepting compliments, in fact denying them, can undo all the work you’re trying to do with the affirmations.

Back in November, someone I know casually on another internet forum connected to me on Facebook. While we were having a conversation about how we knew each other, he said, “you were always the scary smart one.”

WTF?

“Scary smart”?

This guy is an attorney with a pretty impressive resume and rapier wit, so, you know, he’s not dumb himself.

And I know a couple of scary smart people like L, a math professor and researcher that excels at taking complex concepts and explaining them to the average person. Or S, the tax attorney that creates complicated spreadsheets to analyze test data or housing and investment trends for fun. 

I posted on my wall, well, here’s part of the conversation [I removed identifying stuff]:

Me: Someone just called me “scary smart”; I’m not sure I can live up to that.



Now, you expect your mother and sister to say complimentary stuff, but both T and G are themselves very smart, educated women whom I respect.

While I’ve been reexamining some of my inner work stuff lately, I realize that I totally do this. I mean, I deflect compliments.


M has said some very nice things about me lately, and my first, immediate emotional response is to deflect it, to deny it, to diminish it.


But by doing that, not only am I disrespecting myself, I’m disrespecting him and his opinions. 


And every time we deflect a compliment, we are saying to the person giving the compliment, “I don’t trust your judgment.”


So, from now on, when someone compliments you, how you look, how you dress, how smart you are, your parenting, your compassion, your kindness, your organizational skills, WHATEVER,  just say, “Thank you.”


And then stop for a moment and really think about what they said; take it in; LISTEN to it; repeat it to yourself; write it in your journal; do something that helps you remember it.


Because the old saw about loving yourself before you can love someone else? Totally true.


 But sometimes looking at ourselves through someone else’s eyes can help us get there.