This used to be a much bigger problem for me and I’ll tell you the two things that helped me get over it. The first was making the conscious choice not to lie and especially not lie when giving compliments. That way I could know how it felt to give a real true compliment and mean it and want the other person to see the thing I was complimenting the way I saw it.
The second was my dad dying. When my dad died a lot of people came up to me and told me they were sorry, or that they thought I was doing a good job of being strong or whatever. And not only could I see in their eyes that they meant it but it was also easier to just say thank you. His death wasn’t mine to diminish and I had nothing to say anyway.
“You’re being really strong.”
You can’t say “I just have to be.” the way you would demure “It was just 10 bucks at the Gap.” The only option is “Thank you.”
It really is something you have to practice. But I think I like it.
I think this is pretty common among women:
growing up, every opinion and feeling I had would get shut down.
“that guy was staring at me” – stop being so full of yourself
“I’m sick” – you don’t look sick
“I have an eating disorder” – you look like you’re a healthy weight
“I can’t work out today” – stop making excuses
“someone honked their horn at me” – it was probably just traffic
So now I wonder sometimes. When I’m sick and I miss class, am I actually sick or was I just being lazy? Am I using my plantar fasciitis as an excuse to not wear high heels and rock climb because I’m a quitter, or is my diagnosed medical condition actually a real thing?
And when I articulate it that way like duh of course I have plantar fasciitis and I cannot do strenuous things to my feet, and if I’m sick then I shouldn’t go to class and I should just trust that I can tell when I’m sick.
But it’s hard. [x]
It’s a sick thing we do to people and especially women. To teach them that their opinions don’t matter. That perhaps whatever they think they’re feeling isn’t real.
So take the compliment because it’s real. And then give one to yourself too. Because a compliment isn’t only a compliment when it’s coming from someone else.