Handling Compliments

As the mother to 3 girls and 1 step-son, I feel as a parent that they should know how to handle compliments.  They get a lot of them!  Many adults don’t know how to handle compliments either.  Here’s a simple way to deal with them:  Say, “Thank you.”  That’s it.  No excuses, no talking them out of it, no going on and on about how great you are or not great you are…just say “Thank you.”

I wrote this post because I recently received two compliments from two people and I almost brushed them off.

We tend to lock onto the negativities in our lives and rush right past the “good stuff.”

One compliment was from one of my marriage and family therapy professors.  Unsolicited, he commented that I’m resilient; a wonderful role model for my kids, and my kids are lucky to have me as a mom (the subject was attachment theory as it applied to my life which morphed into the compliment).  But…instead of blowing it off and saying “yeah, yeah…” and onto the next thing, I breathed that in.  I’ve faced a lot of criticism (divorce and remarriage opens up a whole lotta people’s judgments.  By the way, the worst criticism a mother can receive is about how bad she is as a mother) and it was honoring to have my MFT professor acknowledge my strengths as a mother and as a person (besides my husband who is my number one fan!).

This same day, a therapist friend and I were talking about parenting.  “You’re a really good mother, Nicole.”  How many women would let that slip by them and move the conversation back to the other person?  Hands up!  But I paused, took a breath, and told them thank you and that it meant a lot to me to hear them say that.

As women, we tend to take validation or criticism from others to heart–especially criticism.  It can take a long time to know ourselves well enough that whatever someone says about us doesn’t rock us!  Our self-esteem and self-concept must be built up in order to be at this place.  I’m reminded of the people in the entertainment business–they hear all kinds of criticism and compliments–but most of them don’t let it get to them (Taylor Swift just shakes it off!).

But compliments, if they’re sincere and heartfelt, are like bits of love and appreciation.  They’re positive and supportive and uplifting.  They’re gifts to your spirit.  Saying thank you and being present to what is said is a way to express and feel your gratitude for the niceties of life.

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