We are here today to talk, again, about compliments — further exploring why people refuse to take them, even though they really want to.
We are so mysterious and paradoxical, us humans — always wanting things that we no longer want as soon as we get them. Intriguing beings we are.
Usually, I write weaponized humility in stories where I go way off the rails — then think it all matters so much that I need to publish it all together in a 14-minute story that contains 3 stories. 🤦🏻♀️
Imagining what Albert Einstein would say if we were discussing this over coffee, I can picture him laughing at me. He would surely inform me that if I can’t explain this concept simply, I don’t understand it well enough to explain it to my reader.
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. — Albert Einstein
So here, we will take a more simple, yet still thoughtful approach.
We yearn for appreciation yet recoil from it. We seek compliments, yet we do not receive them. Compliments make us feel uncomfortable because we do not trust them.
Compliments make people uncomfortable
I was chatting with a fellow writer on one of their stories today and after having quite a meaningful exchange, I thanked him for his magic.
Then, I started thinking about a feeling I noticed upon hitting enter.
I gave him my compliment because it was true. He does have a kind of magic that brings harmony to topics of division.
I make an art out of acknowledging the good in people and the world because it makes my life better.
I do it because I love for people to know how their gifts shine upon the world. I do it because what I focus on, I intensify and because more people should know how great they are — because I like that.
I like knowing my value and I like others to know theirs too. I like the way people shine when they know their light is reaching others. I like the way I shine.
I want people to know the great things I see in them because they deserve to know.
Because we could all express our appreciation a little more often and, if we did, the world would be better. We would all be better. Happier. More fulfilled.
I give people compliments because I wish to express my belief in the people I meet along my path and do so in a meaningful way. I believe in people and all they can be and I want them to know that I see the beauty in their masterpiece. And, I think they like knowing.
So, I practice the art of appreciation. I practice it because I want to — because it is simply how I live.
As anyone else who knows this art could tell you, people wanting compliments is not enough to ensure that they will receive them.
Sometimes, when you compliment someone, you get this little insecure nudge that the person you are complimenting feels uncomfortable. Either they will outwardly deflect the compliment or they will ignore it. But most people do not acknowledge or receive it.
We live in a dominant culture that fuels competition, hierarchy, manipulation and even greed. Perhaps this has rendered us guarded and untrusting.
Accepting love and appreciation requires trust
Perhaps we have been so brutalized by the culture of domination — the culture of stepping on the toes of our fellows to get somewhere — that our societal wounds have rendered us incapable.
We are incapable of the trust required to accept the acknowledgment, acceptance and love that we wish to receive.
We cannot accept compliments because we focus on what axes people may have to grind or what people they may have to please. We excessively think about what they want from us instead of what they may wish to give.
So I invite you, reader, to pay attention to the compliments you give. Notice how people respond. And more importantly, notice how you respond.
Many of you will notice some of the feelings and tones I have described.
Maybe, they told you not to brag when you were a child. Maybe, you think everyone has an agenda. Maybe, you don’t take compliments because you don’t think you deserve them (you do) or you are not used to receiving them.
Whatever the cause, I invite you to consider exploring the art of appreciation. Consider that it goes both ways. Appreciation is not only for giving, but it is for receiving. If not, why would the giving matter?
Appreciating is not just a thing we do — it is a way of life.
The art of appreciation
In closing, I will share a few ideas and real-life applications that have helped me on my journey of appreciation.
- I make an art out of appreciation. I write letters to people about what I appreciate in them. Sometimes I give them my notes and sometimes I don’t. But appreciation works both ways so the more I give it, the more comfortable I am receiving it.
- Watch your responses when others give you compliments. Perhaps you respond to their compliment with a compliment, minimize it, or ignore it all together. But if you find yourself out of the posture of receivership when someone gives you compliments, chances are you will notice this more and more and become mindful of how you respond. If accepting compliments shows to be more difficult than you expected, try giving yourself a general response to practice. It will grow all the time. Anything along the following lines will suffice:
Thank you for the compliment, I appreciate you noticing.
Thank you for your kind words.
I appreciate you noticing my efforts.
or even simply…
Thank you for the compliment.
- Appreciate the people who piss you off. It may sound weird to some for me to suggest appreciating the people who you do not appreciate. But I assure you that if you honestly try to find something you appreciate in them, you will.
We find what we are looking for in life and the more we look for what we appreciate the more things to appreciate we will find.