So, as I thought about yesterday’s post it occurred to me that I didn’t actually offer any tips or ideas or insights that might help others dealing with similar issues. So this is just a few bullet points of what helped me. Your mileage may vary and believe me I’m not a professional so this is a very idiosyncratic list.
- Train yourself to consciously accept compliments. This is both simpler and much more difficult than it seems. I think so many of us program ourselves (or are programmed) to consider compliments as dangerous because they draw attention to us. We’re afraid that being noticed will bring negative reactions from peers or rivals. It can lead to teasing and other less pleasant reactions. However I think we all need to say “Screw that!” in a loud, confident voice. We need to consciously stop those negative inner critics and allay our fears about the reactions of others and embrace those compliments for what they are – recognition of our efforts and hard work. They are verbal “Atta girls” and need to be treated as such – not as time bombs that might go off unexpectedly producing collateral damage.
- Help others who suffer from the same issues. We all know people who respond in the same way to compliments – they deflect, self-deprecate and psychologically shuffle their feet. A nice, quiet, friendly reminder that they do deserve the “Atta girl” can go a long way towards healing that wound. Listen to what you tell them and then tell yourself the same thing the next time an occasion arises.
- Remember that confidence is not the same as braggadocio. Next time you see a cocky, swaggering, bragging colleague or friend, look into their eyes or really listen to their voice. I’m betting you have someone who is just as fearful and mistrustful of compliments as you are they just process it differently. Try allaying their fears that no one will notice their hard work unless they draw attention to themselves. Help soothe the frightened beast that is convinced no one really appreciates them. Sometimes roaring is simply a way to gain attention. It’s a different approach to the same insecurities and self-doubts.
- Considering that I use Tarot for so many things, naturally I work with them to address this issue too. There are a few ways to do this. One is a simple, straightforward reading on the topic focusing on what the roots of this insecurity are and how to heal it. Another technique that I’ve found useful is to use the cards to have conversations with yourself – your “inner child”, your inner fears, call them what you like. Sit down with a cuppa tea (or bottle of beer if that’s more your style) and ask questions. After each question pull a card and think about what the answer is. Treat it as though it’s an answer from the entity or part of yourself that you questioned. It’s amazing the results you can get from this technique because it bypasses many of our built in defenses and can reveal what we’ve been hiding from ourselves.
- Friends and support networks are also invaluable in overcoming this. I’ve had amazing conversations with friends who will spontaneously volunteer compliments about my skills or knowledge. It’s gratifying and touching to realize that people whose opinions you value see you in such a valued way.
There are lots of other tools out there that can help with this issue. The self-help shelves in bookstores have lots of offerings (well the few brick & mortar bookstores that are left). I’m sure your local library will have some options or can borrow them for you through inter-library loan. Self-help groups and/or counseling can also provide beneficial insights and techniques if that’s your preference. The bottom line is to actively tackle the problem not let it continue to dominate your life. Yes, it can be a cheesy, over-used line in self-help circles but the bottom line is that you are worth it, you do have value. The trick is convincing yourself of that fact.