I’ve always thought I’d taught my children well.
Use your manners. Love the Lord. Be nice. Do your homework. Read a good book. Be respectful. And all the other important things kids need to know before they grow into adults and make it out in that big, bad, scary world.
Apparently, there was one thing I forgot. Or maybe didn’t do as well as I would have liked.
Teach them to accept a compliment.
The other day, I was scrolling through the photos on my phone and came across one of our son. He’s the third of four boys, fifth in the line of seven kids. The photo had been taken at the tuxedo shop a few days before prom. Sharp tuxedo, a half smirk on his face, and at the last second, just before hubby snapped the picture to send me (I was at work), the shop owner placed a hat on his head. She insisted Mom would like the hat too.
He looked great. In fact, I really liked the hat. It was a nice touch that exuded confidence and flare. I was bummed out when he got home that night and I learned he didn’t rent the hat too.
So, I posted the picture on Instagram. I realize Instagram is all about photos taken that instant and mine was just over a week old, but really, who has time to post that picture in that instant? Even in the days of the Polaroid camera, we had to shake the film as the picture developed. Am I right?
I added in a few hash tags (aka: pound signs) in front of the few notes I made on the photo. I’m a little slow on the uptake, but I like a good hash tag. Though I’m really confused as to whether that word “hashtag” is one word or two. This computer is not liking it as one. I used words like “stylin’” and “looking good.” Because he was.
I got some likes (it’s not like I have a huge following on Instagram) and my son commented. He said “no.”
I assumed he was saying “no” to the fact that I said he was looking good. I’m honestly not real sure because it is very early in the morning as I type this and he’s still asleep.
But it got me to thinking…did I forget along the way to teach him (or any of my other kids) how to accept a compliment?
It’s quite possible I did. Because it took me a long time, many, many years even, to be able to do the same. I just never quite saw myself the same way someone else did when they said something positive about my looks, intellect, or personality.
I remember an adult family member once complimenting a cousin of mine. I don’t remember about what exactly, but it was a totally appropriate, positive remark to make. Her response was to say something glib like “I know” in the way that teenagers sometimes do.
My memory of the event isn’t that she was being conceited or arrogant, she was just being silly. She was being a teenager. You know, sort of self-centered, but not in a hateful way.
That adult did not see the humor in it. In fact, he accused her of being self-centered and hateful.
It ruined what could have been a good moment. Even a good teaching moment if he truly felt the need to correct her behavior.
That snapshot in life has stuck with me. Well, that and the fact that I never could wrap my head around the fact that I was pretty or smart or had a great personality.
So when I saw the comment from my son, I wondered how many others have trouble accepting a compliment.
The answer is pretty hard for some people. So hard in fact, it prompted this article in Psychology Today. I even came across this wiki How page that teaches people how to accept a compliment. Good Therapy even got in on the action.
I know it can be hard to believe other people think great things about you. Quite possibly because you don’t believe that you’re great. It’s the whole low self-esteem thing.
It wasn’t until I started to believe some positive things about myself that I was able to take a compliment at face value. (How’s that for self-centeredness?) When that happened, things got easier. After all, we’re our own worst critic. When we look in the mirror, we don’t just see a flaw, we see FLAWS. All of them. Every last one. Magnified to the nth degree.
When in reality, those flaws (we all have them) are probably rather small.
For the most part, our flaws make us human. No one is perfect. Sure, if you have a serious flaw, it’s a good idea to look into changing that. And there’s room for improvement in each of us. But if someone compliments you on a great idea, your intelligence, the nice smile you have, or how kind you are…whatever it is…accept it.
Because you’re smart enough. You’re good enough. And dog gone it…people like you.