I still don’t know how to take compliments

One thing that keeps coming up in my life is that I don’t know how to take compliments. No, really. When somebody tells me I did something well, I usually start to show all the mistakes, or tell how it’s adequate but nowhere near perfect/what they were doing in the 16th century/some other reason why it’s not good.

Today, Conall and I went to the dojo, as they were doing more marketing. I love this dojo, really I do. Sometimes all the marketing they do to members frustrates me, though. Today’s marketing was for “Super Saver” for us to take double private lessons. We are already signed up for as much as we can afford, so the answer was going to be no. We knew that, Sensei knew that (told him so when he insisted I sign up for a slot), so everybody was on the same page.

Well, every so often I like to go girly. It surprises a lot of people when I do “girl up”, because the majority of the time they only see me in jeans and a t-shirt or sweatshirt/sweater. But, well, look at my life. Stay at home caretaker of my husband’s mother. Not too much opportunity to play dress up there. I’m pagan, so no church to go to once (or three times) a week and dress up for that. I get to play dress up for the SCA, but even that is usually simple tunic dresses and/or sideless surcoats on top of tunic dresses. The closest I get to “dress up” there is when I put on the head jewelry (I have a beautiful amethyst and quartz filet made by my heart sister, and a bronze circlet with some glass pearls dangling from it).

When I go to the dojo, I’m either in jeans and shirt or Gi. I mean, I’m going there to work out, I’m not going to be all dressed up.

Today, I felt like going girly. Yes, I still had jeans on, but my top was more dressy than I’ve worn to the dojo before, and instead of my hair being in a pony tail, I had my bangs combed forward, and my hair mostly loose, with the front stuff caught back out of my face with a silver barrett. Oh yeah, and I had some jewelry on (a white and red pearl necklace and earring set I made while back).

Conall and I walked into the dojo for our appointment, and Sensei J just about did a double take. He complimented my clothing, and then told me “wow, you are beautiful!” I just didn’t know what to say. He asked if I usually dress up, and I said no, just felt like it today. After telling me again that I looked really nice, we got down to business. He knew we’d say no, we knew we’d say no, so we did a lot of visiting that we can’t normally do around or during class time.

At the end of it all, as we were leaving, he complimented me again, and then said, “I know what it is that’s setting everything off so nice.” “What?” “The jewelry. The red and white pearls just make the whole thing.” I know I blushed. I mean … I made the jewelry he was complimenting so nicely, yanno?

I said thank you. At least I’ve learned how to just say thank you instead of saying there’s no way I can look beautiful or gorgeous or anything.

But I do have to say, it’s very hard for me to accept. For so much in my life, I’d been told how ugly I was because I was fat, that nobody would love me, that if I didn’t lose weight I’d have to settle for whomever was willing to look past my ugliness. To hear Sensei J tell me that I was beautiful …

I hope one day I will actually believe it when people tell me things like that. Until then, well, at least I’ve learned how to appear to graciously accept a compliment even when I don’t believe it.

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3 Responses

  1. Taking compliments gracefully is a difficult lesson to learn. Not only do we get messages telling us we’re unworthy of the compliments, there’s an unspoken thread in our society telling us that to simply say ‘thank you’ and go on is somehow being prideful in a bad way.

    I have to say I love that your Sensei complimented not only you, but the jewelry you’d made as well, and that you were able to accept it as genuine.

    You have learned well, Grasshopper.

  2. You smile and say “thank you.” “Thank you,” like “no,” is a complete sentence and needs no further embellishment.

  3. When a parent comments on the good behaviour of your child, it is easy to take because you know already it is true. We have confidence in how we bring up our children, otherwise we would do it differently.

    Confident people have no problem taking compliments, as it is just a confirmation of what that person already knows about themselves.

    Your reluctance to take a compliment is down to your lack of self confidence. Oddly you take the compliment of the jewelry better because you know deep down you did a good job on it.

    Know this however.

    Whilst taking compliments is sometimes hard, Giving compliments, especially spontaneous ones like this one are almost always given genuinely. The compliment giver often doesnt even consider what effect it might have on you, but is instead simply unable to hold-in their remark.

    Your look clearly was interesting and beautiful enough for someone to remark upon it. That is the fact.

    Choosing not to believe the fact is up to you.

    Personally I think you should just accept that the rest of the word sees you very differently to how you see yourself.

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