Many creative artists are uncomfortable with praise and compliments. We can be so busy judging ourselves harshly that we don't quite know what to do with positive feedback.
We almost wish people would just "come out and say it," "it" being the negative thing that they're REALLY thinking, just to prove our negative self-perception.
Instead, when we can learn how to embrace positive feedback and accept compliments graciously, we open up the door for more positive thoughts and interactions, and we actually start to BELIEVE them.
Then, when our inner critic starts up again, we can intentionally choose to believe the POSITIVE messages we've been receiving.
Here are five steps towards accepting compliments graciously.
1. Notice. Begin by noticing what you tend to say when someone gives you a compliment. Do you minimize it by saying, "Oh, it was nothing", do you argue with it by saying, "No, I don't look good, I look awful!" or do you find yourself so uncomfortable that you're at a complete loss for words?
2. Practice. You can learn to accept compliments more graciously. After noticing what you tend to do now, decide how you'd like to respond the next time you receive a compliment. Then, practice saying your new response (in front of a mirror is best) until saying it feels natural and sincere.
What to say? A warm and heartfelt, "thank you", coupled with a smile, is always appropriate and is usually enough. Be cautious of feeling the need to explain, justify, or return a compliment automatically.
3. Pause. When someone pays you a compliment, stop before you respond. This is where change happens – when we step out of autopilot and try something different. Take a deep breath and remember your wish to accept compliments more graciously.
4. Turn your attention outwards. Focus on the person who's giving you the compliment. Think about their intentions. Sometimes our inner critic tells us stories about the person being sarcastic, having some kind of ulterior motive or not truly meaning what they say. Instead, expect the best and act on the assumption that the person is sincere.
Focus on being kind and courteous to that person. If you make them feel good by accepting their compliment with genuine appreciation, they'll remember that and speak up the next time they have something positive to share with you.
Consequently, if you belittle their words by arguing, minimizing or looking as if they've just insulted you, they'll remember that as well.
5. Try it from the other side. Another way to get better at accepting compliments is to GIVE more compliments. Notice how other people receive them. This can improve your relationships greatly, because now you'll be focused more on the other person. As you're looking for positive things to compliment them on, you'll also be keeping your thoughts more positive overall, and you'll have less time for worrying and negative thinking.
© Linda Dessau, 2006.