Let’s play a game.
Close your eyes. Well, read this and then do the exercise. Think about something you are working hard towards. What is a goal that you are eyeball deep in trying to accomplish?
Got it. Thrilling. Now, open your eyes.
If I were to come up to you, Jane Doe, who is 11 pounds into her 20 pound weight loss goal and compliment you on the progress you’ve made… Raise your hand if you would start your response with the words, “Thank you, but *Insert something like, ‘I’m not there yet’*”.
No, I can’t see if you are actually raising your hands, and it might be a little weird if you did since I don’t know where you are reading this, but some or most of you know exactly what I am talking about. And if you have never done this, I might venture to say you aren’t being totally truthful.
I see this in the gym everyday, and it doesn’t have to be “thank you, but” exactly. I’ll see a member give another member a compliment about an impressive lift or time in a workout, to which the response might be, “Yea, but it isn’t a PR” or “Thanks, but I did it heavier/faster last time.”
I am super guilty of this myself. I play mental gymnastics surrounding lifts and almost always downplay accomplishments.
Well, I am here in hopes that by giving advice, I may find it a little easier to take.
My advice? Shut up and take the damn compliment.
I think it all ends up circling back to an idea I wrote about not too long ago, the idea that we get too wrapped up in the goal and not the process. The idea that being totally goal oriented means you are waiting until the goal has been reached to give yourself permission to be happy. Mental gymnastics are exhausting, y’all.
I’m not saying it’s comfortable at first. A lot of us live with some pretty big insecurities and anxieties that weigh down on us daily. And even once we have learned how to recognize them or not let them rule us, we still see them and we still know they are there. A lot of times, we set goals based on things we aren’t happy with, things we want to make better, things that cause self-doubt, insecurity, or anxiety. So when someone suddenly compliments you on something that you are in the process of bettering, but not happy with yet, it tends to make us cringe. I think, sometimes, it makes us feel transparent and vulnerable when people can tell we are working towards something that happens to be deeply personal. And as a way to protect ourselves, we downplay the progress because it isn’t the end goal. Other times, it might not be so intense, I think we just get wrapped up in day to day bullshit and want to dismiss the compliment because we wanted more than we got.
Look, I’m not saying I have it all figured out.
I am figuring it out with you. Sometimes just saying “thank you” makes me cringe internally. Hell, sometimes I actually turn to physically cringe. I, personally, am at a point where I don’t say “thank you, but” but I feel the need to quantify it for someone. Almost to let them know I worked hard for it and it didn’t just happen. It’s both defensive and irrational.
So, let’s put on our big kid pants and put 1% more effort into our days and making them better. Next time someone gives you a compliment, just take it. Just say, “thank you” and move on with your damn life. I’m not saying it will be the most fun or exciting part of you day, but hopefully, little by little, we can start to appreciate who we are and what we have done that has gotten us where we are today.
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