“I decide that if it is so hard to own up to my own accomplishments, to take a compliment, to not duck my head and choose Door Number Two, then I’m going to say YES to accepting any and all acknowledgments of personal fabulous awesomeness with a clear, calm “Thank you” and a confident smile and nothing more.” ~Shonda Rhimes
I am currently listening to Shonda Rhimes book Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person and I can relate to many things. Shonda owns Thursday night television with her shows Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder and yet she reveals that she had a hard time accepting compliments. In the book, she shares that powerful woman duck their heads, laugh, or dismiss compliments about their success and talents. Women don’t want to come off as cocky or arrogant. And I realized that this true for me. I remember the school counselor where I worked, once told me, as an adult, that I needed to learn to accept compliments – I would laugh them off or dismiss whatever they said as no big deal. The counselor told me to learn to just say thank you. She told me to stop at thank you and be gracious and especially not to add any qualifiers that minimized the compliment - I was really good at adding those minimizing comments. Shonda's advice is very similar, she shares that when you are given a compliment you should just say thank you, smile and shut up. I have made progress in accepting compliments, but this book made me realize that I still have a ways to go.
I just watched a little video that my husband shot when I recently won second place at an art show. And do you know what I saw? I saw exactly what Shonda Rhimes said women do – I ducked my head as I was called up to receive the award, and I didn’t duck it once, but 3 times. For years, I have worked on my low self-esteem and I know that part of the reason I have a hard time accepting compliments is that the compliment contradicts the negative self-image I have of myself. I now understand that I am good enough and am deserving of compliments as I really do work very hard and I have accomplished a lot in my life. I thought I had come further in developing my confidence and self-image, but this video made me aware that there is still work to be done.
I know that I am not alone in having difficulty accepting compliments and if people like Shonda Rhimes have trouble there are a lot of us who need work. Artwork is subjective. The piece that won 2nd place at this show was rejected from another show just a month ago, so it was easy for me to dismiss the compliments about my work. Plus, there were so many other talented artists and works displayed at this exhibit that I felt fortunate to have been selected. I know I need to be more gracious and humble when being given a compliment and to really hear what is being said and let it soak into my being. Even putting the picture of me with the 2nd place award on this page is difficult. But, I want to be like Shonda and say yes to life and do the hard things in life that scare me and accept the compliment from this award with confidence. I want to learn to express Shonda’s clear, calm and confident thank you when someone compliments me – I am a work in progress. How about you?
Do you have trouble accepting compliments? Why or Why not?
Shonda shares that accepting compliments is more difficult for women. Do you agree and why do you think women have more trouble accepting compliments?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
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