Coping, Friends & Family, Mental Health

What Do You Do With Compliments?

Last week, my friend and yoga teacher used some wonderful adjectives to describe me. We were in class, so all I could do was thank her. There was no chance for me to shrug her off, which I probably would have otherwise. In the meditation at the end of class, her kindness sunk in without judgment or dismissal.

How many times have you been told to “just take the compliment”? Our need to shrug them off is so strong that usually the person who is paying you the compliment has to tell you to shut up and take what he or she is saying. At least that’s how it is for me.

Think about the language I just used. Taking a compliment is merely putting up with what you’re being told. Compare this to accepting a compliment: you not only receive the words from the complimenter, you accept that the description may apply to you. Believing the compliment is exactly as it sounds — and it is really hard to do.

When someone pays you a compliment, they believe what they’re saying, otherwise they wouldn’t be saying it. (OK, this isn’t always true, but think about nice things people have said about you — I bet you’ll find most people have meant what they said.)

I cringe remembering all the times someone told me I was brave to face my illness head-on and I responded that I have no choice. I finally realize that I do have a choice. I could be hiding under the covers or complaining about how how bad I’ve got it.

Self-esteem suffers with the emotional ups and downs of any life-changing illness, which includes migraine and other headache disorders. When someone gives you a boost, believe it! I’m trying to.

4 thoughts on “What Do You Do With Compliments?”

  1. Glad this site is here. Very bad week…the “both-sided” migraine with uncontrollable vomiting. 6 hours and IV (dilaudid, zofran)in Urgent Care. Sent home for few hours. The “10” headache had gone to “5” and vomiting had stopped.

    But then the headache ramped back up again. When I tried to take a zofran (anti-emetic drug usually used for cancer patients in chemo), the vomiting started all over again.

    Another 3-1/2 hours of IV (DHE, zofran, demerol, & something else) in hospital ER. Still left with headache.

    That was day 3 of headache. DHE & zofran all day, still sick.

    Finally, I’m going to go to the Michigan Headache & Neurological Institute in October. It’s been my ace in the hole…wanted to exhaust every possible thing I could do here, with the exception of the surgical implant thing. Didn’t have good results with the occipital nerve block, so really don’t want the surgery for something that may or may not work.

    I’m nervous to go because I live in Oregon and can only afford to go by myself. And I can’t think straight with a migraine. So not only navigating a new city, airport (and flying usually gives me a migraine), and — more importantly — trying to make sound medical decisions when I can’t hardly say my own name.

    Luckily, I have a whole host of coping tools at my disposal…living in the moment, meditation, the whole host of things that we all use to make it through the day and night.

    Just needed to say all this to folks who REALLY get it. My family loves me and are worried, but it’s not the same as “talking” to people who are in the trenches with you.

    Thanks for the listen.

  2. Hehe, I know you weren’t fishing, I just wanted to give a compliment 🙂

    I completely agree with our pal Migraineur when it comes to writing thank-you notes; I was taught from a very early age to write them, and it’s just so normal for me to write them now. A bunch of the 5th graders I worked with this past school year wrote thank-you notes to their teachers at the end of the year even when they weren’t required to do so. It made me feel good that there are some kids who know to write thank-yous, even if it isn’t for something material.

  3. Here’s another take: Miss Manners says it’s rude to brush off a compliment; you must respond with a “Thank you.” And why? Kerrie, you said it yourself: “When someone pays you a compliment, they believe what they’re saying.” If you brush off the compliment, you are, in effect, returning an insult, suggesting that the person’s opinion is worthless.

    Miss Manners also says that teaching children to write thank you notes cultivates in them a habit of gratitude. That is, they may start out doing so because you require it of them, but they will actually learn to be grateful if they write enough thank you notes.

    Maybe accepting compliments graciously is the same? If you say, “Thanks, it was nice of you to notice,” often enough, maybe you yourself will start to notice the good things about yourself too!

    Brilliant points, as always! (and I’m not just saying that because we’re writing about compliments)


  4. I know what you mean… the whole self-esteem thing for me has been tough during the past few years with this. I, too, have had many people compliment me on my bravery and persistence… a lot of times, I just respond with “thanks, but I don’t know know how I am doing it.” I am still having to remind myself to just say, “thank you very much.” And also, when my pain gets bad and no one is around, I have been trying to be my own “cheerleader” and get myself through the tough times.

    Kerrie, you’re doing a great job 🙂 (There, how does that compliment feel? hehe)

    Oops, I meant to say that I wasn’t fishing for compliments!

    I’m glad to hear that you’ve figured out the importance of being gracious to others and yourself. I’m learning what a struggle it is.

    I just realized that I lost your blog in Google Reader. I’ve added you back to my list and am looking forward to catching up.

    Take care,

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