The other day I posted my EXPOSED photo post. I put myself out there for the world and while it was majorly empowering, it was also quite scary to tell the truth. For a few reasons.
It was tough at first to think of good things associated with body parts. I really didn’t realise how negative some of my self-talk was. Even my usual techniques of joking about how I have my father’s legs with my mother’s height to explain my short, stumpy legs is completely negative. The first thing I saw when I looked at my headless photo was the mini-muffin top over my bikini bottoms. And then I realised that this bikini NEVER fit me right and it’s the only one I have by default after my favourite bikini top snapped. This is more bikini fail than Gemfit fail.
But as I completed the post, I wasn’t all that nervous anymore. The exercise forced me to confront the negative self-talk and promote the positive in my mind. So I highly recommend this activity to everyone, even if you don’t post it on your blog. Take a photo. Annotate it. Make it ALL positive. Print it out and put it somewhere where you see it often to remind yourself of the positive.
And then I had another epiphany. Often, when we allow the negative self-talk to influence our self-esteem, we push people away. We joke, we deflect, we ignore because we’re allowing the negative to drown out any other positives. How often do we respond to compliments from friends and family by making excuses? I know my mother is the QUEEN of this –
“Mom, you look really nice tonight”
“Oh I need to lose 5kgs before this outfit fits me properly” (no jokes, I’m sure that’s been a real response)
First of all, that response is ridiculous. The proper response to a compliment is simple “Thanks”. Nothing more, nothing less. By joking or deflecting, you’re often crushing the person complimenting you instead of helping your self-esteem. By finding excuses for their compliments or love, you deflect any of the possible good for all the bad. I read a blog post the other day where the blogger was remarking on how shallow people were now that they were complimenting her on looking good (she’d lost a lost of weight but people were not remarking on the weight per se, but other aspects of her appearance and self). Instead of simply enjoying the compliments, she was finding the negative in why they were complimenting her, how they’d probably never even noticed that she had the same outfit for ages before, or that she’d worn those earrings before. It’s not important WHY they were complimenting her, she should have taken the compliment and enjoyed it. Said thank you, allowed the person to enjoy complimenting her too. It’s a two-way street.
So, an exercise for everyone. It’s a two-parter.
1. Go and compliment someone today. Something small. Could be a random person, could be family or friends. Be sincere. Notice something they’re wearing or doing. Notice how they respond and how you feel. If they say thank you and enjoy it, how does that make you feel? If they deflect, again, how do you feel?
2. When you get a compliment – be it today or anytime – stop before your usual response. Stop yourself from deflecting or joking or explaining. Just say thank you. See how that feels.