How do you take compliments? Counsellor Kim discusses.

I received a wonderful compliment a couple of days ago-hearing it made my heart sour and sing and I shared my joy with a colleague.  This warm feeling lasted the whole day and into the next day, when I received another compliment which magnified this warmth I was feeling.  While I was feeling this amazing warmth I also stopped to reflect on how we receive compliments.  I have offered many compliments and they have been with received with dismissal (“oh it’s only something old I’m wearing) to refusal (No I don’t look nice, I’ve gone up a dress size and haven’t slept well lately) to acceptance (thank you! I love this frock).  It struck me that a compliment is a gift.  If we received an object gift would we dismiss or refuse it or accept it?  Why is it so hard to accept the positive opinion/comments of another as a gift?  Why do we find it easier to give compliments than to receive them?  My musings took me to kindness and how in my counselling and Mindfulness work discussions often arise how it is easier to be kind to others than to oneself and that often we feel selfish when doing something for ourselves.  In person-centred theory of counselling the focus is on the individual-looking at where they are and where they want to get to.  Often the need for self-care arises such as the need for “time out” through a hobby or activity.  In the Mindfulness courses we look at activities that sustain and drain us  and in meditations we have the metta bhavana (loving kindness)meditations.  It is of no surprise to me that in each of these approaches the first step is to be kind to yourself before we can extend that kindness to others or look after yourself to be able to better look after others.  So maybe the next time you receive a compliment, could you accept it for the gift it is with, “thank you” and show yourself some kindness and care by enjoying the way it makes you feel?

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