The Compliment Challenge

Yesterday I went for a massage, it’s a strange experience, but my chiropractor wanted me unknotted after a series of extremely stressful circumstances. It’s weird, I injured my back when I was 23 years old (seems like centuries ago) and ever since, any bout of stress, anxiety or trauma and I have an “adverse muscular” reaction. Basically my body goes into protection mode and clamps around the right side of my pelvis and renders me looking wonkier than the Titanic just before she bit the big one.

Anyway I digress, so the massage is a funny experience for me, whenever it comes to taking off my clothes in front of strangers, I’m, unsurprisingly, hesitant. I have to remind myself, if anyone is going to be non-plussed about body shapes, it’s going to be her. So this lovely lady sets to work on unknotting my wound up body. She starts chatting and I also realise that Magic FM is playing in the background, no fucking whale music or incense for miles and it is BRILLIANT! I’m not one to nod off during massages, they feel too fabulous. So we gets to chatting. And boy did we chat…. We covered tattoos, Mexico, wearing bikinis and funnily enough my Body Positive journey. Now, to start with she said something I wasn’t completely expecting… Upon seeing my tattoos she exclaimed “Ohhhh you’re like ALL of my favourite colours!” I expected the usual “I like your tats”, but she said it in such a way it made my day, nay my week. There was something so sincere about her response to me, I was a little over awed.

We chatted further and started discussing compliments. She was telling me how her and a friend worked out that they can’t just accept a compliment, not without somehow deflecting it. This is me all over, it’s like a super power. Someone will compliment an item of clothing and I will tell them where it’s from and how much it cost ESPECIALLY if it was super cheap.

Thanks, I got it from eBay, it was only a fiver.

I found this quote on line whilst doing a bit of “research” (read as Googling quotes on compliments). I couldn’t quite believe that this is considered a motivational quote. I mean what a steaming pile of shit. Whoever quoted this has clearly never suffered with low self esteem. I rarely accept compliments “graciously”, in fact I will actively snatch an insult from the jaws of any compliments you send my way. I will pick apart what people say to ensure that I can justify the negative feelings about myself:

Me (in a particular outfit): “Is this outfit OK?”

Other human unfortunate enough to be asked this loaded question: “You look fine…”

Me: “Fine? fine? So I look shit then?”

Other human: “That’s not what I said…”

Me: *huffs off and changes perfectly fine outfit *

Other scenarios consist of me asking the classic “Do I look fat in this?”, ” do I look hideous?” or any other combination of negative words. So no, it’s not true, people do not always take compliments graciously.

A little story, I was in a band and we played a Biker’s bar shindig. I was cacking myself, here we were surrounded by lots of hairy guys, the smell of leather and engine oil. The days entertainment consisted of music, man vs food competitions and burlesque. Now, by music, I mean we were on after a full on thrash metal band. Oh boy did I panic… We were about to open with K T Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See”, followed by the equally sugary “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. We were going to bomb. I went and got changed in the loo into my fabulous 50s pin up girl swing dress. This beautiful, and I mean BEAUTIFUL lady, comes over and compliments my look, my hair, my dress everything. I deflected everyone of those compliments. But she smiled and reassured me. A total stranger. I went out on stage and this beautiful lady stood up front, sang along and clearly was cheering me on, sending little reassuring thumbs up. It was also this point that I realised that the big hairy bikers were not only smiling, but singing along and proper into us! My prejudice…. Getting the better of me. It wasn’t ‘Sons of Anarchy’, it was a load of retired coppers, who loved bikes, raising money for a local kids’ charity….and they were awesome! Later on I realised that the beautiful lady wasn’t just a guest but one of the burlesque dancers. She let her soft, beautiful body free and danced with fake snakes and lots of shiny things like scarves and fans. And she made sure she winked and blew kisses at me, much to the chagrin of all the boys. It was the best compliment ever! She picked me! I went home feeling very smug and amused that the lad’s noses were all a bit out of joint!

In 2012, when my self-esteem hit rock bottom, I started seeing a therapist. This was a total game changer and it’s something I will go into in more depth at a later date. But suffice to say she didn’t need to dig too deep before she found my crippling self-esteem issues and self-loathing. Some of the things she asked me to do were affirmations in the mirror. I couldn’t even look at myself, let alone talk to myself and say good things about myself. So we came up with a plan, I started to draw a word cloud with words that I knew were positive about me, then as people said nice things to me I added those as well.

Another exercise I had to undergo was accepting compliments, no deflecting, no batting them away and no arguments. Just a simple “thank you”. I wasn’t even really allowed to return it. And it was tough, REALLY tough. All my instincts fought against it. My guts churned and my brain screamed “you’re being rude”. But it got easier and I started to believe them more. It’s something that takes practise and regular ‘exercising’ or it’s easy to slip back into the old ways.

Compliments come in funny ways too. I was very recently at an evening wedding reception. On being there for about 15 minutes the bride dragged me and another guest (who I’d never met before) and asked us to help her in the loo. I was a bit taken aback but I felt quite flattered. It was also hilarious watching this poor lady navigate the bog with a crinoline skirt on. I think sometimes we should look at what people trust us with and what they ask from us, to see how valued we are.

So my darlings, I want to challenge you and I’m going to challenge myself too…

1. Post a positive Facebook status about yourself. Chuck a picture in there for good measure.

2. Accept your compliments ‘graciously’.

3. Don’t tell anyone how much it cost if someone compliments something you own.

4. Be generous with your compliments for other people.

5. Tell yourself good things about yourself in the mirror, and if you can’t do it, write them down.

6. Comment on this post telling me something great about you and/or tell the person above something you like about them…..

By the way, did I tell you…? You are worth EVERY compliment! ❤

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1 comment

  1. I know exactly how you feel, even tho I have a wonderful dad who for 38 yrs told me I’m beautiful, I was always different to the others I was the bigger one, I made choices different to my siblings, even down to the past relationships I never confidently excepted there compliments, until I let the man I married and still till this day after 9yrs of being him sometimes I still question it … but I except more than I question x

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