Learning to Take a Compliment

IMG_0580  If words could kill, I would be taken down by a compliment!

I am so wired to deflect a complement it’s become an affliction. The other day the Director of the agency I work for gave me a complement in a meeting and I turned red, started to sweat and stupidly did a little 3-year olds clap, you know the little giddily quiet hand clap. What a freaking spaz!

I avoid meetings and events where awards, service recognition or other opportunities to be recognized are happening because it fills me with so much anxiety. And it’s a little strange because I am interviewed on T.V. quite a bit, I have done live T.V. and Radio shows, I talk to people at events all the time and am generally an out-there extrovert selling my book of business without restraint. But selling myself or worse someone pointing out something nice about me puts me into a sweat filled anxiety attack that makes me want to hurl.

I know I should smile, hold my head high and just say thank you, but that is f’ing  hard for me to do!

So I did what any mentally ill person would do, I searched the internet for the best psychological advice I could find. What? I spent all my mental health funds on a new sweater. Anyway, I found some helpful tips that I am going to put to use and I am posting a few of the best here incase some of you repurposed your mental health funds for a cocktail dress. One of my favorites comes from: Manolo for the Big Girl 

“You wouldn’t go up to someone and say “Hi, you know your favorite green cardigan? It’s awful. Seriously. It looks like a tennis ball sexually assaulted your grandma.” (well, I’d say that, but you all are nicer than I am) because obviously they LIKE the sweater and you don’t just go up to people and tell them they have bad taste, even if they really really deserve it.

This is doubly true in states with concealed handgun laws.

See, it doesn’t matter whether you believe the compliment or not. If someone says you have a lovely singing voice and you say you sound like a frog, what you’re telling this person is they have bad taste in music.

Rude.

So, next time, instead of making an ass of yourself, make A ASS of yourself:

Acknowledge – body language, a nodded head or a hand to the chest (preferably your chest) conveying you heard what they said and it’s touched you.

Accept – the actual words you use, “Thank you” is a good start. Keep it brief.

Smile – a smile lets them know they’ve made you happy, even if you don’t believe them

Shut up – Don’t devalue the compliment or try to repay it. You don’t want them to feel like they were fishing for a compliment of their own.

That’s it.”

 Clementine’s experiment, say it with me….

“So, we’re here with a little experiment. The next time you receive a good-hearted pat on the back, respond with two simple words:

Thank you.

Now, we’re not being sarcastic here. Nor do we have any intention of making light of something we all struggle with on a regular basis. Yet, those two commonly-used words are truly the best solution. Try it with us:

“Congratulations on the big promotion!”    Thank you.

“Wow! You look amazing this evening.”     Thank you.

“Your home is so lovely.”                            Thank you.

That’s it, dearest Clementines. No disparaging qualifying statements needed.”

And how could I not include a tip from the place where all geeks go for information, wikiHow suggests,

“When accepting the compliment as it is, even if it’s not something you agree with, keep the reply simple and stay focused on the fact of receiving the compliment and be appreciative that the person was happy to compliment you. Some examples are:
“Thank you very much” or just “thank you”. These are simple, timeless classics that should be easy enough to utter even if the compliment has caught you off guard. If that’s all you can think to say, leave it at that.
“Thanks, I appreciate that.”
“Thank you; that’s a really lovely thing to say.”
“Thanks – that makes me feel really good.”
“Thanks. That means a lot to me.”
“Thanks, you’re a kind person.””

Now with all these great tips at hand I will move forward in life no longer defecting a compliment but rather replying – Thank You!

How about you – any social situation make you want to hurl?  Can you take a compliment?

Meditation is Hard Work

New England 2007-23 I began my meditation commitment about two weeks ago.

I enjoy the sitting still and breathing for about 30 seconds, then my mind wonders, I start to fidget, I open my eyes and look at the clock and it hasn’t even been 30 seconds, try 15 seconds. But I do what I’ve read, take it easy on myself, bring myself back to my breath, relax my shoulders and try again.

I have been reading more about meditation and the practice that is going “mainstream” and found this article in the New York Times by Tony Schwartz, More Mindfulness, Less Meditation that had some interesting points.

Here’s the promise: Meditation – and mindfulness meditation, in particular – will reduce your cortisol level, blood pressure, social anxiety and depression. It will increase your immune response, resilience and focus and improve your relationships — including with yourself. It will also bolster your performance at work and provide inner peace. It may even cure psoriasis.”

Wow, if it’s this great why isn’t it required in school just like gym and health class? And now it is really becoming the fad de jour when Rappers and Silicon Valley folks are getting on board, not to mention the Seattle Seahawks.

50 Cent meditates. So do Lena Dunham and Alanis Morissette. Steven P. Jobs meditated, and mindfulness as a practice is sweeping through Silicon Valley. A week from Saturday, 2,000 technology executives and other seekers will gather for a sold-out conference called Wisdom 2.0, suddenly a must-attend event for the cognoscenti.

The author, Mr. Schwartz, has been a regular meditator for nearly 25 years according to his article and wrote a book about it called “What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America” but his years of experience tell him that it isn’t a magic cure for all that ails you. He writes,

The simplest definition of meditation is learning to do one thing at a time. Building the capacity to quiet the mind has undeniable value at a time when our attention is under siege, and distraction has become our steady state. Meditation – in the right doses — is also valuable as a means to relax the body, quiet the emotions and refresh one’s energy. There is growing evidence that meditation has some health benefits.

What I haven’t seen is much evidence that meditating leads people to behave better, improves their relationships or makes them happier.”

 He goes on to write;

“Consider what Jack Kornfield has to say about meditation. In the 1970s, after spending a number of years as a monk in Southeast Asia, Mr. Kornfield was one of the first Americans to bring the practice of mindfulness to the West. He remains one of the best-known mindfulness teachers, while also practicing as a psychologist.

“While I benefited enormously from the training in the Thai and Burmese monasteries where I practiced,” he wrote, “I noticed two striking things. First, there were major areas of difficulty in my life, such as loneliness, intimate relationships, work, childhood wounds, and patterns of fear that even very deep meditation didn’t touch.”

I don’t expect meditation is going to solve all my problems, but I hope if I keep practicing that it might bring me a little bit of peace, help me focus more on what matters and help me understand myself a bit better. Maybe I am asking too much?

Mr. Schwartz’s column also gives some suggestions about starting with the basics. I might need the remedial class!

“First, don’t expect more than it can deliver.

Second, start simply.

Third, don’t assume more is better.”

The three steps in the article include more practical advise about using it wisely including this comment from Catherine Ingram, author of “Passionate Presence“,

“There is a difference between mindfulness meditation and simple mindfulness. The latter isn’t a practice separate from everyday life. Mindfulness just means becoming more conscious of what you’re feeling, more intentional about your behaviors and more attentive to your impact on others.”

I see both mindfulness and meditation with possibilities for improving me. If I improve me, I can use what I learn to improve things for others in and around my life. So I will keep trying, two minutes at a time.

Do you meditate yet? Why not – everyone else is!