Loving Yourself & Others, Part IV
by Neissa Brown Springmann
When I sat down in January to plan what I was going to write about in February, the idea of loving ourselves and others felt natural because February is all about love. As I pondered different actions we could take that would demonstrate love, the one that continued to stir in my head was the ability to receive a compliment with a simple and gracious “thank you.”
Let’s face it, we women are THE WORST at receiving compliments with a “thank you” or without the extra “oh”, “well”, “but”, and “really?” On the flip side, we are THE BEST at giving compliments! We have no problem showering others with compliments, but when it comes to loving ourselves and the person giving the compliment enough to graciously receive it with a “thank you”, as a whole we’re pretty bad.
How do I know this? Because graciously accepting compliments was something I once stunk at, and I continue to struggle with. It wasn’t until a friend called me out many years ago that I became aware of how rude, ungrateful and unflattering it was for me to not to be able to say “thank you”. I thought a lot about why I couldn’t receive a compliment. Did I feel unworthy? Did I not love myself enough to receive a beautiful compliment? Or was it because I was too focused on my imperfections that I couldn’t see or appreciate what others saw? Honestly, it was probably all of the above.
Taking it a step further, my whole life I’ve wished I had long, slender legs. I’ve never been satisfied with my long torso and short legs until Dietitian Anne Wilfong spoke at one of our winter retreats. She too referenced her dislike of her short legs and long torso, and said that it wasn’t until she ran her first marathon that she realized how grateful she was for her short, strong legs. Not only did they carry her for 26.2 long miles, but they allowed her to train all of those miles! It was then that I realized I needed to stop wishing I had longer legs and simply be grateful for what I do have. So, to my short legs: I am blessed to have both of you. You are strong and allow me to run, jump, walk, play, skip, ride my bike and go everywhere I need and want to go. Thank you, and I will never wish you were longer again!
Gratitude. I’m learning that expressing gratitude is the key to living our best life, and while being able to receive a compliment with a gracious “thank you” and complimenting a body part that we are typically critical of might seem trivial, to me it all equals loving ourselves, loving the person who was kind enough to give us the compliment and appreciating what we’ve been given.
This week and moving forward, I invite you to join me in the Compliment Dare. The goal is to begin receiving compliments with a simple “thank you”, while also loving yourself enough to say “thank you” to your unique features and characteristics. And as you embark on the Compliment Dare, below are two beautiful iGnite leader examples of complimenting a body part that will inspire and encourage you to start saying “thank you”.
“On a good day when I’m feeling confident and self-assured, I call them my “character lines.” On a rough day when I am feeling anxious, worried and insecure, they show up as “old lady wrinkles.” What I realize when I am honest with myself is that every single one of the deep groves in my forehead and furrowed brow carry a lifetime of rich living. The etched wrinkles are complemented by the crows feet around my eyes that light up my face every time I smile and laugh…..which I must have done a lot of in this lifetime if their prominence is any indicator! I have earned every single one of my wrinkles; a testament to a life well lived!”
“When I get the occasional compliment on my hair, my tendency is always to respond with the bad — “oh really? Wow, it’s so fine and straight and flat and there’s so much of it…and this…and that… but thank you though. ” When really I should just rock it. Why am I responding with negativity when someone is saying something nice to me? The fact that my hair is relatively ‘easy’ to handle is something I should be incredibly grateful for and stop nitpicking about the things I wish were different about it. So, there — thank you God for this crazy head of hair that I should be nothing but grateful for!”
When given a compliment, practice receiving it with a gracious “thank you” and begin complimenting and being grateful for the physical features you are often critical of.