Women spend a lot of time beating themselves up. Mothers do it even more I think. I recently had to rate my self confidence and I realized I had two completely separate scores. As a human being, taking care of myself, making choices about what I want, how to get it, etc I score high. As parent of a nearly 5 year old I am scrapping by each day, pulling myself off the floor and trying to get through it.* (I know I am still in the golden stage with the baby.)
Several weeks ago I participated in a parenting seminar and one of the facilitators looked me straight in the eye and said gently, "It sounds like you've really figured out a lot of things that work for your family." I'm going to tell you my first reaction: I thought it was a pretense. Giving me a little compliment that she didn't really mean to shut me up or get me to hold it together. (I wasn't holding it together very well that day.) But then I looked deeper. She had no reason to be supercilious. She actually meant those words. And they were a huge compliment. I mean, we've tried so many things that it seems like almost nothing is working, but look at what we've actually figured out! Whew, what a lot of work. And how nice it was to have someone acknowledge it. I certainly hadn't. I was still beating myself up about all the things that haven't worked. I was so busy with that I couldn't even see what was going well.
That day I decided to take compliments. No grains of salt needed. No explanation warranted. No nothing. Take it and hold it and treasure it. No reflecting on the sanity of the complimenter. We get so few that we don't rationalize away. I'm storing them up in a big box in my mind and giving them back out to myself on the days I need them. I can take them from other people, I can take them from myself.
The other mother at the play group who said I was looking lovely and thin, "Thank you!" No, "Thank you, I've been to the gym/chasing children/never showered and am so gross/hate my butt." Just thank you and glow.
My friend who always says I am so smart because I read a lot, "Thank you!" No, "Thank you, I should be reading Tolstoy/this is all crap/you don't understand I have to to survive." Just thank you and glow.
The shop girl complimenting my body in skinny jeans, "Thank you!" No, "Thank you, you're trying to sell these/are delusional/need better lighting." Just thank you and glow.
We don't need to break ourselves down, we get that message from outside. We need to put these jewels in our minds and hold them there. For some weird reason we place more stock in what others say about us than in what we tell ourselves. So take the compliment. Hold it, listen to it on all the days that suck. Replay it inside your head till you believe it.
PS- I saw this last week while I was writing this post and thought it fit in so beautifully. You should try it too!
*This has actually changed a bit recently and I think it is something I want to talk about more here, but it will have to wait for another day.