Editor’s Note: Tell Your Worst Critic To Just Take The Compliment

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While vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard with my husband and daughter last summer, I was paid one of the nicest compliments from two random strangers.

We were heading to one of the local shops in Vineyard Haven to buy my daughter a pullover since the day was unseasonably chilly. We were in a slight hurry to get to our next destination, so I walked ahead of my husband who was on stroller duty. Then I noticed two young ladies stop a few feet in front of me and smile. One of them looked at me and said, “You’re so gorgeous.”

“Thanks,” I said blushing as I continued to make my way to one of the shops. By the time my husband caught up to me, he asked, “Did you hear what those girls said to you? I heard them say you look like you dropped right out of heaven.”

I was stunned. I didn’t hear that part of their kind words. To be compared to an angel by other women is the ultimate.

My husband didn’t stop there. “Why do you always do that,” he asked. “Why do you walk away when someone is giving you a compliment?”  I told him that I did thank them.

“Why don’t you stop to take the compliment,” he added.

I was slightly surprised. I never noticed that was something I did on a regular basis. But as I examined myself in that moment, I realized listening to a compliment could be slightly uncomfortable for me. I make myself open to receiving them by looking my best, but I wonder if there’s a small part of me that doesn’t feel deserving once the kind words are uttered. Even as I type out this story I wonder if I’m being too self indulgent.  Granted, I am a shy person by nature, but why don’t I stand in my power when someone is giving me a little praise?

As I read the results of a recent study done by Weight Watchers UK I thought about what my husband said to me that day. It turns out, the average woman criticizes herself at least 8 times a day according to the company’s survey of 2,000 women, ages 18 to 69. The top ten most common ways women put themselves down include:

– Feeling too fat and wanting to lose weight

– Wanting to be as photogenic as other women

– Deflecting compliments by saying something negative about yourself.

The women who participated in the survey say selfie culture and social media are the cause of their warped identities. There was a time airbrushed photos of celebrities and models had women confused about beauty ideals. Now the biggest threat comes in the form of filtered photographs of everyday women on Instagram.

So what do we do? Do we shut down our social media accounts? Or maybe we can get rid of all the mirrors in our homes? Neither would get to the root of the problem. At the end of the day, as women, we must find a way to go within, feel our divine presence and begin to acknowledge all the good we represent.

That was how Syracuse University student, LaNia Roberts found self-love.  As a result she began to paint beautiful self portraits.  She’s now a rising star in the art world.  (stay tuned for our feature on her this week).

As for me, I’ve decided to give myself a mandate: the next time someone gives me a compliment, I must stay put, say thank you, and tell myself I deserve to hear those words. It’s my way of being kinder to myself.  If someone has enough nerve to compare me to angel, I will match that nerve by believing it with my whole heart.
Keep shining,

Abi

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