THE BEAUTY IN Compliments

nicewordscomplimentI believe that we can change the world, slowly and surely by doing one thing: Giving out honest compliments.  Imagine if anytime you felt down you had someone pointing out your strengths, if ever you felt unattractive that strangers praised your features, if ever you thought you couldn’t get through a situation but you had a kind voice telling you how proud they were of you. Naturally, if you heard these compliments often enough you too would start to believe them, see yourself through someone else’s eyes, and train your brain to think differently about all the doubts you feel. If ten people paid ten other people compliments, and those ten paid another ten people compliments and so on and so on, consider how many people  might hold their head a little higher, smile a little brighter, try a little harder, be a little more patient, a little more happy, a little more giving.  The results could be endless if we could all just try.

Helping others feel good about themselves and building them up is part of who I am, it’s in my soul and comes very naturally to me, however, I know that this quality isn’t something that everyone is able to do so freely. There is no fault in not being someone who instantly thinks to tell a loved one they they are amazing, we all have strengths and weaknesses but I do think it’s something that can get easier over time and with practice. I know for lots of people, giving compliments almost feels uncomfortable. To these people, I say start where it feels safe. Here is a little challenge:  Try making a goal of giving one compliment a week to someone you are close to.  Then increase to twice a week, then branch out to someone you don’t know as well. You’re actions will become contagious. And for the veteran admirers, I challenge you to try complimenting strangers. Notice a child who is playing nicely with your child on the playground, compliment that child, and her mother, or for the woman in line at the market who has a beautiful scarf,  tell her you love it and that she looks great. Watch as these behaviors spread when WE make them habit.

There is one catch, however. This won’t work, we won’t change anyone’s day, let alone the world, if we don’t abide by this rule of complimenting. You MUST MUST MUST be honest. Giving out empty or false compliments is pointless and can even be hurtful to the receiver. If we don’t believe our words, neither will anyone else and the effect will be moot.

The flip side to giving compliments is receiving compliments.  Here’s where it gets tricky. Working with brides and their friends and families I am constantly surrounded by beautiful, sweet, strong women.  Sadly, most of these women have a very, very hard time accepting a compliment. Even more,  they put up a fight. I ccomplimentdarlingan’t tell you how many times I’ve said to a mother of the bride “you have such beautiful eyes/hair/skin” and she says to me “oh gosh, no my hair use to be a lot thicker now it’s damaged and has no body I need to do something with it” Or worse if I compliment their dress “well, it will have to do for today, it’s not about me anyway, if I
were able to lose the last 5 lbs it would probably look better.” This surprises me every time. This is something else we need to practice, say “thank you” smile, and don’t say anything else when someone is giving you a genuine compliment. Accepting a compliment doesn’t mean you are full of yourself, it’s simply being thankful of someone else’s words.

Here is the second part of my challenge. This will be much harder. Think, what is your best feature (don’t tell me your wrist either!) What are you great at doing? What makes you interesting? I know this is hard because I have struggled with this in the past. I forced myself after I had my first daughter, to really think about what my strengths both emotionally and physically were. If I wanted my daughter (daughters* now) to feel good about herself, she needed to have a role model who didn’t put herself down, and could say with grace, what she liked about herself.  So in an effort to inspire you to do the same (remember, this is not an act of arrogance, it’s just identifying your strengths so that when someone compliments them, you can feel more comfortable to say thank you) here are mine: I think I have pretty eyes. Not the kind of eyes that are an obvious choice for “gorgeous eyes,” they are not deep blue or soft grey, they are not exotic or classically beautiful, but they are unique. From a distance my eyes can look brown but they change color often and will range from hazel to green and gold. Emotionally, I think I can make people feel comfortable and open up to me and feel they can talk to me. I love to know everyone’s story and can be a good listener. Lastly, I am a great mother. Now, your turn. You don’t have to tell anyone, just know for yourself.

I hope we can all work on building each other up. Being positive and uplifting. Being genuine and generous with our compliments. Being gracious and humble with our thank-you’s and spreading happiness wherever we go! XxOo Spoiled Gal

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