Sometimes, especially as a woman, unsolicited comments about our person can be quite uncomfortable and leave us in a position where we don’t know how to respond. For many, this experience is somewhat distressing and leads us to deflect. As a self proclaimed introvert and INFP, I don’t spread my attention too broadly amongst the public. I usually set out to do the tasks at hand when I’m in large public spaces, and don’t go out of my way to commingle. Although, of course, if people talk to me I’m more often than not friendly and have no problem in engaging in conversation, but it’s never my intent. So when perfect strangers approach me with something about myself, it takes me off guard because doing something like that is out of character for me. In this fast paced society, regardless of what kind of personality you have, it can take you off guard when people go out of their way to show acts of kindness.
So why are so many of us so quick to deflect compliments and praises, especially from strangers who stand to gain nothing from going out of there way to do so?
What part of ourselves are so quick to divert the attention away from ourselves, deeming these unsought compliments fruitless, and even more so, incorrect?
Are our reactions to appreciation a reflection of how we feel about ourselves overall?
There’s a certain hypocritical air that floats around being modest nowadays. We’re bombarded with messages about loving yourself. Hey, I’ve preached it before myself. It’s getting jammed down our throats everyday, love yourself, love yourself, love yourself. But just not too much, ya know? If you love yourself too loudly so everyone else can hear it, you’re a narcissist. If you post too many selfies or take the time to to make yourself up before leaving the house, you’re obsessed with yourself. Just wondering, does the general public actually know the definition of narcissism? Unless you’re getting sexual gratification from admiring yourself so damn much, I think it’s pretty safe to say that you’re not a narcissist or on an unhealthy spectrum of egocentrism. Why are acts of self-care and self-love so quickly dismissed as narcissism? Is actually giving a shit about yourself so outlandish it becomes comparable to having an inordinate fascination with yourself?
Self-love isn’t frivolous, its essential to having a healthy relationship with yourself. Deflecting and diminishing the good things that make you, you only serves to keep you small. I’m not saying run around the office with a huge poster that says “I’M FUCKING AWESOME,” shoving it in everyone’s faces while throwing confetti about because your mere existence is a God damn party. You might not only be a narcissist if you do that, but certifiably socially inept. What I am saying is, you’re not any less of a person if you accept a genuine compliment. You’re not doing yourself any favors in your relationship with yourself, or other people, by rejecting the things about you that make you great. Being humble isn’t deflecting a harmless, kind compliment. Rejecting your strong suits and the genuine aspects of yourself that make you a wholly unique addition to our world, is self-depreciating, and harmful. (NOTE: I’m not talking about the genuine, frightening street harassment that women face, that’s a whole other topic I get pretty heated about and would love to dedicate to an entire other post.)
Don’t let people who are insecure with themselves delude you into believing that accepting your strong suits is a form of self-obsession and narcissism. Don’t let society’s constant assertion that there’s something wrong with you or the opinions of crotchety baby boomers keep you from accepting kindness from other people. When you reject people’s genuine admiration, it sends the message that not only do you not like yourself very much, but that they wasted their time in even going out of their way to compliment you.
Nowadays, when people have something nice to say to me, I don’t feel bad accepting their kind words. Sometimes I compliment back, other times I just say “Thank you,” excitedly and go on my merry way. I move forward keeping in mind that someone did or said something nice to me out of the goodness of their heart, and that should be the most important takeaway. Not whether or not I felt I deserved it. (Which I do, duh.)
I’m not gonna end this post on some Gandhi level shit, so let me just say this: Lighten up, okay? Let the kindness of others in. It’ll only make things better for everyone.