In the below column, Dr. Cara Wheeler says sometimes we need to swallow our pride and “own” a compliment directed at us.
By Cara Wheeler, Psy.D
Integrated Behaviorist – The Corvallis Clinic
I HATE pickles! I mean, the smell of them actually makes me recoil. If I order a sandwich at a restaurant and ask for no pickles I can tell if they have just taken the pickle off after it was already placed on the bun because the vinegary pickle juice soaks in and ruins the sandwich.
Now, my husband LOVES pickles. He buys them, eats them, and tells me that they taste delicious. So, when he says he likes pickles, I believe him because I have the evidence.
Why is it then, when my husband gives me a compliment I immediately discount what he said? I think things to myself like, “Oh, he is just trying to be nice,” or “he knows I needed a self-esteem boost so he is laying it on thick. I even sometime asks myself, “is he wanting something?” And because I typically don’t agree with the compliment, I throw his compliment in the trash and write it off. I decide that he does not have permission to acknowledge and like something I don’t. Being prideful, I determine that my opinion of myself trumps his. And why don’t I believe him? “Well, because I believe he has to say that!” He “has” to say that? That could not be further from the truth.
Gosh, he can choose to say whatever he wants and he has chosen to be kind with his words. If I believe that he likes pickles, why don’t I believe he likes something about me even if I don’t? He married me, he talks to me, and he shows me affection – there’s the evidence!
So the next time your coworker, partner, or friend gives you a compliment – let them have an opinion. Don’t throw it in the trash! Simply say thank you. Let them like pickles even if you don’t!
Dr. Cara Wheeler is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in The Corvallis Clinic Integrated Behavioral Health Department. For details on what Integrated Behavioral Health is all about, go to Clinic Integrated Behavioral Health.