Something I’ve been hyper aware of lately (probably because it’s something I’ve been working on within myself), is when we offer a complement to someone that includes a comparison to ourselves.
It might sound something like this…
My husband is so much more confident than me.
My friend is SO amazing!! I wish I could be more like her.
My child is so much better at that than I ever was.
These thoughts sound so nice. They sound so pretty. After all, we are saying something nice about someone and building that person up, right?!
Let’s question this. Because, what I want to offer today is that thoughts like these can be poison.
Poison because they may not actually feel that great, but we don’t even look at them or question their effect on our lives because they sound so nice and pretty.
But, I want you to really take a moment to think about these thoughts.
How do they feel for you??
For me, they feel like wanting. Wanting to be better than I am. Putting myself in a position that is less than somebody else. Thinking I’m not good enough as I am NOW. In this moment.
To play with this a little more, let’s imagine we flipped these thoughts around.
I’m so much more confident than my husband.
I’m SO amazing! I wish my friend could be more like me.
I’m so much better at this than my child will ever be.
Ok, now how do those thoughts feel??
I don’t know about you, but I feel nothing but solid ICK even just writing them. Ha!
I would never talk this way about ANYONE else.
So why would I ever talk this way about myself?
You may have your own answers to this question. I’ve been thinking on this, and there are a couple of different answers my brain offers.
First, I think complementing others at the expense of ourselves is something we do out of habit. We’ve observed others talking this way. We see all the positive engagement that can come from others with these comments. It’s culturally acceptable.
Next, I think we keep doing this because we get a reward when we do it.
What is the reward?!
Let’s think about this.
What happens when we make a comment along the lines of those in the beginning of this post?
Chances are that the other person is going to respond with a comment intended to reassure or validate or appreciate something about us.
And that, my friends, is why we do it. Because everything we do or don’t do always comes back to how we feel. Our feelings drive our behaviors.
We love feeling loved and appreciated and validated.
The problem here is that when we go through this cycle, we think those feelings are coming from our interaction with the other person.
What actually happens is that we say some words and then the other person says some words and then we have a THOUGHT about the words they said.
A thought like…
They like me!
They appreciate me!
They think I’m good at __________!
Wow, she is so nice! I really like her!
All of these thoughts feel so good to think. Would you agree?
Here’s the thing, though…
We can think these thoughts (or whatever thoughts we would be thinking) without having to have a conversation where we are putting ourselves down such that someone says something positive about us and then we get to feel good.
We can complement others without the comparison to ourselves. Without having to make ourselves “less than.” AND, on the flip side of this, we can complement ourselves without someone else having to be “less than.”
Someone else can be amazing AND we can be amazing to.
We’re all amazing.
If what I am writing her resonates with you, I have a challenge for you. 🙂 When you notice yourself putting yourself down as part of building someone else up, get curious about that.
How does that interaction typically play out for you?
What do you say?
What does the other person say?
What do you feel when that person says what they say?
That feeling (a one-word emotion) is what you’re really after. Once you know that, you can create that feeling for yourself in ways that aren’t damaging to your relationship with yourself.
Because you matter!!
How you talk about you, how you think about you, how you view you – it matters. It affects how you experience your life, how you use your time, and how you interact with other people, too.
Treat yourself like you would treat a friend.
P.S. I am crazy passionate about coaching and teaching what I’ve learned to others. If you’d like help working through what you are experiencing in a specific situation, or if you hear your brain saying, “Ya, but…” to anything while you read this post, please shoot me a message using this form. I’d love to hear your thoughts and offer additional help if I can.
If you’d like to have a more in depth conversation with me, please book a free consult at a time that is convenient for you by clicking here. It would my pleasure to speak with you and help you move forward with your goals!