“I’m trying” has been my automatic response to receiving any sort of praise whatsoever for as long as I can remember.
If I did well on a project at work: “I’m trying”
If a friend or relative complimented something I was wearing: “I’m trying”
If someone congratulated me on my weight loss, our engagement or subsequent marriage, my pregnancy, or just holding our house together all day, every day: “I’m trying”
It’s recently come to my attention that this is not healthy.
Why do I find it so hard to accept positive feedback for myself? Well, the short answer is: I can always, and should always be trying to do better. This has been my Modus Operandi since the beginning of time. To me, I have always believed that I can always do and be better because no one is ever perfect. There is always room for improvement in every aspect of anyone’s life, right? We should all always be trying to be and do better, right? Right…
and that’s a big BUT…
Why can I not acknowledge and accept that I am really, truly, excelling/succeeding/rocking it when I am really, truly, excelling/succeeding/rocking it?!
Truth be told: I have no idea where this block comes from. I don’t have answers today. But, like they say in recovery: The first step is admitting you have a problem. So, today I’m admitting that I have a problem accepting positive feedback.
In my proactive mind, though, even though I can’t identify a root cause for this issue, I immediately jump to finding a solution –
What am I going to do about it?
How do I fix this?
What will flip the switch inside of myself to make it easier for me to just receive positive feedback and compliments and then just… just what? What happens when you receive a compliment?
Jeez, this is awkward… Do you smile? Do you quickly come up with a compliment for the other person in return? Do you maintain eye contact while you say thank you? Do you let silence consume the moment? YEESH… This is more complicated than I thought…
Great, now I’ve got two problems to solve: 1. How do I accept positive feedback? 2. How do I accept positive feedback?
First things first, I believe the best logical first step would be to identify moments where I feel strong, successful, beautiful or just plain good, and actually take a moment in time, right then and there, to give myself a pat on the back for it.
I gave it the old college try yesterday, for the very first time. Guess what? I found several moments where I felt like a rock star that had her shit somewhat together!
- I gave my dog a bath, and then I gave my kid a bath, and then I got a shower, too, all with almost no moments of crisis! Sure, we used a lot of water, and I’m glad I saved my shower for last, but guess what? I did it!
- I got to wear makeup yesterday (not that I need it, but I feel good when I can wear mascara and a dash of liner, don’t judge this!), drink coffee and take a couple moments to make myself some halfway decent food.
- I walked my dog, with my kid in his stroller, and I didn’t get frustrated at anything except the weather, because holy crap was it warm yesterday!
- I found joy in small moments, like when my babe smiled at me from his tiny tub, because he was genuinely happy, butt nakey, sopping wet and all soapy, in his Mommy’s care.
Sure, there were only a couple I identified in the moment yesterday, but that’s ok! Because maybe there’ll be more today!
Perhaps if I start to give myself the credit I deserve, in the moment, maybe when someone else points it out, I can actually accept it, because I agree! And will you promise, my loyal readers, that if you catch me auto-responding with something similar to “I’m trying”, you’ll call me out?
As far as how to actually accept it, now, that’s a different story and I think we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get there! Baby steps, friends, baby steps. For now, though, I’ll keep “trying”!